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Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mother's Piety

In the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you that what you are about to read isn't my normal attitude.  But it is, for real, one I had today.  It is all well and good to write when I have nice things to say.  When my words will challenge, convict and inspire.  The words I wrote in frustration today I will put below so you can enjoy my full-blown honesty.  This may give you a glimpse into my 'not-so-rosy' days.  It may discourage you.  I don't know.  Take it or leave it.

So I had arranged all the kids to be doing something that might keep them occupied (and it didn't work).  I decided I needed to catch up some on my reading through the Bible AGENDA.  Yeah, I put 'agenda' in CAPS because that's all it seems to be - some lofty goal and virtuous aspiration.  Bible reading can't hurt, I muse.  So why not?  Maybe this could help my soul.  Maybe I will change.  Maybe I will become more...inspiring?  Gracious?  Kind?  Patient?  Like Jesus?  I don't know.  Stranger things have happened.  So here I go...

I pick up the Bible.  I am in Mark.  I get to the end of chapter 2.  It is about them picking grains when that was a no-no on the Sabbath.  'Tut tut' said the Pharisees.  Jesus retorts: "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."  In other words, "Lay off - you guys don't have a clue."  So I'm all like - yeah, He's right on that one.

At that moment squabbles erupt from the dining room where Timo has taken it upon himself to sweep and mop and arrange the chairs in the living room to make his job easier.  Andrew wants to cross but is penned in.  I tell them to quit it.  I'm reading my Bible after all.  I don't want to be bothered with such lowly squabbles.  My virtue is put to the test.

They don't quit it.  I get frustrated.  Surely, this is not what God intends for my pious Bible reading time.

I start fuming.  I have a noble goal.  A good goal.  A 'I'll-be-a-better-person-for-doing-this' goal.  I will understand God better.  I will be softer, gentler, more peaceful, calmer.  And all that good stuff.

But it isn't working.  The AGENDA starts to irritate me.

I quickly pray, "Oh God, isn't this what you want for me?!  To read and take in Your Word and not gripe at my kids?!"  I don't hear an audible answer but somehow I sense that this isn't His place for me.  Not here, not now - I am needed as a Mother - not a Bible-toting-aggravated-pious-grump who can't handle a squabble or two.

Somehow I realize that His calling a this very moment is to be a MOTHER.  Not a pious meditator by the fire-place.

I quickly scribble my nasty thoughts and they go as follows:
"Forget Bible reading!  It's useless.  I just read regarding rules and here I try following some 'rule' and it ruins my day and attitude.  Kids don't co-operate.  Hannah needs a change.  My calling isn't to sit reading Scripture while I lose it with the kids.  My attitude and temper are the WORSE for sitting here, not better.  All this piety and holy Bible reading is going to drive me nuts.  If God wants me to read the Bible He needs to make it clear and possible.  This just isn't working.  I am more crabby and temperamental... Agendas, schedules, and plans CAN help.  But right now they're just DUMB.  I'm so done with this.  Fed up.  Angry, even.  Pious Bible reading doesn't work for me.  Sure, I picked the wrong time and place.  Sure, my kids aren't well prepared.  Whatever.  Criticize if that's what you want.  [Who was I writing this to?!?!]  I'm not a legalist, nor will I be.  God doesn't want me to aim at Bible reading if it includes agitation and losing my temper.  'Nuff said."

Okay, so I wrote that in frustration.  And in a calmer frame of mind, yes I can see the error of my ways and thoughts.  But I'll put it out there for all to see - because I know I must not be alone in this...am I?  Because if I am, oops.

I hope I'm not alone.  I know I don't do it all right - don't plan enough for this stuff.  But when the virtues of Bible reading are touted right, left and center - it can come back to bite you.  'Cuz it did me today.

And I'm done in.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, at the beginning of every New Year we are bombarded, I mean presented with multiple times multiple Bible reading plans. And I say to myself, well, this one seems doable, or that one seems logical, or the other one seems sanctifying. This year I picked something really, really, really easy. And I've already "failed." And at no point did it taste like honey. My pen didn't flow over my journal pages with profound insight. Sometimes just a note of the reference. So I'm with you on this one.
    How about one verse or short passage on a notecard over the sink, on the bathroom mirror, written on your palm, wherever -- to meditate on day and night while you're being a mommy. You can choose it the night before. You could even do a version of what Ann VosKamp is doing this year: 12, 24, 48, 72 (multiples of 12) verses from John, written up "pretty" on single pages, to memorize. You've probably memorized all the verses she has chosen, but they are good for mediation about who Jesus is. Or you could choose something else -- a Psalm, a chapter or two from one of the epistles, -- and after the kids are down, write out your postcards for the next day or even create your own beautiful little posters of one verse at a time. She got her inspiration from the illustrated manuscripts, thinking about how those monks were focusing on the beauty of Jesus and just had to make His word beautiful. Her theme this year is seeing the beauty of Jesus in the book of John. She's doing this as "Scripture Memory for the Rest of Us" -- meaning those who couldn't manage her previous yearly projects: Colossians 1-4; Matthew 5-7; Romans 1-12. (I remember the Logan family memorizing Romans 12.) And part of the point was to get away from the performance perspective (memorizing massive quantities) and on to the beauty of Jesus perspective. And this is what you're talking about. If reading the Bible not only fails to make us love God more but makes us love our family less, what's the point?

    I think you are in a stage where it might be more beneficial to meditate on one verse all day, letting it sink deep into your soul, than to to jump through hoops of "through the Bible..." reading that produces a shrieking shrew. (I'm sure this reminds you of my throwing God's Holy Word into the lilac bushes. Well, I just got a picture of a shrieking woman yanking at her disheveled red hair, then tripping over her voluminous skirts as she jumps through hula hoops, two hands clawing at air in five different directions.)

    You've got forty years after the kids are grown to do the marathons. (Wait, I'm in that forty year period. What's my problem? OK, never mind. Whenever whatever constitutes retirement arrives, then I'll start my rocking chair, Bible in lap marathon. Maybe.)

    Love your honesty. Love you.

    Suzanne

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