Today is Palm Sunday.
When Drew and Abby were babies, Matt and I sat in the sanctuary at church on Palm Sunday and watched as the young children walked up and down the aisles waving palm branches. After the service, we agreed it was very sweet and couldn't wait until our own children would be old enough to participate.
Today was that day. I told them both that they would be in the "parade" and that I couldn't wait to see them as they entered the sanctuary. I found a seat right on the aisle so they would be able to see me.
Abby's class came first and as soon as I saw her I felt my eyes fill with tears. What a precious sight she was - just beaming as I waved and smiled at her. Drew was the leader as his class came in next. Again, my throat felt tight as I held back tears. My heart was filled to overflowing with love for the sweet boy who smiled shyly as he walked by me.
In the moment, I didn't know quite what it was that would make me cry. After all, it was just my kids holding a palm branch. I don't get that emotional when they pick up a stick at the park...what gives? As I looked around though, other mothers were wiping their eyes and smiling proudly as they saw their own children.
I was not alone.
And that's because it's not just that our kids walked by us waving palm branches. What they were doing symbolized the great celebration that took place so long ago in Jerusalem.
On Palm Sunday. A day for celebration before the darkness of Good Friday and before the rejoicing that comes once again on Easter Sunday.
Hosanna was the cry of praise shouted in recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem. Though he was a king, he entered as a common man.
Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
The "Hosannas" quickly turned to "crucify" once Jesus was nailed to the cross. His crown was not one of a king, but a crown of thorns. A crown that He wore as He died to save us from our sins, though He had led a sinless life.
And the love I was feeling for my children as I watched them in church today? It cannot even compare to the love that my Father feels for me.
Because He is perfect and I am not even close to perfect. My love for my children is pure and strong and overwhelming in its intensity. However, my actions and words do not always reflect this.
I love my children and would do anything for them. That does not EVER change. However, I am also impatient, weak, quick to anger, and a whole other host of imperfections that leave me wondering if I am a good mom at all.
I was reminded today of something Abby said to me many months ago. We were in the car and I heard her cry out from her car seat behind me. I asked her what was wrong and with distress she replied, "I got a cut on my foot today at school! This is just awful!" I assured her that it was just a small cut and she would be fine. A few minutes later I heard a loud sigh from the backseat and again I asked her what was wrong.
"Mama, I don't like this cut. This is just not the way God made me."
And today as I sat in church and listened to the wonderful message from Pastor Joel and thought about the precious children that I've been blessed with, I thought to myself, "I don't like the way I am. This is just not the way God made me."
I know I was meant to be a mother. And I know that I am a good mother. But, motherhood is the most important thing I will ever do. I don't want to miss my chance to get it right as all of my imperfections work against me and get in the way of shaping the minds and hearts of my children.
Being a mother is like no other relationship or experience I've ever had. Sometimes it's fun and games. Sometimes it's long conversations trying to convey an important lesson or value. The days can be frustratingly repetitive. The hours are filled with a combination of activities that you wouldn't find listed on a resume. Things like hugging, caretaking, correcting, driving, wiping, laughing, cleaning, snuggling, entertaining, disciplining, sighing, reminding, conflict resolving, kissing, lesson teaching, prodding, encouraging - all as their own expressions of my deep love for my children.
And though all of these things do express my love for them, they also wear on me as I do them over and over and over - sometimes feeling as if I'm getting nowhere at all.
Today I realized this is probably how God feels about me - He is always there for me, He blesses me, He provides His word for me, He answers prayer, He sits in the aisle seat so He can watch me with pride...
And I am like a stubborn child who will not see it. Oh, how He would probably love to send me to "time out" just as I do with my children when they disobey, don't listen, do something that is hurtful, or when I know they just need time to think about what they have done or said.
I really heard the message today from Dr. Hunter: I can't believe enough to fix the mess I am in. I can't do enough to get out of that very same mess. I can't have enough faith to make the mess all go away.
A relationship with Jesus is the only way out. God's ability is what gets us through. To trust Him that all these circumstances will work together for good. To acknowledge Him - that He is in control. He loves me. He has a plan.
God made me for relationship. With my husband, my children, my family, and my friends. And He made me for relationship with Him. And so it is with renewed desire that I attempt to model that for my children. That I do my best to see them through His perfect eyes. Even when it is frustrating. Even when it is repetitive. Even when I feel like I can't do it for another single second.
Today more than ever, I left the service feeling the weight of motherhood on my shoulders. And then I went to pick Abby up from her Sunday School class. The teacher pulled me aside as Abby was walking over from the group.
"You know," she whispered to me, "I just wanted to tell you that I can really tell everything you must do with Abby at home. She is such a good listener - she always knows the answers to the questions about the bible story. And she is so well-behaved and has such a kind heart. She really is a very special little girl. I just felt like I wanted to tell you how special she is."
Of course, I thanked her profusely. However, my initial thought was - "No, she is that way in spite of me."
As I was thinking about the exchange later in the day, it suddenly occurred to me what God had done. He knew how I was feeling. He knew I needed encouragement. He knew I was having doubts about my impact as a mother.
And He provided Abby's teacher as an immediate response of encouragement.
What was my initial reaction? To not accept it.
A stubborn child...
Pastor Joel once said, "Mothers stand on holy ground." It doesn't matter if I'm making a sandwich, bandaging a boo boo, or teaching an important life lesson - I'm standing on holy ground. My actions, my words, my reactions to things - everything I do teaches my children how to relate to this world. And how to relate to The One who created them in His perfect love.
Soon I will go in to check on my sleeping babies. Their faces will look peaceful and innocent - like angels. I do this every night. And every single night I feel my throat tighten and the tears begin to well up in my eyes. Because I know what a blessing they are. I know how wonderful they are. I know their lives are so very precious.
And I know that there are so many things that I could have done better during the day.
I want to be better for them. I want to be the mother they deserve. The one God intended for them to have.
I want to be just the way God made me...