Monday, May 23, 2011

Parenting is not for the Faint-of-Heart

So, I've spent the last hour, roughly, sitting at my dining room table, just thinking.  My house is relatively quiet (well, as quiet as a house with four young kids gets!!) and the kids are busily playing downstairs.  And, yet,

Here.  I.  Sit. 

Not because there is nothing to do.  Upstairs, there is a musty stench that hits you when you reach the hallway.  I'm not sure if it is the three loads of dirty laundry that await me or the bathroom that desperately needs to be scrubbed.  There is a sink of dirty dishes in the kitchen and toys strewn around the house.  I haven't even peeked in the basement for fear that the kids will see me and then quiet time will be over.  We only got through about half of our schoolwork for the day before we (I) needed a break.  I have a mountain of projects to get done around the house before our home visit next week and some more paperwork to complete.  And yet, the silence beckons me.  To come.  To sit.  To do nothing.

Being a parent is hard.  Even when our day is through and the kids are all tucked into their beds, there is still much to be done.  A checklist to complete.  In some ways though, the checklist feels like the easy part.

Clean the toilets.  Check.
Make dinner.  Check. 
Give the kids baths.  Check.

What complicates my checklist though, is trying to balance it in the midst of relationships.  Making dinner looks a lot different with one kid hanging on me, another trying to show me the project she just made and two others fighting it out over a toy (can you guess who's who??!).  Yes, the checklist itself is the easy part...trying to complete it with diligence and grace, all the while loving on my four littles is what complicates things a bit. How often though, do I allow my "checklist" to come in the way of these relationships that I so value?

Isn't it the same way with God?  I have MY agenda.  I have MY plans.  I have MY checklist.  And in some ways, it would be a lot simpler.  This relationship thingy is what complicates matters!  Trying to do all that I need to do, while I am extending the love of Jesus to those around me and maintaining a relationship with God.  Yet, that is where the problem lies.

Too many I's and MY's and not enough of Him. 

David Platt, in the book, Radical, states:

"Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only He can accomplish.  Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, and we create, but we do it all while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God.  Instead of dependence on ourselves, we express radical desperation for the power of His Spirit."

Learning to surrrender my plans is hard, however, settling for a life apart from His resources and His Spirit is even harder.  Because, in the end, when I don't depend on God and try to do things in my own strength, I am nothing more than a Pharisee, trying to do good by my works.  I am holding onto the law, holding onto what is comfortable, and forgetting about the relationship.

In Luke 10 we find the all too familiar story of the two sisters, Mary and Martha, as they anxiously await the arrival of Jesus to their home.  Martha, is busy in the, cooking, baking....she's got her checklist!  Mary, on the other hand, is sitting at the feet of Jesus.  She has put aside her "to-do list" and is invested in the relationship.  And what does Jesus say of her?

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen the better part." 
 ~Luke 10:42

So I'm gonna give it another try today.  I'm gonna give myself permission to enjoy my kids amidst the clutter and chaos.  I may not have the luxury of abandoning my checklist altogether, but I will press into Him and attempt my chores in His strength, all the while investing in the relationships around me. 
The laundry can wait. :) 


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Kirsten...I only have one little one at home and yet I still feel the struggle between keeping up the house/errands/bills vs. building on my relationship with him and having quality time...after reading your post I'll be reminding myself to quit being a "Martha" when I start stressing over it all=)