Tonight my boy cried himself to sleep. Why? Well, because he’s nine and sometimes life is hard. School is tough, reading is “boring” and the Playstation, well, it’s really fun but really distracting and really sad when it’s taken away.
I thought parenting would get easier when my kids slept through the night, but I’ve found that, no matter how much they sleep, they still keep me up. I guess parenting is always hard – just, in different ways.
And now, I’m getting into the hard-core discipline stage of parenting.
Oh, the discipline.
Turns out, it’s not as much fun as it looked like when I was a kid. My mother was never one to “wait til my Dad got home”, which I appreciate, especially, since my husband travels and I must often discipline alone. For the most part, she liked to handle me then and there. There were times, though, when she would make me go to my room or sit on the sofa for a few minutes. This was terrifying to me because I thought it was part of the punishment…like a short imprisonment before she dropped the hammer. But, now that I’m a mother, I’m thinking maybe she just didn’t know what to do. I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to find the punishment that fits the crime isn’t always so easy, especially, when met with real genuine alligator tears like my son cried tonight.
Furthermore, this discipline thing is not a one-size fits all. Each child is different. For example, my daughter rarely cries the real tears unless she’s injured and she doesn’t really care when I put her in time out. Sure, she’ll turn on that fake ridiculousness and then throw me a good eye roll when I don’t buy what she’s selling. But, she’d rather die than cry when she’s really mad at me. So, I’ve got to figure out a whole new strategy that works for eye roll, smart mouth and stubborn. I wonder if my parents have any experience in this area???
But, even though being a mother is hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it has given me great joy and taught me things that I didn’t know I needed to learn. Perhaps the greatest lesson in my mama journey is how God speaks to me when I’m parenting my children.
Now, I’d love to tell you that heaven comes to earth because of my stellar mom skills, but honestly that’s not the case. It’s more like an event where God draws parallels between his love for me and my love for my children.
You see, it’s easy for me to believe that God exists, but, I often forget how much he loves me. I forget that he looks at me the way I look at my children and loves me even more than I love them. It’s hard for me to remember that my face, like yours, brings him joy. Not because I’ve earned it, because this love cannot be acquired. God loves you and me simply because we are his children. Period.
I think we all, including me, forget this fact because the discussion of love is everywhere these days. The lack thereof and the search for more. Love seems to be the answer to just about everything according to, well, everyone. Yet, still it seems to be so rare. It seems to be so conditional and so limited. There appears to be a disconnect between what we are searching for and what we find. Maybe we are just “looking for love in all the wrong places” or maybe it’s because we are searching for love without connecting with it’s true source.
John says that “God is love” (1 John 4:7). Pay close attention…He IS love. He is the definition of love. And, when you are love there are no conditions, no prerequisites, and no mandatory requirements. He loves you because He is love and you are His. Let that wash over you for a minute.
This summer, my son played on his first travel baseball team and, y’all, let’s just say it was a long season. After the first inning in big-boy baseball, I stopped hoping for a win and started praying that everyone came out alive. For the most part, it was a blood bath. But, game after game, I showed up with my jersey and my baseball cap. I yelled, “let’s go Big Phil” every time he stepped up to the plate. And, every time he got a hit, I jumped up and yelled as if that hit was the winning run. Why? Because my last name is on the back of his jersey – he’s my son! 20-0, 0-20 – doesn’t matter…he’s my son!
And, God’s love for you and me is far greater than even the love I have for my children because He is the love I have for my children. He is the source. He’s the connection if you’re feeling a gap. He’s the missing piece if you’ve been searching. When I let that sink in a few years ago, a love like no other filled the barren and empty places in my soul.
The good news is that this love never ceases. There are no time limits – no restrictions. You can’t use too much. It’s unconditional and unwavering. The source never leaves and never changes. Even when we sometimes forget or doubt, He’s still there waiting to fill the gaps – the barren and empty places. My friend, if you need this reminder today, as so often I do, listen closely – the One who is love, loves you. His name is on your jersey. He’s cheering in the stands. 20-0, 0-20 – doesn’t matter – because He is love and you are His.