I think it would be helpful for me to post about a day we had recently. Painful, but helpful too. Here goes.
I devoted the whole morning to talking and playing with the kids: swinging, playing outside, reading stories, practicing writing letters, playing blocks. We just hung out all morning. I was so glad I had put aside all my stuff, since it turned out to be so much fun, and everyone got along so well!
That's where the good part ended.
That evening, once my three darlings woke from their naps, we had dinner company. Let me spare you the gory details and just say that it did not go well. To put it mildly. One child in particular put in a spectacular performance. The child I had worked especially hard to love and spend time with, all day long. Grrrr.
Our company went home, and as my hubby and I put our little angels to bed, I felt this seething rage welling up in me. I didn't even want to kiss them goodnight or tuck them in!
Thankfully, I ignored my urge to be mean and helped put them in bed. Once our house was quiet, it took me 2 hours to work though my thoughts and reactions. As the night drew to a close, I was disturbed by the way my kids had acted, but I was even more disturbed by the way I had reacted!
I felt humiliated and resentful and bitter. I couldn't help but ask myself why they would act that way, when I had done so much for them all day. What a twisted thought! Deep down, I actually expected them to pay me back for giving my time to them generously that day!
I hadn't loved them at all...I had tried to make a bargain with them!
Since then, I keep visualizing myself holding a large umbrella, the umbrella of my love. My three children are huddled under it, and I will hold it there no matter what. They can't do anything to move me - I am going to protect them with this love umbrella.
This love is supposed to provide shelter to them, regardless of the performance they put in. They may choose to leave its shade, but I'll never push them away or close it up. It will always be there.
Well, I didn't hold the umbrella that day. Actually, I expected my own children to do something for me, to cover me and my sense of safety and comfort. Again, how twisted! They are small children! How sad, to expect so much from such small people, but to give so little.
I want to be the kind of mother who is unmoving, who will always keep that umbrella up and ready for my kids, whether they choose to stand under it or not. I want to hold it there no matter what they do.
I would like to be a parent like Job, the main character of the most ancient book in whole Bible. His kids liked to have big parties. I guess he could have reacted a lot of different ways to his partying kids, but he held out his love umbrella by trying to do everything he possibly could to cover for any mistakes they would make. Here's how it's recorded in Job's book:
When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom. (Job 1:5)
But how can I give like that? Even when I have to give them consequences for what they do, how can I tolerate being emotionally hurt, disrespected, and rejected by them, and still keep on loving them? How can I correct gently, without resenting what it costs me? How can I think only of them, and forget about myself?
Only if someone else has an umbrella of love like that over me. I certainly need that, just like my kids do. I know I've put in performances that would beat theirs from the other night.
I'll close with a quote from Martin Luther. The language is difficult, but please, please work through it! It awakened me a bit more to God's umbrella of Christ over me.
Whenever we, on the ground of our righteousness, wisdom, or power, are haughty or angry with those who are unrighteous, foolish, or less powerful than we . . . —and this is the greatest perversion—righteousness works against righteousness, wisdom against wisdom, power against power. For you are powerful, not that you may make the weak weaker by oppression, but that you may make them powerful by raising them up and defending them. You are wise, not in order to laugh at the foolish and thereby make them more foolish, but that you may undertake to teach them as you yourself would wish to be taught. You are righteous that you may vindicate and pardon the unrighteous, not that you may only condemn, disparage, judge, and punish. For this is Christ’s example for us, as he says, “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He further says in Luke 9:55-56, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”