If awards were being handed out for mothers, I would not get "most patient". Motherhood has definitely taught me a plethora of things about myself, one of which being that I'm not patient. I thought I was patient before. As a public school teacher, who had 25 first-graders at a time, I wasn't usually rattled by much, but my own three can rattle me plenty! I've found that usually my lack of patience is in direct proportion to the lack of control I'm feeling at the moment. Yes, another thing that motherhood has taught me is that I am a total control freak! When my children don't behave as I wish them to, when they don't do things exactly like I would, when they aren't thankful at the appropriate times, or when they use bad manners, I get impatient because I want them to do what I want. It seems that, truth be told, I want little "Jonis" running around (Actually, the thought of that makes my skin crawl! But you wouldn't know it from my attitude and actions.). But it seems that God has other plans for my children: to grow unique individuals created and called to do things for Him. And I get to be a part of that process. What a privliege!
A verse that's been helping me with this issue lately is from Phillipians 1:3, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." Paul is writing to his beloved church in Phillipi and the love he expresses for them in this one verse alone just blows me away. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Every remembrance.
Now, I don't know about you, but as a mom, that verse hits me square between the eyes with con-vic-tion! Because, quite honestly, I don't give thanks upon every remembrance of my children. Sometimes, my thoughts are like this one that I had just this afternoon on the bus,
"That child is driving me crazy. Why is she so loud? Everyone is staring at us. She makes me want to crawl under the seats she is so embarrasing!"
Instead of thanking my God upon every remembrance of my sweet middle one, I was complaining to Him about the way He'd made her. So, this verse has shown me that most of the time, instead of thanking God when I think of my children, I complain to Him about them. And that's humbling. Because I love them so much I would stand in front of a bus for them! And because I think so often that I forget that they are children. They learn from living and from doing and from experiencing and from mistakes.
As a result of thinking a lot on this verse, what I'm trying to do instead of this complaint-running-rhetoric in my head is something quite the opposite. Now, granted today, you saw that I completely failed! But now when I am frustrated, (or truth be told, about to become unglued), with one of them, I am trying to stop to say thank you to God: Thanking Him for giving them to me, thanking Him for the unique way He made them; thanking Him that through them, He is sanctifying me; thanking them for their personalities that remind me to be childlike and not so serious (read: controlling) all the time. Might I just tell you that this thankful attitude is making me a more cheerful, compassionate, and thankful (duh!) mama. I'm smiling more at my children. I'm laughing more with them. I'm trying hard to let them be the little people God made them to be. I'm allowing them to be children, and not expecting perfect little grown-ups in tiny bodies.
Are you fed up with your children and finding yourself complaining more than thanking God? Try to replace those negative thoughts with thoughts of thanksgiving to God for them (be specific) and I'll bet you'll become a more cheerful mama too!
"The unthankful heart discovers no mercies. But let the thankful heart sweep through the day and as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings." --Henry Ward Beecher