Saturday, May 31, 2008

Reflections of This Mother's Heart

It’s crazy that Parker Jane has been with us for over two weeks now. She has been quite a joy. Easy baby, at this point. I had one almost entirely sleepless night (last Monday) where the only sleep I got was during two different 30-minute periods. It was quite a night. She wasn’t super fussy, just wide awake and wanting to be held. Thankfully, she has not done that again. In fact, the last two nights, she has only woken up once during the night to eat. WHOO-HOO!!!! You don’t know how happy that makes me. I feel like anything I face during the day is manageable when I get that kind of sleep! The last two days have brought increasingly more energy to this mama. The first night she went six hours between a feeding, I thought it was a fluke, and I didn’t expect it to happen again last night. But when it did, I admit I’m starting to be hopeful that she’s begun a new habit that just might stick. I’m hoping very cautiously still. She’s starting to wake up a little more during the day, and it’s been fun watching her take everything in. Especially all that her brother is doing. Almost every morning this week, she’s had a long awake period where I’ve put her in her bouncy seat next to Jonah, and he’s talked to her and entertained her for quite a while. She’ll just watch him very intently. I love it. He’s all over her, very affectionate all the time. The hardest thing to get him to understand is that he doesn’t need to put his face against hers all the time! The girl appears to have some personal space issues, and he is not cooperative in that way. But I’m loving that he loves her so much. And generally, she responds well to his love. When it’s given at least a foot away from her face! I’ll post more pictures tomorrow. I don’t have my camera or cord with me right now. I confess I haven’t taken very many this week. Poor second child. But I’m going to get on it. She’s gaining back some lost chubbiness, and she graduated from newborn to size one diapers earlier in the week. She’s growing so fast!! =)

I’ve been reflecting on what I think about having a daughter. Honestly, it didn’t become real to me that she was a girl until I met her. I never expected to be given a daughter; I just didn’t. Thought I was more of a “boy mom.” Even though I happen to be pretty girly. Maybe my own girly-ness is what made me scared to have a girl and I don't know why I thought God would not give me one because of my fear. I should have known He'd want to make me face it! (And I'm ridiculously happy He did!!!) There are seasons of life that I so look forward to with having a daughter, but there are some that just thinking about for a second brings me to my knees! But as I’ve explored some of these fears and looked deeper into my heart to know why they exist, I’ve realized that the problem is really that I feel so much pressure. Pressure to model for her what a godly woman looks like. Obviously, the need to model holiness is just as strong when you have a son, but for some reason, Satan has had success in discouraging me in this area more with a daughter than with a son. Maybe the significance of my modeling of Christ is just harder to ignore now. I don’t know. But regardless of why the pressure feels stronger this time, it is something I have needed to deal with. The Lord has begun addressing the specific hang-ups I have in this area, and what I’ve found is that there exists in my heart this sense of personal failure. Future failure. A realization that I will let her down, that I will fall so short of the model I’m called to be for her. An acknowledgment that Parker’s mother is and will be a woman who deals with real-life heart issues and has her own set of struggles, insecurities, and failures. Now, it’s not like I didn’t know this already. We all know we’re not perfect. It’s pretty obvious. It’s just that Satan has bombarded me with these thoughts in such a way that I’m more bothered by it than I used to be. Perfection is something I will never be able to offer her. And to be just plain real, I hate that.

But the Lord has been so sweet to walk me through this.

I can tell He’s calling me out of that place. Because of Christ, things can be so very different. I don’t have to crumble under the pressure. Through reliance on the Lord, I don’t have to let Satan steal away any more of my joy or confidence. I keep coming back to the truth of the book of Hosea (my go-to book of the Bible when I’m struggling to walk in grace) that tells me all about the sweetness of Christ’s redemption and the beauty that its restoration brings. As I’ve been applying those truths to various situations in my life, I’ve been experiencing His healing touch in a number of areas where I’ve been living with deep heartache. This year has brought several opportunities for it, and the ache has been so real. I have dealt with soul-longings and relational hurts that have brought about some deep security issues in my heart. Being in the midst of those and being told I would have a daughter had escalated the fear of raising her. But as I’ve allowed Him to touch those issues with His restorative love and grace, I have not only fallen more in love with Him but I am also assured of what is most important in terms of the kind of example I set for my daughter: that the best I can give her is to allow her to see in action the grace-story God has given me. I need to live it out before her. Not try to hide my failures from her. But to show her what it looks like for a broken heart to keep returning to the Lord for grace and healing. To teach her the power of a God who keeps loving on messed-up people. And I’m convinced that really is THE BEST I can give her or Jonah. Or anyone I come into contact with, for that matter.

