When I first saw them, I judged them. A couple with an infant in a stroller, parked in a handicapped parking spot in front of a giant box store. There were no handicap placards in their car; they appeared fully healthy. As I drove out of the lot, I passed two handicap-marked cars, the owners looking for a place to park as all the close spots were filled.
It made me angry. “Having a baby doesn’t make you handicapped!” I wanted to shout. It weighed on my mind the whole drive home. After my initial judgement of this couple, I began to examine my own heart. While I don’t condone their action, isn’t this just what I am doing?
If I’m honest, I expect special treatment because I have kids. I want people to hold the door open for me as I maneuver a stroller through. I get impatient if I’m stuck walking behind a person at a snail’s pace when I’m trying to speed-shop through the grocery store with my two whining children. Don’t they know how difficult it is to grocery shop with children?! I want to be exempt from the rules. And yes, I want the close parking spots.
Also, if I’m honest, having children feels limiting. Most days I feel unequipped in the tasks of child-rearing and kid-wrangling. I want the sympathetic ear and eye as I limp through some days. I want people to see how hard this is, and tell me how great I’m doing given the circumstances, and then offer to take up part of my burden for me. That is my very human, very self-oriented mindset.
Turning to the Bible, I am met with a very different mindset. Turning to the Truth, I know children are a gift. A reward. A blessing from the LORD.
Children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3
Oh, how much joy my children bring me. How much love is swelled in my heart for them. It’s easy to see the gift in the shining moments. But when my daughter throws a tantrum at bedtime, it doesn’t look like a gift. When my son burps vomit down my shirt, it doesn’t look like a reward; It looks (and feels) . . . gross.
Children are the gift. Parenting is a refinery. How can I reconcile the two? How can I take these moments of hardship, challenge, weariness, frustration, and find the gift? Looking through my human lens, I can’t. I want to scream or cry or announce to the social media world how much a victim I am in this moment. I am certainly not thanking God for my little gifts in that moment. Oh, my heart of flesh.
Lord, let me see these moments through Your eyes! Not as impediments, but opportunity. Opportunity for growth in character, for practicing patience, for waiting on the Lord. Opportunity to model the traits we desire in our children, to show selfless love, to sacrifice as Christ has so sacrificed for us. It is hardship, but it is also an avenue to the LORD.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the
testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5
It is an impossible task—the raising up of these gifts—one that requires much prayer and a teachable heart. I cry out to God to fill in the gaps of my parenting ineptitude. I cry out to God to teach me contentment and joy in all circumstances. He is the perfecter of faith, the sustainer of my soul.
Amy Dipane is a wife, mother, writer, crafter, and Jesus-follower. When she’s not playing make-believe with her daughter or chasing after her son, she’s sneaking bites of chocolate and trying to finish reading her latest book. She is passionate about libraries, muffins, early childhood learning, books of all kinds, and a good cup of coffee. Amy writes regularly at www.amyreeddipane.com/the-blog/ .
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