Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1 Corinthians 13: A Mother’s Meditation, Confession, and Plea



This is a meditation that I offered at a baby shower tonight; for some understanding of my interpretation of various parts of this passage, please check out my last post, "...And the Greatest of these is Love."

1 Corinthians 13: A Mother’s Meditation, Confession, and Plea

If I speak perfect toddler-ease (even with a calm voice all day)
but have not love, I may as well have just put the kids in front of the TV all day.

If I can communicate the gospel perfectly and eloquently, and I always understand what’s going on in my little peoples’ hearts, and if I miraculously keep a perfect home in perfect order and my kids on a perfect schedule (that’s the mountain-moving part)
 but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give and give and give of myself to my family and my church,
and if I serve until the point of total burnout
but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient,
even after the fourth water spill and a toddler who still refuses to let me put a lid on that cup.

Love is kind,
 responding gently to the endless toy battles and showing mercy instead of “I told you so’s.”

Love does not envy
another mom’s gifts or social position or husband or child’s developmental milestones,
and does not boast
(even inwardly) of her own gifts, achievements or family.

It is not arrogant or rude
to the husband who is inexplicably delayed in coming home from work and seems blissfully ignorant of how horrible the children have been all day and what that extra 20 minutes is costing me.

It does not insist on its own way,
even though I am (of course) right.

It is not irritable,
even after barely sleeping the night before

Or resentful
that I seriously can’t get a moment’s peace and instead am being force-fed fake jalapenos and cheese while two kids and a 100-pound dog crush around me on the toilet (true story).

It does not gloat or feel better about myself when other people’s kids melt down in public,
but rejoices when my kids or anyone shows even the slightest inclination toward repentance or loving the truth.

Love presses on, even when I’m so, so tired;
strives for consistency and joy, even when I don’t feel like it;
trusts that seeds sown now will reap a harvest;
reads Curious George Makes Pancakes for the umpteenth time in a row, with enthusiasm.

Love keeps doing all this not just because I’m a mom and that’s what moms do,
but also because my children are a precious gift to be stewarded for a short time, and so I press on through tears of laughter and tears of pain and tears of sheer exhaustion.

As cliché as it sounds, this time of intense work will fade away.
The little achievements that seem to define my sense of well-being or self-worth, they will cease.
As for the all-consuming schooling decisions and parenting what-if’s, they will pass away.

For we only see a small glimmer of who God created our kids to be, and we often only see the hard work of each day, but when Christ returns, the true value of our efforts (or not) will be revealed.

Everything that I do here on earth is temporary, and yet how I do it is eternal. When Christ returns, it won’t matter how early my kids knew the catechism, how clean my kitchen and bathrooms were, or how well-behaved my kids were at restaurants. These things are important, but only if I see them as the training ground for eternity. When Christ returns, he will make plain to us what is really important and valuable, and in the meanwhile …

Oh, Lord!

Paul intended this passage to be a mirror, held up before the Corinthians to see how, even at their best, they were rotten through-and-through, pursuing their own glory at the expense of their community.

As a mirror to my own life, 1 Corinthians 13 shows me a lot of rottenness, too. I see so many deficiencies in how I love my family and my community. But I do not do justice to the cross if I stop there. The cross tells me that it is impossible for me to ever love like this, but that love like this is possible, and that it is within reach.

Above all, God, I pray that you would pour your love into my children’s hearts, that they would know, deep inside, with unshakeable conviction, that you have loved them like this … to the death.

As a mom, I want so badly to control my kids’ lives, for my own comfort and glory, and for theirs. In your infinite love and wisdom, you teach me through this parenting journey that my kids are not my own, that I cannot control them, and that I cannot control or bargain with you where they are concerned.

My job is to be faithful where you have called me,
to sow with hope,
and to love those entrusted to me.

“And so these three remain: faith, hope, and love…”

Give me faith, Lord, in all that you are and all that you have promised.
Give me hope, Lord, that the seeds I sow will bear fruit in your time and plan.
Above all, Lord, give me love, love for you. Love that spills over into my family, my friends, and my community in joyful worship and service. So much that when my children one day reflect on their upbringing, they will do so with gratitude, not for my love, but because my love pointed them to this promise:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Amen.

3 comments:

Lael said...

SOOO good girl! Perfect, beautiful and OH SO timely! As I sit here sipping my coffee, thinking about how much I regret going to the gym last night which caused my bedtime to be pushed to 1am so I could finish washing those last dishes. Thank you for the encouragement!!

Betty A. said...

Would you please give me permission to share copies of this with 15 people in a study group this summer on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha world? Of course, we would put the source Thanks--it is soooo good.

Molly said...

Sure, Betty, you're welcome to share with your Bible Study - thanks for asking!