When it comes to our kids...we all claim that we would do anything for them. Like give our lives for them. We all like to think that we would sacrifice ourselves for those we love the most. But when it comes down to it, how many of us are willing to do those little and big things; those sacrifices that our children need from us daily? i.e. giving up sleep, being willing to be peed, pooped and thrown up on, give up bathroom privacy, give up eating a full meal sitting down, giving them our undivided attention, showing interest in their talents, being present, giving up what we want, so they can get what they need from us etc...etc..
Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and hardest things I have ever experienced in life... all at once. I absolutely love my children and love being a stay at home/ homeschool mom. Though I love it, it doesn't mean it's easy or comes naturally to give myself up day in and day out for my little ones. Some days I want to push them all outside and lock the door so I can have one minute to myself...in quiet. Other days I want to lock them all up in a time machine so they can't grow up.
I had an especially hard day recently. No one listened. There were meltdowns every five minutes and messes galore. I could not get control of my children and it was driving me crazy. I didn't want to do this anymore. It was too much work. I was about to go tell my husband that it was just too hard to care for my children AND homeschool them. I obviously wasn't cut out for this. Let's just send them to school. I give up. But I didn't. I went outside while the kids were inside and I cried(literally) out to God. I told him that I needed help and that I didn't know what to do. I opened my Bible and came to this verse.
"He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it , he answers you. And though he gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you , saying, "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:19-20
Now I don't usually just open up my Bible and let it fall where may and close my eyes and randomly point my finger at the page to see what God has to say to me. But as I opened my Bible to this chapter my eyes fell to this verse that said exactly what I had just prayed. God did hear me. He was with me and would answer me and help me. And I love that it refers to God as Teacher!
Then I opened up to this amazing book I have been reading by Timothy Keller, "Jesus the King". He was talking about how Jesus had to pay the sacrifice for our sins, not despite God's love but because of God's love. He gives an example of what this love looks like through parenting. How children are in a constant state of dependance on us. If we don't make sacrifices for them in our lives; ultimately they will have to make sacrifices.
He goes on to say,
"Unfortunately there are plenty of parents who just won't do it. They won't disrupt their lives that much; they won't pour themselves into their children. They won't make the sacrifice. And their kids grow up physically, but they are still children emotionally-- needy, vulnerable and dependant. Think about it this way: You can make the sacrifice or they're going to make the sacrifice. It's them or you. Either you suffer temporarily in a redemptive way or they are going to suffer tragically in a wasteful and destructive way. It's at least partly up to you.
-----All real life changing love is substitutionary sacrifice."
Wow! Talk about God speaking to me! Oh boy was he. Here I was willing to do anything for my children... just not those things that were hard for me. I didn't want to be uncomfortable. I didn't want to deal with cranky kids and the unending messes they made. I didn't want to try to stop being cranky myself. I didn't want to try to show more patience or kindness or self-control. I didn't want to try to outlast them and deal with the exhaustion of disciplining them. I wanted to do what came easy. I wanted to give into my flesh. But that would not be a sacrifice and that would not be what is best for my children...and myself.
Our kids don't need us to be the best moms in the world, or cook the best meals, or keep the house cleaner than anyone else, they need us to sacrifice ourselves for them; for their needs. To just be there for them and be willing to give up our comfort so that they can be comfortable and loved.
I want to be clear in saying this in no way means that children should just be doted on and get anything they want; whenever they want and that we should run ourselves into the ground for them and never take care of ourselves. NO!!. I am saying that we need to give them what they need as their parents and to make those sacrifices that are necessary/ that are in their best interest to their well being: Discipline, boundaries, routines, chores, kisses, hugs, love, our undivided attention(for limited amounts of time;), our patience, our support, our help, our praise, our example.
I want us to remember what it means to be parents. I believe much of this world has forgotten what it means to be parents. That we should do whatever it takes to give them our best. Not that our lives should revolve around them but because our lives revolve around Christ we are willing to put our families above ourselves.
Truly the best thing we could do for our children isn't to save up money for their college or a new car, or a bigger house (though there is nothing wrong with these things), but to be present in their lives; to care so much for them that we do what we can by God's grace to sacrifice ourselves daily for their needs. To make those hard, uncomfortable choices.
The greatest thing we could do for our children is to sacrifice ourselves for them, so that they can see a living example of what Christ did for us.
Of course we can't do this in our own strength but as we cry out to God he will give us the strength to do what we can't!
Do you daily struggle with sacrificing yourself to your children?
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