Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Mother Letter

Dear Mother:

The job of a mother is usually thankless.

This is often a point of great turmoil for me - I have always yearned to be appreciated for what I've done in a day. When my oldest was a baby, I maintained a count of the diapers I changed in a day. Not to keep track of whether or not my baby was healthy. No, it was so that I could feel like I accomplished something in a day. Actually, not even that, it was my attempt to get some appreciation for my efforts. Imagine my disappointment when my husband's response to my current diaper tallies was less than enthusiastic.

After a while, the disappointment gave way to laziness. If my husband wouldn't praise my efforts, why should I put them in? Sure, I still changed the baby (by that time, babies), but I didn't bother cleaning the house, and rarely bothered cooking. It just didn't feel worthwhile when no one cared. (I didn't recognize these as symptoms of postpartum blues... but that's a different letter).

Eventually, the words of Jesus and the words of my pastor began to speak to me.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Luke 12:6-7 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Psalm 139: 17-18 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

If God watches over the sparrows, and has the number of hairs on my head numbered. If His thoughts toward me outnumber the grains of sand, then it follows that he sees me wipe that snotty nose for the three thousandth time. He also sees my attitude as I sweep up all the spilled food under the table after each meal. He knows how many diapers I've changed. (Can you tell I have toddlers?!) And He knows how many times I'll run my kids to this place or that when they get older.

But not only does God see these things. He takes note of them.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:17-18 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

This is such a comfort to me. Those thing that I do -- from changing diapers, to laundry, aren't invisible to God. Not only that, but He promises to reward them. When I spend all day picking up the house, only to have it messed up again in ten minutes, God sees.

Because God sees, I can forgive rather than throw a fit at the insensitivities of my husband and kids. His watchful eyes free me to wash dishes in thankfulness for our abundance rather than grumble at the mess. They motivate me to work for approval and reward from God, not my family.

Matthew 6:1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
Matthe 6:5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."
Matthew 6:15 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

When my motivation to do a task is the praise that I get from my husband, then his enthusiasm (or lack thereof) is the whole reward I get. I miss out on the reward from God that I could earn by doing things secretly, for His eyes only. How much better and more rewarding it is to just remind myself "God Sees", and let Him have it. He notices and rewards me for the things that no one else notices or cares about -- the things done in secret. Take it from me. Knowing that God saw me change those diapers, appreciates me taking care of those babies, and rewards me both now and in the future feels way better than better than my husband's obligatory grunt acknowledging my 14 diapers-so-far-today count.

May you reap the satisfaction of filling your days, weeks, and years building up those rewards from God.

In Christ,
Amy Davis

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