Friday, January 7, 2011

Be Patient...

Last week, as I was clearing out an old basket full of random things (yay for the occasional burst of organizational motivation!), I came across an index card with this scripture written on it. It seems to me such a very perfect promise to mothers who are in the thick of the work of motherhood, that I decided to share it here.

Please don't construe my feelings about motherhood from this, heh heh, but it is taken from a section subtitled "Patience in Suffering". Sometimes, though, we all grow weary... we all would be much more motivated (or so we think) if we could just see the final fruits of our labors... or at least be assured that things will turn out well in the end, despite present difficulties.
Be patient... See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. ...Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. ~James 5:7-9

A few observations about this passage:
  • "See how the farmer waits"-- Just like the farmer works hard and yet waits for fruit that he himself ultimately does not produce, we mothers do too. We pour into our children what is right, we discipline them as we think best, we instruct them in godliness, common sense, life skills, kindness & compassion, we pour ourselves out for them, and we pray pray pray... but ultimately, the results are in God's hands. Though we try to be faithful as mothers, we trust HIM to produce whatever fruit will grow in our children's lives.
  • "being patient about it"-- We have to be patient. Though there may be some general patterns (i.e., wait for the "early and late rains"), there is no precise magic formula for producing "the precious fruit". And none of it happens overnight. If you're like me, we're still in the early part of parenting. Even if we feel God's leading in how we love, how we parent, and how we teach our children, and even if we see some fruit (like joy, peace, kindness) in our kids' lives, we are still to be patient because from this vantage, we can not see what God will do and develop in our children as they grow to adulthood.

  • "Establish your hearts." Some translations say, "Strengthen your hearts". This patience we are to have is not a worried, fetal-position kind of patience, just hoping to hang on and make it until the crazy ride is over. Nor is it a passive, thumbs-drumming-on-the-counter kind of patience, waiting for it all to pass. This kind of patience is strong. Firmly rooted. Not torn apart emotionally if there's a bad day or week... but instead, this "farmer" goes about his work, possessing a quiet confidence that God is at work, and will produce the fruit He intends. We do our part, but then we are patient in our trust of God.

  • "Do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged." This last portion, when put in the context of motherhood, reminds me of how prone we mothers are to try to tear each other down. "I can't believe the kinds of food she lets her kids eat!" "Can you believe the attitudes she puts up with? What a pushover!" "Look at how unconnected she is to her own kids." "Wow, she's strict!"

    Some of these judgments come from insecurity. Some, from annoyance. Some, from bitterness about how we were raised. Some, from a feeling of superiority. And all of it is exacerbated by the fact that motherhood can be the most demanding, exhausting, patience-requiring job in the entire world. But this passage repeats the idea that Matthew 7:2 communicates-- that whatever measure we use to judge others will be used to judge us.

    So, in our patience (which can sometimes be a frustrating, exhausting season of work for a mother), we should offer grace to each other. Grace to make different decisions. Grace that recognizes when another mom just needs a smile or hug rather than judgment about her kid's tantrum. Grace to an older mom who has a runaway. Grace. It's my middle name, but sometimes, it's so hard for me to give it to others. And yet, it's the measure I want when God or other people are looking at my life... so it ought to be what I offer to others, too.

These are the main things I took away from this lost little index card. Any thoughts or additional "take-aways" that you see?

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