Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Goodness Gracious"

I was given a devotional book for Christmas this year. It's not your run-of-the-mill devotional, either. It's HILARIOUS. It keeps my attention whether I'm reading at 5:50 a.m. before I go to the gym, or at 10:45 p.m. before I go to bed. I love it, and I love the amazing little truths it's reinforcing in my life as a wife, mom, and a child of God. It's called "Out of the Spin Cycle", and it's by Jen Hatmaker. I'm only on the 7th or 8th little 2-page devotional, but I am already ready to go to LifeWay and buy every book this girl has ever written. Love it!

I have been meditating on one entry that I started reading about 3 days ago. I haven't been able to move on to what's next, because this one hit me in a new and fresh way (PTL). I just keep going back each day and re-reading it, and I will continue to, because it's a truth that's important for every day of my life. I wanted to share it, especially with my young mommy friends, because it has encouraged me so deeply, and given me a new desire to spend time with the God who loves me so much. It will seem a little long typed out, but it's only 2 pages in the book, so please take the time to read and be encouraged! :)

"Scanning my bookshelves, I see about a billion books on parenting. I read eight books on babies before I ever gave birth to one. I've taken Lamaze classes, Baby Wise classes (don't start), and parenting classes. I've joined discussion groups on raising tweens and facilitated book studies on balanced motherhood. I've downloaded helpful sermons and read countless websites. I've made lists and plans on how to manage summer/chores/homework/discipline/sleepovers/house rules.
   And then there is real motherhood, which knocks out half of this stuff.
   Because sometimes, despite your careful strategizing and planning and reading and organizing, your two-year-old takes his diaper off in the middle of Target and runs up the cereal aisle while you scream at him like a mental patient. And sometimes, after you've planned the perfect playdate, your daughter bites your new friend's baby and flushes her phone down the toilet.
   And sometimes, when your precious firstborn son - the one you read all the baby books for and raised lovingly for ten years - opens a fresh, sassy mouth to you when you are already idling high, you accidentally tell him to get a shovel, go in the backyard, and dig his own grave. This, I don't have to tell you, is behavior Ted Tripp would frown upon in Shepherding a Child's Heart.
   Not surprisingly, when I made that shockingly horrible statement to my son, I was exhausted, stretched thin, out of the Word, and in a prayer slump. I was running on spiritual fumes. My only intake was whiny children, mountains of laundry, a Suite Life of Zack and Cody marathon, and four hundred thousand pieces of correspondence from Elm Grove Elementary to attend to.
   There is a simple explanation according to Jesus:

For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. The good man brings good
things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of 
the evil stored up in him.     Matthew 12:34-35

   Motherhood is like a pitcher with a hole in the bottom: a constant drain on our energy, patience, and tolerance. Every mother who is telling the truth would attest to that. Add something like a child with autism, single motherhood, a financial crisis, or a crumbling marriage, and it's a wonder we have anything left to give.
   Our only hope to speak with kindness, to lead with patience, and not to threaten our children with homicide is to ensure our spiritual reserves are not bone dry.. Moms are the middle of the flow chart; the arrows of exertion flow constantly out from us, but when no arrows of strength, grace, and peace are flowing in, the whole mechanism is in danger.
   Goodness in equals goodness out.
   No goodness in equals no goodness out.
   This is a simple truth recognized by Jesus and every other parenting expert, but one most moms fail to take seriously. We're too busy for the Word. We're too tired to pray. We have too much going on to join a small group. Under the banner of selflessness, we neglect our own spiritual health and sabotage the very service we want to render.
   When God's word is flowing through my life, my baby can spill his fourth drink of the day, and I can say, "It's just a drink." When I'm spiritually dry, I could literally lie on the soggy floor and bawl over it. When Jesus has spoken peace into my life, I'm able to discipline consistently when my toddler pitches her third tantrum of the morning. If my pitcher is empty, I might lock myself in the bathroom and scream at the top of my lungs.
   Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
   If nothing good is stored up, where are we possibly going to draw patience? Grace? Longsuffering? Young motherhood is too demanding to attempt without a deep connection to Christ. I literally don't know how women do it without Him.
   No, you don't have to spend an hour a day in the Word.
   No, it's not necessary to look up Greek definitions and create outlines.
   No, you don't need to build a prayer shrine with candles and worship music.
   But a simple space at the beginning of your day before anyone needs to be attended to in any way, a moment just for you and God and His beautiful Word - this is essential. This is where goodness is stored up for the day, and you'll need it; it's perishable. This is when Jesus reminds you, "You can do this. I'm right here." It's how you become centered and remember that spilled drinks and tantrums are a blip on the timeline of your life. It's when God can whisper, "I have all you need."
  Goodness in, goodness out.
   Take care of the first, and the second is covered.

1 comment:

Bon&Bud said...

Thank you for posting this. It touched me in SO many ways.