Respecting Motherhood

rock heart child

“Come on, Mommeeeee,” she plead, stomping her little foot.

“Alright, alright.” I wiped the counter furiously.  “Just let me finish cleaning up in here and I’ll be right out.”

“But that’s what you said an hour ago,” she pouted. “I want to plant the roses, Mommy.”

Her father had given her a rose bush for Valentine’s Day.   It was gloriously full of dark green leaves with five or six scarlet buds on the verge of their bloom, a fine addition to her garden.   I sighed, stopping for a moment to measure what was left on my to-do list.  She watched me hopefully.   There was the laundry, at least four loads, a sink full of dishes, the sweeping, the mopping and oh yeah, the toothpaste globs clinging to the side of the bathroom sink.  I was just about to tell her we’d plant the rose bush tomorrow when she interrupted.

“Ok, Mommy,” she said, reading my face.  “I guess we’ll just do it later.”

Her small frame slumped in defeat. She stared down at her sparkly pink sneakers.   I leaned back on the counter, staring at the crown of her little golden-haired head. When she was a baby, I’d watch her sleep, studying the curve of her round face, anticipating the rise and fall of her tiny chest, seeing her long black lashes flicker as she dreamt.  At times, I’d have to be torn away from her crib.  In those early days of motherhood, I’d rush home from work, barely throwing my purse down before burying my face in her soft bloated belly, exhausting myself, chasing that baby giggle high.   I’d spent hours wondering what kinds of things she’d say once she learned to express her thoughts.  I couldn’t wait to interact with her on that level and now…

When had my priorities become so twisted? It seemed she was so accustomed to being put off, she didn’t wait for me to say it anymore. How long would it be before she just stopped trying?  Would I have even noticed?

Psalm 127 says “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.”

How could I have forgotten that? God blessed me with this thing, motherhood. I was not giving this role the respect it deserved.  My children are my reward, something that should be cherished and savored.  Standing before me was my life’s greatest assignment, begging to be nurtured, struggling to claim first position over every other thing distracting me.

I thought about the story of Martha becoming so consumed with the household preparations that, in her mind, were needed to host Jesus and his disciples. Her frustration overtook her when she saw her sister, Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, doing nothing to help.

But Jesus said to her,

Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” 

Suddenly, I realized the house will never be clean enough. While I was busy raking up leaves in the midst of a hurricane, my daughter was getting the “second best” message loud and clear. I put down my sponge and knelt in front of her.  I pressed my nose to hers.

“Let’s go plant the rose bush, baby.”

The dishes cried out to me from the sink but I led her past them without a word.  The pile of dirty laundry whined at me from their tangled heap on the floor but I paid no attention.   The dust bunnies crept out of their living room corners, daring me to chase them. But I wasn’t playing that game today. And when my husband got home from work, looked around and gave me that questioning look, I shrugged.  What did I do today?  Today I paid deference to motherhood.

Sarahs roses

 

third thursday

This months post was written for the Hearts at Home Third Thursday Blog Hop daring us to  “Unleash Your Power to Respect.” Click here for more Third Thursday Thoughts from the other Hearts Bloggers.

 

The Bus Bench

Hope-vs-Faith

 

He was sitting on a bus bench with his head leaned slightly back, eyes closed against the fresh light that warmed his wrinkled face.  He looked like an old turtle relishing the morning sun.

“Good morning,” I said breathlessly, jogging past him.

He opened his eyes, turning his head in my direction but I didn’t wait for response.  I passed several others on the way, a spandex clad man on a bicycle who nodded at me; a middle-aged woman gave me a half-smile as she and her fluffy Pomeranian crossed me.  I was a good 500 feet away from the old man when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.

Go talk to the man on the bus bench.

Oh no. I groaned inwardly, feeling the nervousness rise up like a flock of starlings spooked by a loud thunder-clap. I knew this feeling. God wanted me to do something weird.

Please don’t, Lord.  I kept my jogging pace steady but the intensity grew, spilling its silky warmth into my gut. Finally, I slowed to a brisk walk.

But what do I say to him, God?

Tell him that I still see him as a little boy.

I glanced back at the man who was a spec in the distance.  Am I really going to walk up to a total stranger, tell him he’s still a boy and then what? Walk away? Run away, as fast as I can?   I stared ahead into the distant jogging path, wanting desperately to keep moving forward.    I envisioned myself running up my driveway after a good three miles, sweaty and heaving… but would that accomplished feeling be tainted by a sense of spiritual failure?

