Friday, August 12, 2011

First Things First

There are all kinds of future blog posts running around in my head. Some that are pushing and jostling their way to the forefront right now have to do with my kids. I hope to, periodically, write a few posts with the titles, "Notes to My Daughters," and "Notes to My Sons." Don't all us moms out there have thoughts we want to make sure we've said to our children? Whether or not they're heard and taken to heart is another matter. But at least we've spoken our peace.

I'm not the first to do this. One of my spiritual mothers, Elisabeth Elliot, wrote Let Me Be a Woman for her daughter. And, the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote the book of Proverbs for his sons. Now please don't think I'm putting myself in the same category of wisdom that my two examples inhabit. A Venn diagram of our three lives would show the only common relation present between us is parent. I do, however, like it when I at least try to do what wise people have done. With that said, I want to say some things to and for my kids.

Obviously, I'm wanting to say some things that I think will help them in life. I've been trying to do that since they took their first breath. But guess what? They haven't always listened to me! I know that's shocking, but they don't just say, when corrected by me, "Why, thank you, Mom! Of course what you are suggesting is the wisest course of action. I will change how I am thinking and what I am doing right now!" They've actually said and done things that haven't pleased me.

One of the things that I wasn't prepared for as a parent, was the vast array of feelings I would experience and the intensity of those feelings. I had always heard about the selfless, loyal, "mama bear" kind of love. I expected that and I experience that - intensely. But I also experience some intense moments of displeasure, disappointment, anger and hurt. And the thoughts I have during those moments are, well, thoughts I didn't think any good, godly mother would ever have. I didn't feel very loving. Where was a mother's love in all that mess?

And then, the verse that set me free and convicted me, all at the same time.

I consider the following my watershed parenting verse - a verse that's basically repeated three times - in Matthew 3:17, Luke 3:22, and Mark 1:11 (quoted below).

And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

Do you see the order of things in this verse? God loves his son, and only after he affirms this love for his son does he talk about being pleased with him. Love first. Unconditional love - not based on anything done.

God used this verse to teach me about unconditional love for my children. I am to love them first - unconditionally. The pleasure or displeasure (which will happen) comes after the love, is second to the love, doesn't affect the love. Pleasure (or displeasure) is a feeling. Hard, un-motherly feelings during hard parenting times don't mean you don't love your child. They just mean you, like every other human, have feelings. Here's where I have to pray one of my lifeline prayers.

Lord, help me. I feel _____(here's where I spill my guts to Him). But please, help me know how to feel about this. Help me know how to think about this. Give me the wisdom I need in this.

So, where does that put love? Love -that word that the wisest of the wise have tried to define - is bigger than I can even begin to describe here. As I think about what it means to love my children, I would tell them that their mom:

-Is forever and always for you.
-Is on your team.
-Wants what's best for  you.
-Is praying for you.
-Believes in you.
-Thinks God did amazing     when He made you.
-Is thankful for you.
-Sees you as a gift.
-Hurts when you hurt.
-Celebrates when you    celebrate.
-Is cheering you on.
-Chooses you.

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR DON'T DO. Unconditionally. For the rest of my life. I would like to say this kind of unconditional love comes naturally to me. It doesn't. But here's where the Holy Spirit helps me in my weakness. He helps me fight for this kind of love. To press hard into it.

I need to make this unconditional love clear to my children before I attempt to write any of those potential notes that I introduced in the first paragraph. Those notes will be  largely about ways of thinking and ways of doing. And I'll be writing them because I think they will be helpful. I hope they are. But no matter whether or not my kids even read them, let alone take them to heart - no matter what my kids think, what they say, or what they do, I love them. I choose them. I'm for them.

And I want them to know that first.


  1. did anyone else cry as they read this??

  2. I just did Amber! So wise Shelley! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Shelley, this was so good to read being a new mother. So much wisdom in your writing. I generally don't read blogs, but for some reason felt like I needed to read this and did. So glad I did. What great advice for my new journey to come. Blessings!!

  4. Thanks ladies, for the kind, encouraging words!