Before the coffee splashes into my mug, I'm already telling someone why we aren't having nachos for breakfast. I've already reminded a scowling kid that we don't play with electronics before our jobs are done. I've already gone head to head with a strong willed preschooler and I've already cleaned up a mess of sloshed cereal and milk. Before I take that first sip that signals the start of the day, I've already thought, "ugh. It's going to be one of those."
I have really good kids. But they are kids. I have really good kids. But there are a lot of them. I have really good kids. But I'm not always a really good mom. These are the parameters I live within and you'd think at some point I'd stop being surprised that this is not an easy life. A good life. A sanctifying life. A life overflowing with the blessings of the most loving God. But easy? No.
I settle kids with cereal, finally pour that coveted brew and sneak back up to my room for a moment of quiet reprieve. It's then that I think - when will I stop trying to live within the exceptions and learn to thrive within the rule? At this time of life, the exception is a quiet, drama-less morning. The rule is a little more chaotic. The exception is ease. The rule is hitting the ground running. The exception is compliant kids. The rule is high spirited, strong willed people who need my help to sort it all out.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the family as being the first church children encounter. It is here that they begin their lives in a faith community - not that big building we visit once a week. It is here that we lay down the rails of what it means to follow Jesus. Just as we wouldn't think much of a pastor who is wonderful when everything is going well but is nowhere to be found when loving people gets hard, so it is with parenting these kids. The way to show children the innate sanctity of human life begins with loving people who aren't always acting lovable. You can preach it til you're blue in the face but if you lose it every time your kids disappoint you, they're learning a different lesson loud and clear.
G. K. Chesterton says,
"There is the great lesson of "Beauty and the Beast," that a thing must be loved before it is lovable."
So perhaps the rule is beastliness, the exception beauty. But Mamas, you have a unique gifting to see the beauty within these kids even at their most beastly. You have the opportunity to help cultivate lovely people. You're doing it. Even on the hardest mornings, even when you're reticent to start, even when anything else would be more appealing and, yes, even when you haven't even had that first sip of coffee.
It's the way through every hard morning. It's the answer to every parent/child clash. Begin with love and watch the beast melt away and the beauty blossom. Begin with love again and again and again, and your children experience gospel in real life.
It's morning in our domestic church. My mission is clear and ridiculously simple.
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