"One of the most convicting things I have recently come to realise about Jesus is that He was never, not once, in a hurry." - Mark Buchannan - Your God Is Too Safe
"Mum, can I talk to you?" My son and I sat there on the bed in pregnant pause, he had something very serious to share and I was clueless as to what it could be. It was the last night of a much needed break and it had been a glorious gift of empty space to 'be'. His words came tumbling out like a disturbed glass of milk, the inner conflict and burden finally liberated, and my heart broke.
He'd been isolated in this dark place, walking alone in the shadows, and only now, only when all was still, did he have the room to tell, and I time to listen, properly. I had seen some signs but only at a glance. I had heard some voices but only in passing. Now he had my full attention it was safe to talk freely without risk of a casual brush off or the let-down of a trivialised response.
In that moment when darkness came close I was so thankful for the light. We have hope, we have a Helper. It is very easy in these moments to feel overwhelmed and at a loss of how to respond. Our fearful hearts are tempted to panic and throw every formula at the situation. But as I look to Christ I know this is not what He models for me. Jesus never felt pressured or gave a knee-jerk reaction, you only need to look at the instance of the woman caught in the act adultery to see that.
Jesus says in John 14:26, "But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor-Counsellor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things.."
Just as the Holy Spirit comes alongside me to guide, comfort, intercede, strengthen, counsel and standby my needy heart, I am the one who comes alongside my young ones. I am the one closest to tend their hearts in the gentleness of the Holy Spirit, to whisper His sweet words of love, wisdom and comfort. But in order to hear His voice I need to make room in my life, to still myself and limit the distractions.
The gift I can give my most precious ones is my time, attention, love, a listening ear, prayer and watchfulness, stillness of heart and home, to name but a few. But I know this is a journey, and I've grown into this, it wasn't an instant reality. The correct aligning of priorities is a constant fluid work. I, like so may others, have a bustling little home; reaching out, hosting, running Home Ed groups and activities, we have friends and family, church life, a dog to walk, errands to run, housework, sickness, financial pressure, car trouble... and so asking the Lord to help us live in grace and choose 'the better part' is a daily practice. We will often fall short but we can keep pointing ourselves in the right direction towards maturity.
Guilt does us no good, we all make mistakes and always will but we also need to accept we can't control everything, we're not God! This is a tension we walk. The important thing is to learn and keep moving forward, keep pressing and 'living forward'. Children change so quickly and the world around them is changing even faster, God has given us the immeasurable gift of coming alongside our children, to be the one who sees, hears and understands their deepest needs just as the Lord loves us.
"Mum I felt like I was at the bottom of a swimming pool but now I've swum to the top and can breath again". Some burdens are buried deep, skimming the surface will not reach them, mining the depths requires much time and focused attention. If you're feeling pulled in many directions today and hurting at the tug-o-war between the needs of your children and the demands of life, why not pray and ask how you might scale back the demands. I find it so helpful to write a list of what I'm giving out to and then marking which of those are drainers upon my time and focus. Which of those activities take away from my ability to be still, to have room and a slower pace to truly see my children? If you can identify some of the drainers and weed them out you will find the other areas of your world begin to flourish.
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Resources to encourage your heart:
Sally Clarkson blog - Breath Free From Guilt
At Home With Sally & Friends - Podcast - Living By Faith Or Formula?