Once we arrived and the course was set up, we prayed and had a short lesson centered around the parallel of our faith being much like an obstacle course. It takes patience and perseverance. Some of it will be challenging and sometimes there are setbacks. But the testing of our faith builds endurance and it takes endurance to finish and get to the end. And one thing we can know for sure, there's a great reward at the finish line...Jesus.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."I thought this was such a great lesson for all of us and a great reminder to me that Motherhood is included in this parallel. Raising, loving, teaching and caring for our children takes many years...a lifetime of years. As much as we'd like for our kids to "grow up" in certain areas or learn how to do certain things in our timing, it doesn't work like that. Just as the maturing of our faith takes time, so does the maturing of a child and his or her own faith.
So often, I catch myself thinking we should be past "this" by now or there are days when I wonder, "Why can't my boys just be kinder to each other? or Are they ever going to learn to clean up after themselves without my prompting?". You know the questions I'm talking about. As moms, we spend so much time teaching and training, modeling and even pleading with our kids to LEARN and MATURE.
Yes, Motherhood is like an obstacle course which takes much faith and endurance!
So, when my boys had completed their course four times, I decided we needed to leave immediately. Let me back up...that morning, I had woken up with another migraine. I wasn't all that sure it wasn't something more, but did know for sure my head was throbbing, and feeling like it would explode any minute, especially behind my right eye. I almost cancelled our outing, but hoped the fresh air might help alleviate the pain and nausea. It didn't.
So, with four very unhappy boys (some crying) loaded up in the truck, we headed home. Their friends were still playing and probably had another hour or more left before they, too, would be leaving. My guys felt cheated. I felt terrible for making them leave so abruptly, without even saying goodbye to their friends, but I was just too sick to stay another minute. They soon realized just how sick I was when I had to pull over at a nearby park as the nausea consumed me entirely. As I got back in the truck, red faced, tears streaming, there was silence. Now there were four tender-hearted sympathetic faces starring at me. I reassured them all I'd be okay once we got home.
With my window rolled down, I took deep breaths all the way home. I was shaking. The pain in my head was awful. I just wanted to crawl under a blanket in a dark and quiet room and shut my eyes. I prayed for help for the hours ahead, as on any "normal" day...peace and quiet don't typically define our days. And that is exactly what I needed most.
We pulled into the driveway. Finally. My oldest son who is eight, jumped out of the car, grabbing backpacks, water bottles, coats and then my keys. I was moving slowly. He ran to the door, unlocked it and ran inside. My other boys followed closely behind him. As I walked in, there was a silent flurry of motion. No one was speaking. They just KNEW what to do, how to take care of their mom when she gets a migraine. There was never a question or a beat skipped. My oldest two ( 6 & 8) made a bed on the couch for me with my favorite quilt, my pillow and heating pad for my head. Then they brought me a bowl, just in case, and water. And they didn't just hand me the water. They carefully let me sip it, taking turns to put it back on the table so it wouldn't spill.
Then they worked together to warm up milk for our youngest and put him down for a nap. Amazing! Truly amazing....a gift. And for the next three hours, there was silence. They played with their four year old brother in the play room, checking on me every half hour or so.
I couldn't believe it. And yet....I could. They didn't learn how to work together or take care of their mom or even learn how to be quiet when needed, overnight. No, these things took time. And often, their teacher gets frustrated and sometimes impatient, even ungracious with these boys....these sweet boys who are still so very young. God doesn't get this way with us though. I'm so thankful for His patient and gracious ways.
And on this day, God showed me that everything we're doing....all this hard work? Motherhood? It's like an obstacle course. He honors our every effort. He sees it all and knows our hearts. Every second of this high calling is worth it. So on those days when your house is a mess and it feels like your wheels are spinning or there's constant sibling rivalry going on and you can't get your youngest down for a nap....just pray and keep going. This is not a race. All of these days work together to build endurance and character in us and our children.
I was so thankful for the gift of love and care in action my boys gave to me on this day. And I am thankful also for the gift of being able to see the fruit of my labor (and God's) in the hearts of my sons.