I’m four months pregnant with our fourth child (not sure I’ve mentioned that yet, but if I haven’t you won’t be too surprised if you’re a regular reader here), and lately I battle a fair bit of fatigue. I slept terribly on Friday night and yesterday woke up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. It had been a long week, and as hunting season just started my husband was out for the morning, so I was on my own with the three kids. That plus preparing for a full weekend – Halloween today and our eldest’s fifth birthday on Monday – and I was a crank.
The two bigger kids bickered considerably throughout the morning,the baby refused her morning nap, and when my husband returned I begged off our son’s 11 AM soccer game (he took all the kids) so I could go back to bed. As I lay down I felt God prodding me. All I wanted to do was crumple into a heap of moodiness and slumber. But, as God pointed out, I was riddled with thanklessness. In my mind I was rehearsing all the frustrating things about my life and home and family, feeling completely sorry for myself, when in reality He has given me blessing upon blessing. Here it was, the five-year anniversary of my becoming a mother, and all I could do was internally whine.
So as I lay down I began to thank God for my son. I pictured his birth, remembering the doctors who delivered him and the visitors who came to the hospital room. I called to mind his baby-hood, his marine-style crawl and playfully scaling our golden retriever – whose name was his first word. I thought of his one-year birthday and then his two-year, and with each memory I thanked God for his life and who He is making this small person to be. Before I started this prayer exercise my perspective was focused on my son’s annoying behaviors of the morning – his entitled attitude, his unkindnesses to his little sisters. As I went through my thanksgiving prayer exercise, though, I rehearsed his abundant good qualities and the infinite blessing he is to me and our family. And, too, I thought about how God loves me… That even though I’m too intense and I talk too loud and have terrible posture and fail daily in my efforts to keep an orderly home (among numerous other failings), God overlooks all that and adores me. His love for me is excessive, forgiving, long-suffering, and doting. How could I love my son any differently from how God has so lavishly loved me?
And by the time I fell asleep my self-pity had abated and my right perspective was restored.
We have a healing God, a God who will pull us out of our destructive selves and give us His objectivity and perspective as we look to Him. But getting there requires effort on our part; in fact, it requires sacrifice. The Old Testament references “thank offerings” frequently, an offering the Israelites would make to God to demonstrate their gratitude for His mercies in their lives. They were actual, tangible sacrifices at the altar – an intentional act of thanks that cost them something. And I often think of that. So often we don’t feel thankful… We don’t, and our kids sure as heck don’t. Instead we feel wronged and self-absorbed. We frankly don’t want to lay down our petty grievances and self-pitying mindsets; we feel entitled to them. We are so quick to lose sight of the blessings and mercies the Lord has showered down on us so extravagantly.
But the Psalmist says, and may I learn to follow his lead every day of my life, especially as I mother:
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,
and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”