Bitterness and Beattitudes

These past weeks have been a period of great angst, but greater still reflection for me. Nearly three weeks ago, I watched my children say goodbye to one set of their grandparents, yet again, and my heart broke.

What was once an adventure for a young bride and groom, scuttling off to California to work his way through a venture in theology, has become so much more over the course of these most recent six years. The two are now five, and the new three may just not understand why we are so far from their papas, Mimi and Nonna.

As I stood, tears streaming down my face I allowed the hurt to transform to just one little seed. Though seeds mostly bring new life, this one is destined to choke out all that is good and lovely if it is not dealt with.

Nine years ago, days before packing up a truck and loading our little car to the brim, full of new appliances, linens, dishes and promise, a lovely lady said to me “Lindsey, do not let the seed of bitterness take root. May your spirit always remain sweet.”

Frustration mounts.

Yelling ensues.

Seed burrows.

I water it with my tears.

And then I pick up a book and I am struck with the realization that this bitterness has no place in a heart — in my heart, my life. A life I gave to God nearly three decades ago. A heart I yield to his leading at the commencement of each day. For one whose God has over the years shown nothing but goodness and kindness, albeit sometimes draped in mortal confusion, bitterness has no place here.

And what of it?

If I allow it to nestle itself in the fertile soil of my heart, what do the children who I righteously take it on for get out of life, out of me?

We were never told that our earthly life would be free from disappointment; it is what we do with our daily dose that matters.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God.”

(Matthew 5:3-9 HCSB)

And I’m poor and yet blessed
Mourning and yet at peace in the palm of His hands
Longing for gentleness to spill from my lips
Ever hungry
And I reach to become filled more with mercy
I push the bitterness aside, for purity
Praying His peace would fill our home and that it would begin in me.

In the midst of the dailies, the striving and the curse of Adam and Eve that is upon us, I focus on the promise through the lens of thanks.

11. the saints proclaiming His praises
12. serving cupcakes on the porch to my kids and their friends
13. naked baby soaking my pants as he listens to the bathtub fill
14. setting the coffee pot for morning
15. the promise of English muffins with peanut butter
16. the house that remains clean for all of five minutes, because I am blessed to have four precious lives that live with me
17. a flower bed overfilled with sprouts because the kids helped us plant
18. tall, nonfat, haf-caf, extra-hot, upside down caramel machiatos on Tuesday morning and the barista who enjoys my superfluous use of adjectives while ordering
19. friends to sip coffee with
20. parents who raised me to know Jesus
21. living close enough to one sister to occasionally meet for lunch
22. a God who helps me see and acknowledge bitterness before it becomes so ingrained in my heart that I struggle to rid myself of it
23. a community of friends I may never meet who are also giving thanks

It’s about more than creme brulee …

We’ve had an amazing weekend, from a mother’s tea with Lucas and his kindergarten class, to a dual birthday celebration for my boys at Disneyland (complete with Nonna and Papa Price), to seeing my exuberant kids running to and away from the waves of the Pacific and seeing Nicholas feel sand, eat sand, and dip his tiny toes in the frigid water, to shopping for Nick’s birthday and mother’s day, ending with my favorite blackberry sauvignon gelato before I head to bed.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I am so excited to share the day with my little gifts and to see their smiles as they reveal the treasures they’ve made for me. As I sit in anticipation, my eyes tear with gratefulness for the precious lives that are entrusted to me and sting with guilty realization that I am not the mother I want for them.

Every once in a while, when I am least expecting it, out of the deepest, darkest depths of my humanity I see the ugliness of my mortality emerge. Sometimes with great embarrassment, I stifle that which I wish I wasn’t. Other times, like tonight, I give way to the self righteousness, feeling wholly justified in the action, but rather than peaceful satisfaction, I see the ugliness from outside of myself and realize, I am not the person I would choose to raise these children.

I am inept.

I am hateful.

I am inadequate.

… and yet, I am forgiven.

I am equipped.

I am chosen.

Wholly incapable am I on my own, but with deep thanks I rejoice in knowing that “His strength is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I admit that after a year of being a stay at home mom, and completing my daily tasks at the height of exhaustion, never being able to check everything off a “to-do” list, and getting no high-fives for a job well done, I have been able to think of many things I would like tomorrow to be. I’ve thought of shoes I want, dresses to wear, pedicures to receive, a day of rest, children sleeping through the night … creme brulee.

I have considered myself deserving of being celebrated in a way I never have before, and yet when it comes right down to it, what tomorrow will mean for me is exactly what motherhood is.

Tomorrow, I will teach my children how to love and accept and to welcome with the love of Jesus.

Tomorrow, I will lay down my pride.

Tomorrow, I will show grace to my children when they make mistakes …
to those who have not yet grappled with Christ’s grace to them …
for myself as I grow in accepting that I will never get it exactly right.

Tomorrow, I will take another stride toward gentleness …

Tomorrow, I will rest in the knowledge that I am a work in progress and though I cannot do everything on my own, I am being led in raising these gifts by the one who loves me too much to not be the strength that I don’t have on my own.

Tomorrow, I won’t celebrate myself, but I will celebrate the precious privilege I have been given in being mom to Lucas Emanuel, our little light bearer who reminds me that I serve a God that comes near to me in my imperfection, Bethany Jordan who helps me remember that I have a safe place to hide when the world is too much to bear, and Nicholas Judah who is evidence of a God who knows my heart and brings victory to his children and accepts my praise, even when it seems a sacrifice of a broken heart.

To me, mother’s day is no longer about my daily sacrifices on the journey, but rather about celebrating the three lives and one angel baby that bespeak my name as mother, and how the Lord uses them to draw me closer to his heart.