When my older kids were young, in the demanding and sleep depriving stages of toddler and baby, I would often tell myself “when they get older this will be so much easier”. As they have grown it has gotten easier in some areas, in others it has gotten much harder. The attention that they demand from me is not as much physical, being up in the middle of the night or changing diapers or endlessly wiping runny noses, but the effort that they need from me now is more mental. I now am responsible for coaching them on the difficult times in life that I sometimes have yet to figure out myself. I am needed to listen, to be empathetic, give advice, sooth ruffled feathers, calm fears, encourage, or pick the up the pieces of a broken heart. No longer is the crisis over someone getting their toys taken away or needing a snack or a band-aid. Now the stakes are much higher.
I have also noticed that when my children were younger they were always pursuing me. This was part of why I was so exhausted physically. There was always someone at my feet or in my lap, someone needing to be carried or held or fed. As they grow older though, I have realized that I must often be the one to pursue them. They have become stubborn and determined to do things their way. I cannot afford to turn my attention from the things in them that need to be corrected. I must prevent them from building walls around their hearts, or growing bitter and unforgiving. I have to seek them out in order to do this.
As mentally exhausted as this makes me, it also makes me appreciate that God is always pursuing me. He is ever-aware of all the areas in which I need a listening ear, or comfort, or correction, or guidance. He is patient with me and doesn’t force my trust, but gently seeks me out to correct me and leads me in his way to show me how much he loves me. He gladly invests his time and his energy in me. Much unlike the shameful times when I lose my temper at the demand of my motherly presence! I am so thankful that the God, whose power created the universe, has limit-less energy to take care of my day to day needs. He never grows tired of listening to me and he is patient with me even in the middle of the night.
With the different ages of my children, I am pulled in both directions of exhaustion. Not only do I have two that require my mental focus, but I am still the mother to two children that demand my physical attention. I am still looking forward to those days when it gets easier…at least physically. Knowing what is down the road though, I have learned to treasure these young days of my children, when they readily come to me and just enjoy being near me, when a hug makes it all better, where they are content with me just holding them on my lap, when mommy’s arms makes the world feel safe. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3. When we refuse to admit our weaknesses and need for God and demand to do it our way, we are setting ourselves up for a great fall, but if we come to him trusting in what he provides and are content to rest in his strength we are greatly rewarded.