I often describe the troubling times I have with my children on this blog (like here, here and here), but today I had some clarity. As I sit here in a rare moment of being completely alone on a rainy morning, I’m thinking of the ways the kids have enriched my life and character. Yes, they’re cute and I love seeing the world fresh through their eyes, but I’m talking about something deeper than that.
Of course a deep, protective, unconditional love has arose out of us as mothers that we didn’t know didn’t know our hearts capable of, but our kids have altered us in smaller, more intricate ways as well. They’ve enriched our character in more subtle ways than we might have noticed.
During my quiet time with the Lord this morning, my mind started to sink into the devotional I am reading. Books have an almost hypnotic effect on me. I get inside my head and can think of nothing else, comparing what I’ve learned and applying it to real life circumstances. Does it hold up? Is God’s word true? I started down this path as I sat down with the book and cup of coffee, and I didn’t like it. I finally have a moment by myself, why do I want to jump down this rabbit hole of deep thinking? Can’t I just enjoy the book for what it is?!
That’s when the Lord brought to my attention the countless times my children have prevented me from retreating inside my own head in moments like this. It’s impossible to chase a melancholy train of thought when someone wearing a princess dress and Captain America mask is tugging on my arm! Lately I’ve been lamenting the non-stop interruptions — with three kids there’s always somebody who needs something or is unhappy — but isn’t it just like God to turn it around and show me that these are also blessings.
These things each consecutively popped into mind:
I am forced to be present.
Kids live in the right now, not the past or future or even half an hour ago. In their world, yesterday was yesterday and 20 minutes is a long time away. Some of us, on the other hand, tend to repeatedly recount things and live in the past, while others continually fast forward ahead and live in the future. Neither one of these work — God tells us to live in the present — and kids seem to have that figured out.
I am always thinking of what lies ahead and trying to plan for every senario the future might hold. (That’s fear-based thinking by the way, and I’m working on it.) But my kids are an anchor that drags me right back to the present with spilled milk that needs cleaned up and incessant chatter about bugs and Pokémon cards. They force me to live in the present, what is happening in front of me right now, not 10 years from now. And that is a good thing.
I can’t please everyone.
My people-pleasing problem has collided with a brick wall. I just can’t make everyone around me happy with three little kids. We’re a loud, messy circus when we’re out. Even though I try to keep it contained, it’s impossible.
Though painful, these past six years of screaming kids on airplanes, fits in stores, wrestling in lobbies and general acting out in public have been good for me! My children are a reflection on me, but they’re not perfect and neither am I. If you are a perfectionist, I know you hear me on this one! And if you’re a perfectionist people-pleaser (Lord, help us both, because I am too!) this verse has helped me so much. There’s only one whose approval we need to seek — and ironically if we are seeking his approval, others will be drawn to us.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. — Galations 1:10
My patience threshold has greatly increased.
I wouldn’t say that I naturally have a large amount of patience, but having kids has forced me to grow in this area. Typically I expect a lot from myself and from others, but having kids has widened my view and made me more accepting. I see that it’s hard to balance it all and things get left off the list and texts don’t get returned. I understand now that a person who is speaking in a rude manner might be having a terrible day. Plus all the noise and chaos that always surrounds me has made me much more oblivious to annoying habits or behavior!
I’m more intuitive.
Have you noticed that you rely more on your intuition after having a child? You just know something’s not right or that something won’t work. I am more aware of our environment and who is in it. My kids have sharpened my intuition and taught me to listen to it. When I notice a red flag, I pay attention to it. Even if it just means I see a sheet of paper on the floor and I know good and well a kid is going to come running through and slip on it!
We won’t mention the that Clara ran around this pond, on top of that raised ledge and about to fall in at any second, with me chasing her manically as people stared. My intuition was that she would fall in, and she almost did! ;)
I start to see my role as God’s child.
Clara wants to eat the whole bottle of gummy vitamins, but I take it away from her. She doesn’t know that it might cause her harm or make her sick, so she is mad at me. But I know more than my two year old and as her parent I want to protect her. It works this way with God as well. Maybe you don’t understand why your boyfriend broke up with you, you lost your job or things didn’t work out the way you had planned. But God knows the bigger picture and is working for our good, even though it hurts and is not what we would choose for ourselves.
Another example is discipline. He is a perfect and loving father who disciplines us. I have learned this year that discipline is different from punishment. Punishment is a direct penalty. Discipline is correction and guidance to grow your character. We correct our children so they will grow into wise, loving, compassionate individuals. God does the same, only perfectly. Take the time to see in hindsight how things that once devastated you have gone on to benefit you.
My children are not my own.
Earlier this year little Clara had a scary emergency and I had to take her to the ER. As I drove her there I prayed out loud over her for God’s healing, protection, favor, presence, the right doctor. I prayed we would bring him glory. This is the very first time I have prayed to be a vessel for God’s glory in the moment of a crisis. And he blessed that.
The receptionist tried to take her name but I was crying, shaking and having a hard time getting words out. “Kate! What happened?” I heard behind me. It was my friend Daimy — not just any friend, but one who knows more about prayers for children’s health and healing than most.
She told me I had left my car door open so she knew something was wrong. She went to shut it for me with her baby on her hip and said she would be right back to pray with me. I finished with the receptionist and she sat down with me right there in the lobby, with our babies on our laps, and she prayed healing and peace over us. I knew God was with us, but his mercy to send a friend in our time of need filled my heart so full I thought it would burst. What are the chances of that?
I learned that the things that happen to us happen with a safety net, God’s own hand. He has gone before us, he will defend us from behind (Isaiah 52:12). SO very many things could go wrong but don’t. He has chosen the things that will happen to me and my family and I trust him. I finally trust him! May all that happens to us bring him glory.
Never has my faith been tested like it has since giving birth. I love my children fiercely and intensely, but God loves them more. I consider them mine, but they belong to him. He has entrusted me with their care and I need to lay aside my worry, pray for them and trust that the Father knows best.
How about you? Have your kids changed your character? In what ways?