Gathering at the Well this morning we find the talk about motherhood and children, a topic I'm not well-versed in.
I would encourage any struggling mother to seek God to transform her heart. My nest is empty but I still pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be released in me. I have struggles in other areas of my life and need His precious guidance. My nest fills up quite often with visit from the Grands, Kristyn & Corey's precious wee ones, Nolan and Liam. I saw them briefly Saturday and they'll be there tonight I'm sure. Next weekend we'll likely keep one or both of them at some point overnight. For the brief time I have them with me, I want to be the best I can be for them. I want to make sure I am the best Nonnie I can be, and the best example I can be to Kristyn.
On to the discussion questions. Sherry writes:
Are there areas of hardness and coldness in my life? What are the roots of these? Do I need to release someone who has hurt me in my past?
I think many of us bring some kind of baggage into motherhood. This baggage can weigh us down and settle us into a hardness that rivals concrete. If someone from our past has hurt us, now is the time to forgive them.
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." ~ Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
This speaks to me and says that sometimes we have to forgive people in a very large way. Forgiveness isn't always easy, but it is a matter of obedience. It doesn't mean letting someone keep hurting you, it's a matter of the condition of your heart and letting it heal. You can forgive someone but still keep them at arms length, not giving them the chance to hurt you again. While God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west, we simply are not wired that way.
The Greek word for forgiveness used in the verse above is aphiēmi. This word means:
1) to send away
a) to bid going away or depart
1) of a husband divorcing his wife
b) to send forth, yield up, to expire
c) to let go, let alone, let be
1) to disregard
2) to leave, not to discuss now, (a topic)
a) of teachers, writers and speakers
3) to omit, neglect
d) to let go, give up a debt, forgive, to remit
e) to give up, keep no longer
2) to permit, allow, not to hinder, to give up a thing to a person
3) to leave, go way from one
a) in order to go to another place
b) to depart from any one
c) to depart from one and leave him to himself so that all mutual claims are abandoned
d) to desert wrongfully
e) to go away leaving something behind
f) to leave one by not taking him as a companion
g) to leave on dying, leave behind one
h) to leave so that what is left may remain, leave remaining
i) abandon, leave destitute
Look through these descriptions above and see how you can forgive someone in a way that is freeing to you.
Do I need to confess and release myself from the bondage of sinful patterns in my own life?
We have to let go of anything that is holding us back from being a mother to the wee ones in our lives. If we don't, our hands will be so tied that we cannot touch their lives and shepherd them the way they need to be. Whatever sinful patterns we have need to be removed. We may not even know what they are. We may not feel particularly sinful or we may be doing something so routine and habitual that it doesn't seem like a sin to us. We must invite God to search our hearts and free us. The Psalmist invited God to do just that.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." ~ Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
Once we have our hearts and minds turned upright, we can lead our children, grandchildren or whomever our charges are in the way that God leads us, the way of the everlasting.
What are some ways that I can turn the conversation around when other women begin to gripe and complain about their children?
I think one good way would be to listen carefully and let them know that you will be in prayer for their child. Just as we do not engage in husband-bashing, neither should we engage in child-bashing. Simply do not go there. Your child's dirty laundry does not need to be aired. If you have concerns, have a talk with a trusted friend, don't air the concerns in a group. Leading by example is a good way in this case. I can tell you that I griped and complained about some issues regarding my bonus daughter that skewed the way family and friends thought of her for quite some time. I missed my sister's wedding over it. Cultivating a harvest of bitter words is something that you don't want to do.
Pray for God's wisdom, ask if you can change the subject, get up and leave, lead by example, sit in silence, do anything but participate in a conversation about negativity regarding children. Revealing personal indiscretions skews views. This I know.
Name some creative ways we can create warmer, more inviting environments for our children.