This may sound weird, but one of my favorite things to do is to follow my wife around wherever she goes. If it sounds like I’m stalking her, well, I am! My reason is not only that she’s totally beautiful and I love spending time with her, but she has a brilliant mind. I follow her with my new iphone (which I love), recording her thoughts. Michelle has a wonderful ability to synthesize information that appears random, and to communicate it in simple, easy-to-understand thought bites. Enjoy this article on “perspective” from Michelle.
This story is about perspective when parenting children. We are all familiar with the saying, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” The answer is a matter of perspective. How do you handle those difficult situations when it seems like the “glass is half empty?” How about parenting challenges when in the moment it seems impossible to see the good in the situation – are you ever thankful?
The Bible reminds us to “Make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)
Years ago, our family went on a camping trip with our 3 kids who were 6, 4, & 2 years old at the time. We invited Bill and Jill, a married couple from our church that had struggled with infertility and had no children of their own, to share our cabin with us. So, we thought a weekend with kids would be an adventure for them! And it was!
Our cabin had 3 bedrooms, but they weren’t private. The rooms were divided by partitions that didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, so sounds and light essentially passed from room to room. It was hot, about 90 degrees with no air conditioning, and it was dirty. But, despite all this, we had a fun weekend.
On the final morning, Matt had gone for a run which left me with our kids waking up at their usual time – very early – and they were very hungry. I worried that our 3 noisy kids, all demanding breakfast immediately, would wake up Bill and Jill. “I want a doughnut!” “Pour my milk!” “I want that cereal!” “I don’t want that!” I was working as fast as I could for about 30 minutes, juggling their requests and emphatically reminding them to keep it down. I don’t know who was louder, their whining, or my whispering “SHHHHH!” As you can imagine, I was getting frustrated and I hoped (but was doubtful) that Bill & Jill were still sleeping. I was exhausted as I finally shuttled the kids into a bedroom and tried desperately to get them dressed to send them outside. The boys were fighting on the top bunk as I was trying to prevent Anna, our 2 year old, from climbing up to join them.
As you would expect, one of the boys started crying while the other, brandishing his Star Wars light saber for full effect, yelled, “Let’s kick him out of the cabin!” I wanted to scream, “You’re both kicked out of the cabin!” But, I held back, knowing I had an audience in the other room listening. I felt guilty and thought how Bill & Jill, a couple who for so long wanted to have children of their own, would never understand why I wanted to kick my dear children out of the cabin! What kind of mother thinks like that?
For about a month we always wondered what Bill and Jill thought about spending time in the eye of “Hurricane Mielke” that weekend. Did they think we were terrible parents? Or, maybe they didn’t want to have children anymore after that weekend. But then we received a letter from Bill that I have saved ever since. Here is part of what he wrote:
There is a ton that God was doing there, but perhaps the most memorable will be the joy we experienced having kids around us. We were continually blessed with opportunities to share in the kids just being kids. I remember Sunday morning, lying in bed listening to the breakfast exchange. What may have sounded like chaos to some was a welcome interruption to the silence we start each day with. I lay there, feeling like I had this awesome peek into another world. I was hesitant to get up because I didn’t want to disturb its delicate balance (plus people were getting kicked out of the cabin and I didn’t want to end up on that list). Please thank Adam, Alex and Anna for being such great kids and showing us Christ by just being loving kids!!
What a perspective shift! That morning, I felt under-appreciated and defeated as a mother, dealing with selfish and insensitive children, yet Bill and Jill saw them as a “welcome interruption.”
Have you been there? Did you ever need a fresh perspective, a God-like perspective, in a difficult situation?
I’m sharing this story not because that morning was so unique and the only time that I’ve felt like this. But, as I’ve reflected on that morning and Bill’s letter, I’ve realized that I needed a fresh perspective with many situations in my life. I needed God’s perspective!
It took a stranger to remind me of the blessing in the midst of the chaos. I was humbled to realize that on that morning, someone else viewed my children as blessings from God more than I did. Psalm 127 says “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Do I always view my children as gifts from God? Do I always love my children just as God loves me? Do I raise up the chaos, the decibels and the dirt as a joyful song to the LORD?
Since that morning, I read a devotional that reminded me of that day:
For noises day and night, and loud music, and loud noise that passes for music, today I offer this racket to you LORD as the praise of “everything that has breath” in this house (Psalm 150:6) and thank you with each decibel of devotion. I give thanks for what I usually complain about, for what I can’t seem to control or change, for all the daily indignities of raising kids, for the humility and servant hood of being a mother. May God accept this list of ordinary annoyances as holy, sweet music of thankfulness.
I am so thankful God has entrusted me with my children and has given me a quiver full. I am glad that I have this story to remind me in those moments of frustration that God loves the noise and dirt and energy of children – even when I don’t! I’m glad I was reminded yet again that sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective!