August 15, 2016

children are a blessing in the worst way

on a hill in our village there's a school with a wide, grassy playground and it's where i like to go read on walks with gabe if he's not too grumpy. i'm currently working on ann voskamp's book "one thousand gifts" and it's a beautiful read. it's the kind of book that encourages the reader to slow down and percolate on her poetic words about thankfulness and how it can lead to a whole, full life in christ. voskamp has an interesting fresh take on the story of the ten lepers for example. she wonders why jesus tells the one who came back to thank him that "his faith has made him well" when all ten had already been healed. she interprets it to mean that thankfulness can "make us well" in our day to day living, even after we have already received the gift of salvation.

this new take on an old story made me reflect on my own life and how easy it is to forget to say thank you, even while god's gifts appear everywhere i turn. somehow while mulling this over the image of my own sweet son nursing came to my mind. why? i suppose because he never thanks me or daniel for taking care of him and providing for his most basic needs. that then made me think of what the bible says about children being blessings (psalm 127:3, proverbs 23:24). i always assumed it meant blessings in the most positive ways: joyfulness, innocence, a sense of wonder, and ability to trust without question. i already know these things to be true even though gabe is only a few months old. but what if they bless us in another way? it's no question that children can be difficult and even straight out evil sometimes. traits like ungratefulness, stubbornness, and impatience aren't foreign concepts to anyone who has spent time with little ones. the internet has become a dumping ground for horrific stories and vent sessions from overwhelmed parents. comedians use their own children as fodder for jokes, cartoonists pit cats against babies with cats most certainly coming out on top (looking at you, oatmeal). this negativity towards children is everywhere, and the outcome is more and more young people deciding that they don't want or need that kind of problem in their lives. but what if that was part of the blessing?

there is simply no greater mirror to our relationship with the father than our relationship with our children. the absolute dependence my son has on me echoes the dependence i have on god, and so does the often complete lack of gratefulness. children show us with stark clarity the joy and pain that god experiences as our heavenly parent and remind us constantly of the need for his love and grace in our own adult lives. when they misbehave and we feel sadness or disappointment it's just a small glimpse into what he sees from us so often, and yet it can serve as a potent reminder of how necessary our salvation is. in this way children bless us in the worst way, and yet i feel so much holy joy from this "less desirable" aspect of being a mother. if we can look at daily struggles with littles as a reflection of our relationship with god and be thankful for it, i think our lives can become very whole indeed. xoxo

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