Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Letters to Young Wives and Mothers...

Letter One: Should you carpe diem? Yes, if you think of this wisely."

Young mother, this letter is inspired by a blog post I read entitled, "Don't carpe diem". It was written by a young woman who is mothering young children. If I understand her correctly, she is not encouraged when older mothers smile and give advice along the lines of "seize the day, for your children will grow quickly." She feels that older women expect her to be blissful every moment of every day and, naturally, she knows that she cannot live up to this impossible ideal.

Believe it or not, young mother, I, too, was young once. I once was a mother of young children. Older women said to me and to my peers, "Seize the day. The years when your children are at home will fly more quickly than you know." This did not irritate me or make me feel inadequate. Yet, no matter how much I agreed with the concept, I understood it only in theory. I still had to live my life day by day, to journey through life to the point where this concept became reality.

Now, I understand this experientially. This time is shorter than you can possibly realize. The stakes are high. You are helping to prepare young children for life and for eternity. And, not so very long from now, there will be a day when you do miss your young babies and toddlers and even your teens! Oh, you will be so proud of the adults they have become, and you will enjoy watching them establish homes of their own. You will still love every minute you get to spend with them. You will not spend your empty nest years longing for a time that can never come again, or, at least I pray that you will not.

Even so, when you see a mother with young children, you will be surprised how easily these words will slip from your lips: "Seize the day! The years are short. I enjoyed every minute of being a mother." Some young woman, whose child is throwing a tantrum as you speak, will look at you with puzzled eyes. "You don't mean that you enjoyed minutes like this?"

I am glad to know that some of your peers find words like these to be irritating, for I shall be careful how I speak them. Still, if I could meet my younger self, this is exactly the advice I would speak. "Spend your parenting on the things that matter for life and for eternity and don't fret about the problems so much. So, your child is throwing a tantrum in the store. It's an opportunity to teach and to bond. And, one day, you really will miss even this."

I don't expect you (or my younger self) to walk around like some super-mother who has no trials to face. I remember sleepless nights and long days when every little thing seemed to go wrong. I suffered with my children through colic and skinned knees and the ups and downs of friendships and first broken hearts and learning to obey and learning how to make wise decisions. How else do you think I got these wrinkles and these gray hairs? In the living of these years, however, I learned that sezing the day meant two things: 1) to hold on to joy and 2) to invest in eternity.

Joy does not deny problems, but meets them with faith, gratitude, and love. It is possible to rejoice and sorrow at the same time, as Paul said he did. Our example, Christ, endured the cross for the joy set before Him, as Hebrews informs us. That joy was the joy of knowing that He pleased his Father and that he was pouring out his blood for our salvation. Following Jesus in any arena of life means that we take up our own crosses and follow him daily. (Luke 14). Motherhood is one tool God uses to help us die to selfishness and grow in sacrificial, Christ-like love.

On some occasions, it takes us a moment to tap into joy. The woman who wakes up with morning sickness, only to find that her older toddler is fretful from teething and the cat has thrown up on the carpet and the washer has stopped mid-cycle, may not feel like rejoicing. The trials of life, whether they are small or large, must be reckoned with. We do need to process feelings of fear, inadequacy, grief, and irritation. But, how do we process these feelings? By going to the Lord and casting our burdens on Him. The goal isn't to be blissful every moment of every day, but to trust that the trials of life are working a more Christlike character in us and in our children. Sometimes, our path to joy involves getting the help of others who have endured similar trials. If life hurts, young mother, say so. An older mother should understand.

Joy knows that life lived with respect for the Father is well lived and has meaning. What you do as a mother has great meaning, even if motherhood is made up of many daily, ordinary-seeming moments. Perhaps, this is the most important thing we older women mean when we says, "Enjoy these days." We are older warriors who appreciate the valor of our younger counterparts.

Joy also takes note of the many, many reasons to be grateful. Joy treasures up the many happy moments and the wondrous moments and the awe-filling moments.

To seize the day because the time is short can be viewed in two ways: with a sense of worry and pressure or with a sense of faith and peace. The woman who seizes the day well understands that the time is short, but she does not fret because of this. She follows Jesus' advice: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough troubles of its own." Matthew 6:33. Likewise, she heeds his admoition to place her treasure in heaven, where it cannot be destroyed by time.

God has set eternity in the hearts of man, according to Ecclesaistes. Perhaps, that is why we are not satisfied to merely exist, but yearn to spend our time on things that matter. Perhaps, that is why the passing of time brings some pangs. This is true for the mother of children, but it is also true for every person on the planet. Our days may be busy and full, and the time may either seem to fly or to drag. There are moments, however, when eternity breaks in and we ponder whether our priorities are on track or not. No matter what we set our hand to, the time flies by more quickly than we think it will.

In light of eternity, it makes some sense to evaluate how breif our earthly existence is.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

Seize the day!

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