How do I know this really you, God?  If it’s you, please make it absolutely clear before I do this.

I imagined a tree branch suddenly falling, blocking my path, or maybe a sparrow landing delicately on my shoulder.  In the bible, wasn’t it Gideon with his woolen fleece and incessant need for reassurance that God had graciously humored?

You know my voice.

God is so patient. Yes, I did know his voice. This wasn’t the first encounter. The few times I’d been brave enough to risk humiliation were always intense, life changing experiences. Other times, I’d hesitated, gripped with insecurity, watching opportunities slip away while God went on to use someone else for His purposes. Still wavering though, I thought, maybe one of these other people I saw before will do it.  I looked back again.  The woman and her dog were passing the man without as much as a glance.

No. You do it.

If I let this moment pass, I would never know whether this was God or just some random thought in my mind.  The only way to be sure was to do what He was asking of me. Reluctantly, I started back towards the man.  The blood pulsed in my ears with every step. By the time I got close enough to speak to him, my tongue was a glob of soggy cotton. He was as still as a statue, sitting just as neatly as when I’d passed him the first time.

“Hey there… Good morning.”  I stood on the sidewalk shifting from foot to foot. The old man opened his eyes and looked at me blankly. I cleared my throat.  “Um, you ok?”

The man sighed, “Not really.” He shrugged his thin shoulders. “My wife threw me out of the house last night,” he slurred.  He shook his head indignantly.

“Oh. Sorry to hear that.”  This man needed someone and God knew it.

“I was just out celebrating too much with the Budweiser, that’s all.” He chuckled sheepishly. He looked at me, eyebrows raised, searching for understanding in my expression.   “I got home late but she worries I’m not coming home to her or something. I don’t understand her.”

I studied him. He looked normal, like someone’s favorite grandpa.  His plaid short-sleeved button down hung open loosely, revealing a bright white tee-shirt stretched over his pudgy belly.  His wrinkled tan pants were clean. He had a head of thin white hair and his clear gold-rimmed spectacles sat nicely on the bridge of his bulbous nose.

“Mind if I sit down?” I moved across the damp grass.

He smiled, exaggeratedly dusting off a piece of the bench beside him. “Why would she think after all this time I wouldn’t come home to her?  I don’t know why she would think that.”   He stared at his weathered hands resting in his lap. The veins bulged underneath the skin weaving purple trails among the dark brown freckles. When he finally looked up, his tired eyes blinked behind his glasses.  “I suffer from the up and down syndrome, you know?”  He made a wavy motion with his hand like the surface of an ocean on a windy day.

“Depression?”

“No.” He looked away.   “I’m sort of ashamed to say it.”

“What? Bi-polar disorder?”

His downward gaze focused on his tops of his worn brown loafers. He seemed to shrink before me as he nodded. He looked like a lost child, small and vulnerable.  “What do you think of that?” he asked quietly.

“Do you believe in God?”

The man just stared.

“Please don’t think I’m crazy but God told me to come back here and talk to you. What I think is that God loves you so much he wouldn’t let you sit here alone.  Whatever it means, He wants you to know He still sees you as a little boy, the way you were before all this.”

The old man’s grey eyes searched mine and I watched them slowly fill with tears. Then he sat back looking straight ahead, lost in his own thoughts.  We sat silent for a while until a beige sedan pulled off the road into the grass behind us.  It was his wife, an older woman with short reddish hair. Her swollen eyes and haggard posture made me want to hug her. After we made introductions, she thanked me for keeping him company and quietly led him into the car.

Psalm 34:18 says The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit

God is so gracious and loving. God is so faithful.  He is with us in every moment even if we are not with Him. I walked the rest of the way home marveling at how God interceded for this lonely old man, making sure he knew the almighty God of the universe loved him.  God graciously invites us to be a part of it. These divine appointments are gifts that grant us behind-the-scenes VIP access to witness Him at work.  It’s in those privileged moments, we catch a glimpse of God’s face and come closer to understanding His loving character. Don’t let insecurity or fear steal those invitations from you. I don’t know what ever happened to the old man but I have faith that the encouraging seed of God’s message to him will eventually take root and blossom into something strong and wonderful and wise.