Kim...this is for you.
A sweet friend came to visit today. It had been some time. She lives a few hours away and we've both been busy having kids or something. Ha! But anyway, I love catching up with old friends and today was no exception. Of course, most of the time, the kids were running around and it was a bit difficult to keep the conversation fluid in between slips and falls, sibling fighting and little people wanting to tell their own stories, but somewhere in there, we got to catch up. I loved seeing her beautiful face and hearing how she's doing. She will always have a special place in my heart, that girl.
This friend of mine has two little ones. Oh my, I remember those times. People look at me with five children and think it must be so difficult. I'm not going to lie, it is hard. It's also easy too. In fact, I think every part of parenting is hard, joyous and crazy all rolled into one. But I remember two littles. It's not easy. In some respects is a free time with very little outside activities or school to attend. But you have to do everything for them. There aren't older ones there who can do most things for themselves and help with the others, mostly in the entertainment area. My kids all play together.
And then that got me thinking about how when I started this whole parenting thing nearly eight years ago, I stepped out in faith. Total and utter faith. I had no idea how it would all turn out. I didn't know (and still don't) if God will call me to bury one my own children, if they will grow up to be faithful, if they will love each other, or if they will succeed in the paths God will put them on. It's all so risky. And even more, it's really hard.
Just like love.
So often in our culture, if something is difficult, it must not be right. We don't want pain. We don't want difficulty. We feel it's our right to be happy.
But that's not what God says. He tells us, "Take up your cross!!"
"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23
I'm sorry but, dragging a huge cross in pursuit of the Savior doesn't sound that easy to me. It sounds heavy. Yet in a strange "oxymoronic" way, this is the path to life. For without us taking up our cross, we cannot love. We cannot give. We cannot have faith. We cannot see how God works through our circumstances. But we must be willing to bear the weight and pull. And if we love Him, we will do it, and in the doing, it will be joy. Not happiness, but joy.
That's how the last eight years have been for me. This isn't about me. I think it is sometimes. But then I'm reminded. Pull, Nikki. Work, Nikki. Put your head down and trust. Loving those I've been given can be treacherous, dangerous, tiresome and even really monotonous. Okay. Yet over time, the joy that is produced far outweighs any fast and furious high I could find out there in the world that just ends in emptiness.
Loving others is hard. Loving others is not loving yourself. That's only leads to destruction. Giving yourself away is what it's about. That's when God comes in with His supernatural power and shows that it's All Grace anyway.
I want to be the best mom and do it all right. But I'm not going to. More than wanting to do it all right, I just need to be faithful. Faithful to Christ, to my marriage, to my kids and those around me. In that faithfulness, I have to embrace the hard work knowing that it's producing fruit in the short term and the long term. And then, as I go, I have to remember...all is grace. The fact that I even have my life, is grace.
All is grace. All is grace.