I've been reading through the book Keep A Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot for the past couple of weeks (I highly recommend it if you are looking for godly encouragement and refreshment with a healthy dose of conviction thrown in). There are many, many wonderful things in this book, many things that have stuck with me and been incredibly applicable to my life, but this is one passage that is most definitely going up on my refrigerator as a daily reminder:
"Wouldn't it make an astounding difference, not only in the quality of the work we do (in office, schoolroom, factory, kitchen, or backyard), but also in our satisfaction, even our joy, if we recognized God's gracious gift in every single task, from making a bed or bathing a baby to drawing a blueprint or selling a computer? If our children saw us doing 'heartily as unto the Lord' all the work we do, they would learn true happiness. Instead of feeling that they must be allowed to do what they like, they would learn to like what they do."
I love this for two main reasons. First, it made me realize that my attitude about work quite often stinks. I can't tell you how frequently I feel like my duties, whether they are changing a dirty diaper or scrubbing a toilet, are something that gets in the way of my doing things I enjoy, instead of me seeing them as a part of my calling. I need to work to find the true joy in ALL that I do-- not just the fun things like decorating and playing with the kids. Work is work, and always will be; but, it is a gift from God to give us purpose and opportunities to glorify Him, and therein lies the joy.
Second, this got me thinking about molding. No, no, not the kind of molding that goes on in the bread box after about two weeks or that which happens to the neglected hunk of cheese in the fridge. "Molding"-- as it applies to our children. It really hit me when I read those last couple of sentences about how our attitude towards work affects our little ones: we are not just raising our kids-- giving them all that they need to survive, loving them, and waiting for them to go out on their own. We are molding them, shaping them! And this is true whether we do it intentionally or not. Every little thing that we do or say, our attitude towards all that life holds, the way they see us act and react; it is all helping to shape their little minds and hearts into what they will become as they grow. My husband and I are learning a lot as parents each day. I think when we were first parents, we were just trying to get through each day with all its responsibility and adjustment. We've made a lot of mistakes, and still have MUCH to learn, but God is gracious and always gives us another chance, and He has so far prevented us from doing anything that is irreparable. More and more though, it is coming home to me: oh, how I want the molding of our children to be deliberate, intentional, prayerful, and carefully thought out in the light of Scripture. I don't want to just "coast" through each day, doing only the mommy things of giving baths, changing pants, making meals, telling stories, kissing owies. These are all a wonderful part of motherhood, but there is so much more that is required of me in the raising -- the molding-- of my little ones. God has given my husband and me these precious gifts just for that purpose; that we might actively shape them, mold them, teach them, all to God's glory and so that they might be fit to serve Him in His kingdom. And you know what? It starts with the little things while they are young. So today, I pray anew that God will give me a spirit of cheerfulness, no matter how many diapers I must change or whether Emma pees all over the bathroom floor. And I pray my girls will be able to see that cheerfulness and, by God's grace, be molded a tiny bit more into the women I want them to be.