Letting my children see God in me

I was having a moment as a mom.  They happen to all of us.  We were in a hurry to get out the door to get my daughter to preschool on time.  I was trying to get the toddler to finish his lunch so we wouldn’t be late.  I’d already put on my leaving-the-house clothes.  I was giving him his last bite of pasta which he developed a sudden and strong loathing for.  His hand swiped back and forth frantically in the air knocking the spoon and spilling pasta with red sauce on the floor and on my jeans.

God used these lyrics from the JJ Weeks Band to speak to my heart right when I needed it most.

I was far from pleased.  I got up in a huff to get paper towels to clean up the floor.  I was trying hard to bite my tongue and suppress my frustration.  I felt very much like screaming, especially as the preschooler added into the mix talking about what her brother had done.  She gives us a running commentary all the time.  It’s not so bad except at times like these.  I yanked the paper towel off the roll.  And then I heard these song lyrics on the radio, “Let them see You in me.”

Suddenly my anger dissipated.  I no longer felt like screaming at my children.  I was humbled.  I was encouraged.  I was renewed.  I had a newfound, God-given patience to continue on taking care of my kids without residual irritation.  I grinned wryly and told God I got His point.

While it’s important to me for others to see God in me, what’s most important to me right now is for my children to see God in me.  And that’s the biggest challenge of all.  The world only sees me a small part of the time.  The world doesn’t know me and my facial expressions like my family.  My family sees me all of the time and knows me well.  They see me when I don’t feel well and when I do.  They see me when I’m frustrated.  They see me when I’m happy.  They watch how I react to everything.  My children are learning how to live, function and handle stress from watching my husband and me.  I’d be kidding myself to think that when I feel irritated they don’t know it if I don’t say anything.  I know at least the preschooler knows these things and it won’t be long before the toddler does as well.  I remember as a kid knowing when my mom was upset or irritated.  Kids just know.

It’s a lot of pressure, because I’m far from perfect.  I get frustrated and irritated with regular things that happen with kids sometimes.  Like the pasta incident.  My son was only acting his age (almost 15 months).  He has a very limited vocabulary right now and couldn’t say, “Mom, I don’t want any more pasta right now.  I’m too interested in my cut-up grapes.”  So, he communicated with shaking his hand to refuse the spoon I was offering.  Yet knowing this doesn’t make the situation any less frustrating at the time.  It just doesn’t.

However, if I’m working to be Christlike and to show my children God through me, then these are some of the very things on which I need to work.  How many times has God told me something or shown me something and I’ve defiantly shaken my hand at him, making a mess in the process?  And did He huff off for a paper towel trying to stifle his irritation?  Nope.  He patiently cleaned up my mess and showed me the right way.  He didn’t give up on me.  He didn’t mutter under His breath.  No.  He just lovingly corrected me.  Those are the attributes that I strive to emulate in parenthood.

I know I can’t do it on my own.  It’s not human nature to exude patience in the midst of frustration.  And so I’m continually learning that every single day I need to turn myself over to God.  Part of my daily morning prayer is for God to help me be the kind of wife and mom my husband and kids need that day.  Sometimes I fail, but that’s on me.  Those are the times I get too caught up in my own self and not what God wants for me.  Other times, I need gentle reminders like the song lyrics on the radio at just the right moment.  And still other times the reminder comes from the mouth of my daughter who has such an interest in and love for God right now that it just pours out from her tiny little body and blesses me.

Lord, I pray, let my children see You in me.

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