Monday, March 26, 2012

Growing in Love: An Answered Prayer

For over a year now my earnest prayer has been, "Lord, teach me to love." This prayer request originally arose during a trying time I had with our oldest daughter, then two, as well as an inner struggle I was having about my own identity. 

Because my daughter seemed to require so much of my attention, I struggled with anxiety over how best to meet her needs while still maintaining my own and keeping my sanity. I felt guilty for wanting time to myself but also resentment towards my daughter. I knew something had to change. I was miserable.  

So, I began to pray that God would show me how to love my daughter more deeply, to grow me in my capacity to love her, and to decrease "me" and increase "us."

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you."
I Thessalonians 3:12

If anyone can show us how to love, it's the Lord: the One who laid down His life for us. But learning how to love was never something I had concerned myself with before I had children. I didn't realize what a challenge it could be to truly love the way God calls us to love others:

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."
I John 3:16
The Lord's call for me to love my children sacrificially has meant the shedding of buckets of tears as well as many intense moments of anger and frustration. I have felt at times like a woman with a split personality: torn between holding on to my old self and putting my needs first or removing the old and accepting my new self and putting the needs of my family and others first. 

The grappling over a "lost" identity shook me to the core, but I have since realized that I have not "lost" anything. Instead, like Paul, I have gained everything! 
"...I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."
 Philippians 3:8

Looking back, I can clearly see the change God has worked in me for my good and for the good of our family. And I know He is still at work in me.

Yes, I do struggle daily to love my children the way my Father loves me. There are too many moments when harsh words slip from my tongue and cut my daughter to the quick. There are still too many instances when I don't control my temper but lash out in hurtful ways. I also still long for more time to myself. But I am finding more joy in being with my children than by myself or with others. That is a big change for me.

Motherhood is character-building. It is identity-changing. Beginning first in the throes of labor, it turns you inside-out and outside-in. Once you think you’ve gotten it figured out, it knocks you down, breathless. Thankfully, there are beautiful pauses in between when life glides smoothly along, and you can catch your breath and feel at peace.

Motherhood breaks your heart, pushes you to the limit and beyond, and shows you that you are capable of enduring even more than you ever thought possible.

Besides becoming a follower of Christ, there is nothing in this world that has changed "who I am" more than carrying, laboring, delivering, and mothering my own children. Praying for a deeper capacity to love has been life-changing for me as a mother. I pray God will continue to grow me in His love.

How has God "grown" YOU as a mom?

Praying God's richest blessings on you!


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  1. Beautiful post! "Lord, teach me to love" has been my heart cry for many years now. I didn't realize how much I love myself and how little I love others until I became a mother!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. It's nice to know I'm not alone, Tara. Some moms I see appear to be overflowing with love for their kids. That's what I want, and I know the Lord can show me how to love like that. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Very honest post that points us in the right direction for finding how to love. I pray that you will "struggle well." Bless you,

    1. Thank you, Gail. You are right! You can't look to anyone or thing other than God for the source of love. If you do, you will never find what you are looking for.

  3. I love this line, "Motherhood breaks your heart, pushes you to the limit and beyond, and shows you that you are capable of enduring even more than you ever thought possible."

    I often seek time to be alone for a bit. We all need it!

    1. Thanks!

      I totally agree with you about the need for time alone. Why do we Moms feel so guilty about it though?

      Blessings to you!

  4. Great post. So honest and no you are not alone! Please come link up with me. I started a link up for women being honest and real!

    1. Thanks, Jessi. Stopped by your blog and loved it! It's hard work being a Mommy! Glad you stopped by!

  5. Great Post, I have a daughter much like yours and I'm daily pushed to the limit of what I think I can handle. But as I look back over the years I see how much God has grown and stretched me, especially in the area of having patience and being slow to get angry.
    Time alone with God is the only way I've learned to handle my strong willed child with grace.

    1. I agree completely, Alecia. When I have quiet time in prayer and in the Word, I am much more patient and compassionate towards my daughters. Some days are very trying, but when I call upon Him, He always answers, giving me exactly what I need.

  6. This is beautiful and I'm right there with you. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Tauna. It's nice to know you're not alone! Mothering can be a bit isolating at times. :)

  7. Motherhood sharpens us and runs us through kilns daily, it seems.

    I thought I knew what we were stepping into when we had our daughters, but still, we were really set back on our heels by the challenges of parenting. You are so right when you note that it shows us we are capable of so much more than we realize.

    In spite of the challenges and difficulties, I love how it has grown and challenged and matured me.

  8. Thank you for such an honest post.

    "I didn't realize what a challenge it could be to truly love the way God calls us to love others."

    Through my 19 years of parenting, I have struggled with realizing that my children aren't going to be little me's--they are who God made them and sometimes not as compliant as I was as a child. We never stop growing as children and praise God for loving us through our growth and struggles.