Monday, April 16, 2012

My Purpose as a Stay at Home Mom

I love those days and weeks as a stay at home mom when my children and I enjoy spending time together. They play well, they giggle and laugh at one another, they share well and are just fun and easy to be around. But I have to admit, most of my days and weeks aren't like that. Most of them are challenging and tiring, with a lot of whining, disobeying, hitting, pushing, not sharing and making messes all over the house. On those especially hard days, I ask myself: why am I doing this? That is when I have to remember my purpose. My purpose as a stay at home mom is not to enjoy a slower paced life. Nor is it to enjoy extended time with my children since I am not working. My primary purpose is to train and instruct my children in the way of the Lord. That means that everyday is chock full of training opportunities. Teaching moments. If I am selfish and lazy, I can skip those moments and use that time to do other things, like clean the house or get dressed or talk on the phone or check my email. But if I remember my primary purpose is to train and instruct them, I am willing to drop what I am doing at that moment when instruction is needed and take hold of that opportunity. To do that well, I have to be willing to let go of my personal goals for the day, my personal demands of time and how my morning or afternoon should look and my demands for a little peace and quiet. Because of those especially hard days of training and instruction, there may be very little "down time" for myself. But that's okay. Because my purpose is to train and instruct my children in the way of the Lord and that is much more important than getting time for myself to do whatever I want. This is my job and I want to do it well. But what does teaching and training my children in the way of the Lord really mean? I know the character qualities I want them to emulate. They are the character qualities of Jesus: humility, love, patience, kindness, faithfulness, peace, joy, self-control, and hope. But I also know that it is impossible to achieve those qualities without first addressing the problem of our hearts. According to God's word, our hearts are deceitful, full of sin, and choose to reject God. Since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, we have chosen to go our own way. We think that independence from God means freedom. But sadly, it means death, destruction, emptiness and lack of joy. God won't force us to love and obey Him. If we choose to reject God, He gives us exactly what we want: separation from him. And we have ALL chosen that route. So my first goal is to show my children their rebellious hearts. That when they hit and yell and grab toys from one another, they are going their own way, against that of God. That their desires and motives are evil, at their core. Now, I'm dealing with a 2 year old and a 10 month old here, so I can't quite lay it out like that right now. But when they disobey, I can talk to them about their hearts. When they are not loving, when they are selfish, when they are angry and impatient and disrespectful. They may not fully get it, but my goal is to show them that their hearts are rebellious, just like my own. That all of us choose our own way and this way is selfish and sinful. But I don't leave them in despair. That's where the good news of the gospel comes in. That because God is holy and perfect, He cannot just accept us as we are. There must be a consequence for sin and death. He could've allowed us to just stay in our sin and go our own way and never know what it's like to be in relationship with Him. But He didn't, because He is a God of love. So He came down to earth Himself, in the form of a man, Jesus, and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, to bear the consequence for our rebellious hearts, to be that once and final blood sacrifice that was necessary to make our slate clean before God. My daily aim, then, as a mom, is to show my children their need for Jesus. Their need for forgiveness. Their need for grace in order to be reconciled to God. It's not going to happen overnight. But I know that every time I lose my patience, I snap at my children, I get angry because of yet another mess on the kitchen floor, I can get down on my knees in front of them and say, "I'm sorry that Mommy got angry at you. I did not have a loving heart. Will you forgive me?" Then I can pray with them to Jesus and confess my sin and ask forgiveness of my Lord. When they are in time-out, I can do the same thing: ask them to name their sin (not the behavior, but a heart attitude like selfishness, anger, jealousy, disrespect, etc.) and ask them to pray to Jesus for forgiveness. And if necessary, ask them to go to their sibling and apologize, asking for forgiveness as well. This takes time, this takes energy, this takes effort. I will have less time to get ready, check email, talk on the phone and clean up the house. But to me, this is my primary purpose: to train and instruct my children in the way of the Lord, to teach them (and remind myself) that we are all sinners in need of God's grace.

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