“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.” ~Heraclitus
Our lives with small children are a flow of activity, responsibilities, and needs. Feed the children, clothe the children, teach them how to treat each other. Fix the house and clean things up, grocery shop and clean things up, school the big kids, clean things up, and get more dinner started. The river looks so similar from day to day. It can easily feel like nothing is changing. It can easily feel like you are drowning in the slow, deep waters.
Isn’t that a blessing? He is with us. He is with YOU! He is with your children.
His gifts are with you.
His Spirit is with you.
And this river? I suspect this river is what waters the fruit.
When the air is thick with July and the children are bickering with hot tempers aggravated by the heat, God is with you. When it feels like the only sure thing is the next bill in the mail, God is with you. When your toddler has sprawled out in a fit of anger on the floor for the third time in the last ten minutes, God is with you. The fruits of His Spirit are yours for the cultivation.
Do you remember your life pre-children? When you could spend all morning nose deep in a book in a corner of a coffee shop? How was your patience level? You had none! Patience exists only in places where patience is needed. Patience is the greatest indicator to me that the fruits of the Spirit are active, living, cultivated characteristics. Do you remember bed time last night? Or the trip to the grocery store this afternoon? How about the last time you attempted a fun family trip? Patience is made in times like these. Patience is made FOR times like these... but it is an active cultivation.
As unlikely as it seems, The peace that passeth understanding is not found in the happiness of your children. It is easy for us to believe that we would be more patient and peaceful if only other people would clean up their act a little. That just isn't the case. If the boys are fighting again and the toddlers are getting close to nap time, and everyone seems completely unaware of the blessings that surround them, I do not reach God's peace by helping the children with their moods. God's peace is not in their moods. God's peace simply IS. I reach it by perceiving it. I reach it by engaging with it. If God is omnipresent then His peace is omnipresent also. When I see and feel his peace, I act with patience. It is not that we cultivate patience, we cultivate connection with God and then the fruit of His Spirit is patience. If I am not perceiving his peace, I am walking about just as blindly and aimlessly as the cranky children around me. If I am perceiving His peace, they can not shake me.
The funny thing about light is that it doesn't change the things in the room. When you turn the lights on, the coffee table edges do not cease to be a tricky component of the furniture, they simply become less of a pinkie toe hazard. When you see the world through God's eyes - through the light of Jesus - the world is not different. What has changed is not the external, only the perception of the external.
When I am tired and the days are long, my boys fight and it drives me crazy. When I am rested and connected, I see two strong personalities developing their interpersonal skills. Both are extremely high in conscientiousness. When they feel a wrong has been committed, they feel duty and honor bound to address the situation. Why would I consider this a bad thing? When I have turned on the Light through prayer I see their growth and I am awed by it. I see the men they will become and I am proud to be a part of this moment in their development. When I am stumbling in the darkness, I add to the drama with my own maladaptive choices. In the darkness I am also a child and we all fall into the ditch together.
Blessings flourish in this life stage. Even if the river seems too slow and too deep, and you feel as if you can do no more than tread water, your blessings overflow!
Try this. The next time you find yourself at the park with your children, put down your phone and pray. Speak to Him as if He is your best friend and you finally have a moment together while the children are entertained. Ask Him what it is that is most keeping you from perceiving His presence in the midst of stress. Then, listen. Ask Him what it would look like for you to "cast out your net" the next time you feel the day has turned unproductive. Then listen and obey. Make a habit of reconnecting with God before redirecting your children and see how many more fish you catch.
Here is what I know about fruit trees:
Fruit trees do not bear the first year. Do not become discouraged when you struggle. You are still a sapling!
Fruit trees are planted and your Gardener placed you with care.
Fruit trees need water, nourishment and light. God is this source.
Today you will feel His presence. This year you will grow in His light.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid." John 14:27
I hope our journey inspires your own!!
Buckets & Berries