It’s one of those mornings where I open up Ann Voskamps blog page just to have the soothing music accompanying her sight be the background to which my day’s tone is set. Something about it realign’s my heart and soul. Something about it makes me breathe deep and breathe God and exhale all the worries and cares of the day and remember that there is rest for a weary soul, a tired traveler, a mama who is getting all mixed up in the actions and forgetting for her own life the words she speaks to her children day after day.
We don’t live for the approval of those around us, children. We seek only the approval of One.
We don’t strive as those looking to win attention or gain a certain standing before men, but rather we strive unto the glory of God.
We don’t perform so that eyes can look at us in awe, we don’t say words to attract an audience, we do all things as for the Lord alone.
These things I speak often. These things I forget, oh so often.
It’s no wonder that we feel a bit defeated after a pouring out of ourselves if we’re seeking the approval of man. Seeking his accolades. His thankfulness for our very being. It’s no wonder we wind up feeling unappreciated, unloved even. Because this, this is not where our end results lie.
There was a moment of low at the end of our weekend. It came mid-Sunday but I chin upped it in the presence of company and made jokes and smiled and laughed about ‘children’ because it was the band-aid covering up the reality of the wound.
The simple question came as we all gathered in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon like we often do. Salad was being dressed and big yellow pots were pulled out of the oven as our guests arrived and it was an honest question directed to one of my children. “What did you get for your birthday?”
His answer deflated me. “I forget.”
You forget? You forget?
So what you’re saying is that the time we spent searching online for just the right one and the little bit of extra money we put out this year in order to make it something really special for you was forgotten within a week? The time spent running around from place to place picking up that box of sugar cereal you get just once a year and the book that you said you wanted so long ago and now you get to pour your nose into as you snuggle up by the fire, forgotten? The paper that I picked to wrap it in, debating over what teenage boys really want more, simple stripes or something funny that might get a laugh, not even remembered. The clues I made for you with paper and pencil crayon to up the suspense a little? The twine I tied it all up with to make it look like scrolls? The cheesecake that we all made just for you? The words written in the card that I pondered and prayed over and really wanted to impact you? Forgotten?
It shouldn’t have wounded me like it did because he’s a child and children forget and I know he didn’t mean to and when he took some time to just think it all came out but in that moment the words he spoke broke a piece of me.
How quickly human words can hurt us when it’s what we’re seeking. How much a simple phrase can fragment us and send us into a spiral of self-pity and anger and why do I bothers, when we’re so badly wanting approval and accolades.
I awoke in the night still ticked. Heart pounding and mind reeling at his thoughtlessness. His lack of appreciation. Have we not taught him better than this?
Conviction, when it comes deep in the dark of the night when you’re all alone wrestling with your own heart and thoughts and flesh comes like a dagger. It’s quick and it’s painful and suddenly we see, as though illuminated in broad daylight, the truth of that dark place in our hearts.
You are just like him.
The words come and they startle me because, no I’m not. I’m very thankful. We even have a list of things we’re thankful for on the wall.
You are just like him.
The words cut because they’re truth and truth never feels comfortable when it’s battling lies. Especially when we’ve so deceived ourselves with the lies.
You are just like him.
Somehow when we see our sin played out in our own children it humbles like nothing else. So quick to point the finger at his ungratefulness I am that I can’t even see my own.
So quick to lash out at him later in the evening at how I feel so unappreciated, how I hardly let him get a word in edgewise, and idle threats about next years birthday and what’s the points and my heart so full of self-righteousness that I can’t even hear the sin in my words coming out.
But it came under the safety of covers, thank the Lord, when the tears could sting my eyes and I could cry out for forgiveness to the one who I fail to appreciate a million times daily. The one worthy of so much more of my thoughts and my attention and my gratefulness and gratitude. The one who has given me so much more than a birthday gift wrapped up just so but the one who has given me life and yet I forget.
Like a child I march by wondering why life is so hard and when someone asks how my day was I might grumble about the rain or the work or the ungratefulness of a child, meanwhile I’m the ungrateful one, forgetting my Saviour and what He’s done for me daily.
Because my sons forgetfulness wouldn’t have hurt so much if I wasn’t so set on seeking his approval. If I wasn’t so caught up in wanting him to see how much time and effort I’ve put in. If I wasn’t so arrogant to think he’d be fawning all over us and gushing because of the extra we put out for him.
Can you imagine if Christ on the cross was crying out, “Look at me! Look at me here! This is real blood that is coming out of my wounds. Get down on your knees right now and be grateful for it! Tell me how wonderful I am for doing this for you! Acknowledge this. This that I’ve done for you!”
But instead the one who gave his very life did it humbly.
I can’t even wrap a gift without wanting the glory.
We sang words earlier that morning, words that said every hour I need you. I contend it’s every second. Because every second I fall. Every second I forget. Every second I seek the praise of my children. Every second I pick up pride instead of humility. Every second I want the glory instead of the position of a servant. Every second I want what I feel is owed me above laying aside my desires.
I need you, oh I need you. Every hour, every second, of every day, I need you.