I recently was reading someone’s blog entry and was struck with sadness when I realized that she was still in bondage over something difficult she faced a number of years ago. I was so sad for her because I really sensed that there was still lingering in her heart some anger and bitterness over this experience that happened so long ago. It led me to reflect on some of the more difficult experiences of my past, and I realized that the things that hurt me that many years ago are not things that still pain me today to the same extent. They’re things that I don’t even think about that much anymore. And as I contemplated why that is, I was overwhelmingly assured that it has everything to do with God’s healing grace in my life. I have no problems saying it: this is something I really know something about. When your heart and head have been as messed up as mine and you experience Christ’s restoration in such a powerful way, then you do too. Then you, too, have a grace-story. And His forgiveness of our past issues (or SIN, if we really want to get right down to it) works something like a shower door that gets all steamy. You can kind of see through it, but it’s all foggy and unclear. You see what happened in the past (He usually doesn’t erase your entire memory of it because He does want you to remember the lessons learned from it), but because He brought healing to that experience or situation, your vision of it is not quite so sharp. Your feeling of it not as intense. You know there was great pain, but it just doesn’t seem to sting in the same way anymore. One of the most beautiful things about God’s grace is that it both enlightens and blurs at the same time. I think time brings that kind of experience, IF you let healing run its FULL course. When you stop short of experiencing complete healing grace, or if you follow Satan’s lead to return to the pre-healing state of your heart, then you are bound to experience bondage. Real captivity of heart. And you’ll miss out on a lot of abundant life you were meant to have. Thinking about how God really redeemed some painful experiences of my life as well as ungodly decisions has reenergized me to fight these insecurities I’m facing now. Remembering how He has delivered in the past is what compels me to address these feelings of failure and not get tripped up by them. If God has said anything to me this last week, it’s been, “Stop. Stop thinking that way. Just STOP it!” So I’m going to stop. I don’t want to go down the road that nurturing self-deprecating thoughts will most surely take me. I really don’t want to go there. It’s totally selfish. It’s taking attention away from the God who can work wonders in a soul and already has. He deserves more credit for what He’s done in my life, and to let myself keep thinking that He won’t keep doing it (showering grace for me to daily walk in) dishonors His glory in such a profound way. It’s like a betrayal of my praise. So while I’m stopping that thinking, I also recognize that it will take work. It just will. I’ll need to work through these debilitating thoughts that plague me one-by-one, and it might be a tedious process that takes longer than I want it to. But I will do the work necessary to replace those thoughts with truth. Truth says that the grace-story He gives me is way more important than my efforts toward an image of perfection, and Truth says that the healing He desires to continually bring to me is more effective and life-giving than a mindset filled with self-disgust that never turns to Him for help.

So, yes, having a daughter has already brought about some challenges! Challenges to my own heart, that is. I know that God desires for parenting to be such a refining process; it’s just been getting really personal here lately! And I am thankful. I want Him to take me to a deeper place with Him and teach me to live in His grace more, and I know I want it because I see how much I want it for my kids. And while God isn’t limited in what He can do in their lives, I sure am. I won’t get to be the one who leads them there if I haven’t gone there myself. And what real and lasting joy will be found in the role of motherhood apart from that?

2 comments:

Christa said...

I don't know that I will ever stop being amazed by the way the Lord teaches me through my role of parent...and I must admit that the more incapable I feel to do it on my own, the more at peace I tend to be. Being humbled is such a gift. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Chandra said...

Hannah,

Parker is so beautiful. I can't believe she is already in size 1 diapers. Lilly didn't move to those until 2 1/2 months. I wish I was down in Tyler with you and Shelly to share some of this girl time with our daughters! It sounds like you are having a good time. Thanks for posting pic's.

chandra