I must admit, I had quite the test of heart this week. God had to really refine some areas of me that I have been holding on to as my own! And it totally relates to my kids. I've always known they were my Achilles heel. I've heard others say, "I love God and I'll serve Him, but if He ever takes my kids away, that's a deal breaker!" I always thought that was a dangerous declaration. I mean, you're admitting to yourself and God what your idols are and that you are going to continue to place them before Him. God rarely takes mocking Him well, and He doesn't play second-fiddle in our hearts. So, I've always been blatantly honest with him, that I love my kids maybe just a little too much and have entreated Him to keep Him my first love always.
Recently, with the reality of church planting and moving, it's been getting very hard. Not so much to keep my kids from being my idols, but to keep from sheltering my kids from suffering for the Gospel. I am perfectly content to sacrifice for Jesus. Okay, that's not true at all. I'm not perfectly content most of the time. I kick against the goads every day. And every day, I picture Jesus sighing, rolling His eyes, and gently nudging me again. But I signed up for this. I counted the cost for me. I even long for it on many levels. I wanted the great adventure of following Jesus. And I sang the songs, "I don't want to be, I don't want to be a casual Christian. I don't want to live, I don't want to live a lukewarm life. I just to want light up the night, with your everlasting light. I don't' want live a casual Christian life." Maybe I sang them too much and Jesus took me seriously, cause here we go. And there are things I'm giving up that I'm not happy about. At all. Friendships. My house. My routines. But what has been bothering me is what my kids are about to give up. They haven't signed up for this yet. Judah has asked Jesus into his heart, but he's only five and how much does he truly understand. Gideon has mimicked Judah's plea, but he's three and I know he doesn't understand. But they're about to give up as much as me: friends, school, home, routine, family. And it hurts my heart a little to think of that.
So, this Monday morning, I walked Judah into school. He had a bit of a runny nose and right away a little girl in his class starts making fun of him: pointing it out, talking loudly about it, saying she was going to write in her journal about the slime in his nose, etc. I could tell Judah heard it and that it bothered him a bit. I asked him if he liked her saying that and he said no. I told him to go ask her to quit saying that. But it didn't just bother me a little. It bothered me a lot. I kind of went nuclear over it. Not in front of Judah, of course. But as I left, I started tearing up. As I drove home, I started crying. And by the time I walked in the front door, I was sobbing. I told my husband, between hiccuping sobs, "I'm not letting him go to that school anymore. Those kids are terrible. The girls are snarky and catty and hateful. They are mean to him and hurt his feelings." My husband knows better than to laugh (in front of me) when I go AWOL like that. He calmly talked me down from the ledge and then pointed out that, while hurtful a little to Judah, maybe I was reading some of my own emotional baggage from snotty girls in elementary school onto Judah. I acknowledged that wisdom, and, when sure I wasn't going to blow anything up, my husband left for work.
That left me with God to think through what was going on. As I calmed down and began to pray about it, God was pretty rough with me. He pointed out to my heart that I was willing to suffer for Christ, and that I knew that the Gospel had to rule my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. But I didn't seem to think that same thing applied to my kids. My automatic response was to defend Judah instead of teaching Judah to love openly even snarky little girls. Instead of worrying that she had hurt his self-esteem somehow, my response should have been complete confidence that Judah's life is hidden in Christ and he has no need to fear little jabs. I need to be shoring him up in Jesus every day, preparing him that the world is hateful, not because they don't want to love, but because they don't know they are loved. I need to teach him to see past the hurting to the hurt one. I need to prepare him to respond in love instead of in kind. I was shocked to see that I expected one thing of myself and a totally different standard for my boys. I had to really repent of that.
By the time I picked Judah up from school, I was ready to talk about what had happened and give him some Gospel coping methods for next time. "We love people even when they are mean to us because Jesus loves us even when we are mean to Him." Judah got it. He just said, "Yep, Momma!" It was Momma that needed to realize that the same Gospel that saves and sanctifies me, saves and sanctifies Judah and saves and sanctifies snarky little girls!