Well, yesterday I had to make an apology to our youngest. But let me back up.
We have “One Another” verses on beautiful plaques above the windows in our church. Each week, a new one of the verses is put in the bulletin for us to meditate upon and memorize. This was the verse for yesterday:
“Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.” Prov. 23:25
I got to thinking about my mother. I think I got some of my perfectionist tendencies from her. As a kid, it seemed I never did things well enough. Words of affirmation were few. Looking back now through eyes that understand grace, I can see that my mom didn’t have a lot of mom skills passed down to her. She was only a girl (about the same age as our youngest) when her own mother was hospitalized and then placed in a facility long-term. It was a situation where there was not much parenting or mentoring that could happen from then on, and mom was raised largely by an older sister. My mom also didn’t trust Christ until very late in life–long after I was out of the house. So she didn’t have the comfort and instruction of the Holy Spirit in her life either. She did what she could do with what she had.
Anyway, I began to ask myself if my mother would “rejoice” over me today. I think she would. When I was in college, there were many times that she and my dad were a little mystified by how I had changed my major to church ministries. How would I get a “real job” with that? Mom had aspirations of my being a teacher or a nurse. But today, I am both of those things. I teach our kids at home, and also teach women and children in various ministry settings. Beyond the regular nursing duties performed by most moms, I am primary care giver for our youngest who was diagnosed about a year ago with Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve also been a “nurse” for myself through years of dealing with chronic autoimmune disease. Do these things pay the bills? Not really. Do they bring me joy and fulfillment? Most days. And that is something I believe my mom would rejoice in now.
I think she would also rejoice in what she saw yesterday morning over the battlements of Heaven (however that works, with the “great cloud of witnesses”). I was ironically, simultaneously reviewing that verse above, and giving our daughter directive after directive. She had taken a shower, but the soap wasn’t rinsed out of her hair very well. No time to jump back in, so we were trying to make it work for Sunday morning church. The dress was itchy. Her shoes were pinching. She was dawdling over breakfast. I began to get impatient with all these last minute things on an already busy morning. In spite of my efforts to plan lunch the night before and get it early into the crock pot, and lay out outfits, etc. I was still running out of time. There was breakfast mess on the counter. The printer wasn’t cooperating. Other small irritants were piling up to create a mound of frustration of Mt. Everest proportions. My words got pointy and prickly. My demands grew more and more unattainable for her childish heart.
All of a sudden I was not the glad mother. I was not the rejoicing one who bore her.
That one verse spanked me.
Do you memorize scripture? This is one of the big reasons that I see value in it. It gives the Holy Spirit a tool box, and He can pull out appropriate verses to fix my life conveniently, right out of my own heart.
It is true that the woman sets the tone in the home. So, if I observe a grumbling or irritable spirit in our kids, I need to look in the mirror first to see if I’m the one stirring that up. I could see a storm brewing in our youngest, and I was the one who seeded those clouds. It was worth the couple of minutes to reconcile with her and ask her forgiveness, even though we were running late. It allowed both of us to arrive at church with a cheerful heart.
Another small victory won in two small hearts in a small rural town on this small planet. But friends, oh, it was also such a very large one.