Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Curious Condition of Motherhood

I am absolutely exhausted, and I promised several well-meaning friends that I would go to sleep, but sleep is not coming easily right now. And all because of the fifty-pound person beside me in my bed tonight.

My seven-year-old son, Jaden, has become quite sick over the past few days, and just today developed a few new symptoms of concern to me. A physician friend of mine was kind enough to perform a little impromptu examination a while ago, which -- I thought -- set my mind at ease. So, why am I not sleeping soundly? In a word, motherhood.

Motherhood seems to be the curious condition of feeling as though a part of your heart has broken off and is walking around outside your body. As this part of your heart grows and matures, it begins to need you less and less (and more and more, paradoxically, in some ways), and you have to learn the art of the gentle, gradual release, even though it goes against all that is screaming within your heart (the part of your heart that has remained inside your own body).

Before I was someone's mother, people spoke of it, this curious condition, and I thought that I understood. Yeah, I know, I thought... So it's a love like none other. Got it. But it's not a love that is understood in theory -- only in practice. And, frankly, it's a little scary to love this way... This irrationally, this unconditionally, this completely. To pick a rose you ask your hands to bleed... to love a child, you ask your heart, at times, to do the same.

It's just an infection, this thing my kid has. A nasty cough, a high fever, some very swollen glands. And yet this love I have for him is so fierce that it bares its Mama Bear claws at the very thought of a threat to his wellbeing. It's an odd feeling to be this invested, on a heart level, in a person. It's the hardest, most all-consuming, exhausting, wonderful thing you can imagine. It makes the heart both swell with joy and ache in pain, all at once sometimes. And I only have ONE kid.

So I look at him, lying here in a bed that is not his own, an arsenal of medicines on the table beside his suddenly small, fragile-looking little body... and I realize that I am helpless. I can only do so much to relieve him -- whether he is fighting an infection or fighting a bully... whether he is choosing a toy or choosing a major... whether he is hurting or choosing to inflict hurt. He is only mine in the sense that I am currently responsible for raising and nurturing him. When all is said and done, he is a human being, and human beings to do not belong to other human beings. They belong only to God.

So, in the hopes of getting a little sleep, I'm returning him tonight to His rightful owner. I am asking Him to have his way, to do His job, to give me to the grace to do mine... which, as Jaden's mom, is to give my best human effort to nurture, teach, train, inspire, guide, and protect. And, having done all of these things, after midnight, to entrust him to the One who can do everything else for him that I cannot.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't Drink the Poison!

Late last night, I enjoyed a 90-minute cyber-chat with a new friend. What started out with "hey / hey" soon became a moving, challenging, and very candid discussion on the touchy subject of forgiveness. I was excited to be able to share some of what God has been teaching me lately, through His word and through the wise counsel of others, and through Rick Warren's "40 Days of Love" study. The 90 minutes whizzed by, fingers flying across our keyboards as we dug deeper.

As I see it, here's the deal with forgiveness: as followers of Jesus, it's not so much an option, really. It's a non-negotiable, a mandate, a must-do... but it's also an invitation. When we are able to truly forgive others who have wronged us (and we have all been wronged, if we are alive on planet Earth), we enable ourselves to enter into peace -- God's peace. After all, when we harbor bitterness and unforgiveness toward another person, it is usually we who suffer, not the unforgiven. Holding onto unforgivess, so the saying goes, is like drinking poison -- and then waiting for the other person to die.

And furthermore, chosing to forgive a person does not let that person off the hook, as we may tend to assume. God is just; wrongdoing will be addressed, one way or another -- but it is HIS to address, not ours. When we forgive, we take the offender off of our "hook" and place them on God's "hook" where they belong. Let Him deal with them; He always does.

Now, this is where is can get tempting; we want to pray, "Git 'em, Lord! Sic 'em! Shatter their teeth upon the rocks!" (to borrow King David's request)... but we have to be prepared for God to have His way, whatever that may be. He may choose to bring about justice and give them a dose of "reality discpline" -- after all, vengeance belongs to the Lord. But... He may also choose to be merciful on them. Not what we want to hear, but it's always a real possibility. And honestly -- how many times has God chosen to be merciful toward us, when what we deserved was unyielding justice?

Anyway. It's a subject that could be discussed for hours, and I would probably enjoy such a discussion. Holding grudges seems to be an innate hangup for human beings; we can all relate. But there comes a time when we wise up and stop drinking the poison -- or, we die of it, one way or another.