Ordering the Heart (A Mother’s Day Manual): Reflection
We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19)
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.”
We’ve come down to the last R of our mother’s day manual series. And today, we will be talking about the least expensive of the four R’s I am advising to my tired mommy friends. It is called reflection, and all you need is a pen and a paper.
But then, what is even the best notebook and the most expensive fountain pen if we don’t have a good writing prompt? We need something to reflect on, we need questions, as well as inspiration. That, for me, is the Bible.
Early on in my parenting journey, I found the struggle to meet God on a daily basis because of a newborn’s sleep-eat-play intervals. They were far shorter than adults. They wake up every hour and feed every other. When do you get to sit down and do this properly, right?
When they get a bit older, they become clingy. I could do nothing more than feed and carry and prepare. Again, when do I do this reflecting thing and meditating on God properly, right?
Until I answered: JUST DO IT. Find ways. Even for only 15 minutes, if it means reading and reflecting with only one hand and the other tending to the child, do it. Even if it means praying out loud, singing songs of worship, jotting down thoughts on your phone while you watch after the child, do it. I don’t know your situation but just do it, some time, somehow in your day. If you could ask for 5-15minutes of uninterrupted moment and let the spouse, mom, friend, watch the child, then do it. And spend it wholly with God and His word and He will honor even just those few precious minutes. On a daily basis, if you can. In the morning before everyone is awake, if it works. So when you face your husband and/or child/ren, you are reminded that you are not lacking but whole.
(Photo is from billygraham.org)
“Bill was away for Rio de Janeiro…My job was to pack for the five little Grahams and myself for a summer to be spent in Switzerland. Only a mother who has tried to pack for herself plus five children for several months in a foreign country will know the difficulty of the job…After a long and tiring day, the plane landed in Geneva. We were met by the Tchividians, our hosts for the summer.
I was too tired to notice much. I just felt the warmth of their welcome and the coolness of their linen sheets after everyone had departed and the children had been safely tucked in bed.
The next morning when I woke and pulled up the rolling blinds, I found myself looking out over Lake Geneva and the snow-capped mountains beyond rising to the majestic Dents du Midi. Everything was utterly charming and peaceful.
That is, until the children woke. Keeping house in Europe, I found, is considerably different from keeping house in America. Grocery shopping needed to be done everyday. Not only that, instead of supermarkets there were small shops for each particular item: the butcher shop, the cheese shop, grocery, fruit stand, and so forth. Our bread was delivered daily to us freshly baked, unwrapped, sticking out of the basket on the back of the bread boy’s bicycle. Long, skinny French loaves crusty on the outside, light and scarce on the inside.
So I found a good part of my time taken up simply in keeping the family fed and the house run. The result? Spiritual drought.
For me, spiritual dryness usually follows an extremely busy period. Air must be still for dew to fall, and I was anything but still.
One day, Bob and Myrl Glockner, who were spending the summer in a nearby hotel, came by, collected our five children and Gigi’s high-school roommate, Dorothy Mayell, who was our houseguest, and took them off for the day.
I grabbed my Bible, found an empty chaise on the portico leading from the dining room to the front yard, and there, in the sun, I read Job all day.
I felt like the prophet, fed by angels in the desert when he had reached the end of himself – fed and refreshed. And, we are told, he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.
When the car pulled up the drive, all the occupants piled out, tired but happy, full of the day’s experiences. Supper was waiting, and their mother was refreshed and eager to have them back.
Now let that story speak for itself. The woman with five kids had to read all day, after which she felt herself fed and refreshed like the prophet who went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.
I have a question for you. Are you so fed and refreshed yourself that you can keep on with the strength of what’s inside of you for the next forty days and forty nights in the desert? Or are you so depleted that you feel you won’t last even one more day?
Most of the time, moms keep themselves busy running after kids who have to eat and kids who have to bathe, without knowing we ourselves have to feed our spirits and be washed in the love of our most loving parent who is God.
Moms, we cannot give what we don’t have. We cannot love if we’re not loved. So we need to make sure we know that even when all else fails around us — our financial situation isn’t perfect, our spouse is not supportive, our environment needs a lot of changing — we can still draw from the well of the living water and know that we can love, because He first loved us!
From time to time we ought to remember where we should be first. Put your oxygen mask before the child’s, says the flight attendant when explaining safety measures in the event of a plane crashing. In the same way, I think we ought to put our oxygen masks for the spirit first, that we may effectively give life to those who are asking for it.
In closing let me show you this quote from the book Women and Stress, “I realize we live in a society that applauds workaholism, but in the long run, neglecting our personal lives isn’t heroic. It leads to burnout and wreaks havoc on our families and future. Dr. Peter Hanson, a specialist in stress management, says that most accidents happen occur on weekends, when people who are already tired cram more activities into their schedule. His point is that we need to fill our days off with rest and relaxation. He bluntly counsels his patients: “You must pamper yourself.” (By Jean Lush with Pam Vredevelt)
Don’t be ridden with guilt. Recreate, relax, relate with others, and reflect, regularly, consistently, because putting yourself first in the right moments, is not only good for yourself, but also your family. If you’ve already been doing your best to give your spouse and/or kids what they need, this is already an accomplishment. I am not against improving yourself as a parent. I think we ought to always find new ways of serving our families, communicating and educating our children, but there are also amazing, amazing benefits in doing less than more for our families. That is, doing less in the right places.
Sometimes, we cramp our days too much with activities, thinking we must always keep each other busy, but really, a shared meal and quality conversations at the dinner table with all of our phones kept away, is more valuable to our wellbeing than ticking off a dozen points we’ve listed for a day’s plan.
- We are done with the four-part series. We tackled four R’s. Now of all, which R represents where are you strongest?
- How about where are you weakest? What can you do to improve this R in your life?
- Remember the heart activity on day 1? Well, let’s repeat it this time. Draw another heart and in it, write all the things that make one not just a mom but a WHOLE MOM. You may use this prompt: What is a whole mom?