As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, August 28, 2015

Affirmations in Motherhood

Over the past week I've had two very distinct and beautiful affirmations that I want to share, because I think as Moms we (or at least I) can be quick to diminish the good things people see in us and exalt the sinfulness we see in our own lives.  Much of that for me comes from the guilt of feeling like I'm being fake - inevitably when someone pays me a compliment (you're such a good mother) I immediately feel like that's just because they don't know me.  It makes me see the things I struggle with under a magnifying glass, and in turn a lot of time makes the struggle that much more difficult.  And when I fall again, as I inevitably do, I think, "See?  They couldn't have been more wrong."

But I think a lot of the time they aren't wrong - we're just hard on ourselves.  Last week a good friend recounted for me a story of the last time she visited our home.  "Do you remember," she asked, as she proceeded to recall how I had patiently responded to one of our children, as he painstakingly and slowly (as is his way) told a very elaborate story.  She reminded me of how he paused in the middle and forgot where he was, and that I reminded him because I had been listening.  And as she talked what seemed like such an insignificant moment came back.  I remembered with her help because this particular boy often gets lost in the crowd.  He is soft and gentle, and very elaborate in the stories he tells, and when I can I make an effort to listen to him until the end of his story (even if I do have to tell him that this will be the last one!) She said, "I wish I was as patient as you."

This normally strikes me like a dagger, because to me impatience is my biggest weakness.  And yet there was something in the sincerity of the way she shared it, her friendship and a very real moment shared between two families and two mothers, that made me believe it was true.  I may not always be patient, but in that moment I was.  And for the rest of the week I remembered her kind words, and it made me just a little more patient. Times when I struggled I would remember what she said and it would help me to stay calm.  Even when I did succumb to the chaos and lose my cool I would remember her words and think, I am patient.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  My oldest son had just had a bit of a crisis over a fight with a friend, and I talked him through it in a "tough love" sort of way.  It was tough because I think much of the fault in the fight was his, and no matter what he tried to say to the contrary I kept bringing it back to him.  That he had wronged his friend, that it was understandable that his friend needed space, that he needed to respect his friend's freedom in the friendship and wait for him to decide when he wanted to speak again. It was hard on my not-so-little guy, and did not feel so great for me either.  As his Mom I wanted to make it better.  To tell him his friend shouldn't treat him like that, that his friend was wrong - to speak to the friend and speed up the reconciliation process.  But I knew I couldn't.  I had to leave my son and his friend to work it out, to allow my son to learn the hard way the consequences of his choices.

He asked if he could put on some music, and I consented.  He has a real love of music and a tender heart, and he played a song (In this Home by the Newsboys) that was all about mothers, and the happy home a mother creates.  It spoke of home as a safe place, a place where faith could grow, where children come to see what real love is. He introduced it by saying that it makes him think of me, and it was all I could do to get through it with dry eyes.  Love - even if it's tough - is still love.  And despite my many limitations, despite the fact that I flipped out on all of them more than once as we rushed about getting ready to go out the door this morning, despite the fact that when he's upset about a fight the best I can do is point out his fault and encourage him to learn from it, he still knows he's loved.  I am loving.

Why do I share these?  Because I think as Moms many of days are made up of moments like these.  Small moments that often slip by, in the wake of the struggles we have that we give too much merit to.  Sin is never good and we all have failings, but I think too often we take our failures on as an identity and it keeps us there.  When we fall, instead of remembering the good we throw ourselves face-to-face with the bad. Can I tell you how long it's been since I've referred to myself as patient?  I may have rejoiced in a patient moment, but if you asked me whether I am patient the answer would have been a resounding "NO!"  And yet, this week, I feel otherwise.  Because of the affirmations of my friend and my son, I know that I am patient, but not alone.  I am patient when I put others before myself.  I am patient when I trust the Lord to get me through whatever chaos finds its way into my life. I am patient when I believe the goodness that others see in me is real.  And in acknowledging the good, it opens me up to more goodness, points me to Christ, Who helps me be the mother I truly want to be.

This journey is tough, and the struggles mothers face are unique.  But the Lord sends people into our lives to remind us that we are not all bad.  Today I encourage you to remember something nice someone said to you, and really believe it. You might, like me, realize you're not as bad as you think you are.  You might see yourself the way God sees you.

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