Psalm 73:26 — My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Sometimes life can really be confusing and hilarious at the same time. We want so much to be married and have a family. Yet, we are not quite accurate in our idea of how that would play out. Our imagination had things working so much better and everyone being loved and cared for and living “happily ever after.” Imagine my surprise and disappointment when things didn’t go quite like I had imagined! I was dreaming more of “Little House on the Prairie” or “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.” (I know this dates me!!) What I came to realize was my life felt more like “Mission Impossible.” Sometimes it seems that God has a sense of humor, yet in His omniscience He knew what I needed better than I. He knew I needed more, not less, because I was very good at doing things in my own power.
Too often my “perception” of the way things should be was so distorted that there was no way my husband or children could ever get it right. I was focused too much on what was going on externally in my home and missed the internal and eternal. My heart is a powerful tool and when my heart is in the wrong place, so is everything else. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable — who can understand it?” Whoa! That really makes me feel better. My heart is more deceitful than anything else!! And is incurable! If Scripture stopped there, I would be hopeless. John 3:16 is the perfect answer to our hopelessness. “For God so loved the world (me) that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever (anyone) believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus is our hope for eternity, but also our hope in this life with our families. Without Jesus we cannot love in a way that offers hope to our husbands, our children, and those around us. Left to ourselves our hearts are deceitful and incurable.
I want my perception to become like God’s perception. He has commanded us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” (Lev. 19:18, Matt. 22:36-40, Lk. 10:25-37, James 2:8) These are just a few verses that tell us to love our neighbor. Since God mentioned it so many times, I wonder if He wants us to pay attention and obey? He know us so well, and He knows that we need to be reminded over and over. He loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son. What am I willing to sacrifice in order to love my family well? I think as wives and mothers we often sacrifice our comfort for the sake of our families. We sacrifice our time, rest, and sadly, sometimes our health. The kind of sacrifice I am speaking of is a sacrifice of the heart. The kind that nailed Jesus to the cross. I can assure you I have never had to sacrifice my life unto death. It may feel like death sometimes, but I am still here!
So, how do I know if I am loving in the way that God wants me to? Check out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude. Love is not self-seeking, irritable and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love rejoices in the truth. It bears all things (“covers all things,” burdens of others), believes all things (those things that God says are true), hopes all things (hope in promises of God), endures all things (tribulations, temptations, and persecutions for the sake of Jesus Christ). And finally, love never ends. I have much work to do. I’ve blown it countless times on the very first one, patience!
Too many times my own agenda gets in the way of my loving others. I don’t want to be bothered because I am in the middle of something. I have a list a mile long of things I need to get done. I have given out emotionally and do not want to have to deal with family. I could go on and on. As I think on these things though, God did not call us to be so busy and to have lists so long that we are unable “to love others as we love ourselves.” God gave sacrificially and He wants us to do the same. The truth is, my list never gets shorter no matter how many hours I work on it. Every day more seems to get added to it. I have to choose which is more important. My list of things to do or the people that God has blessed me with to love and care for. For me it is a purposeful choice to love my husband, children, and grandchildren. Left to myself, too many times, I will choose my list because it is easier and doesn’t require my heart. Plus, I’ve never had my list argue with me!
To truly love and put others first is not easy. That is why I need God so desperately. In my own strength I cannot be the wife, mother or grandmother that God wants me to be. Without Him I get caught up in my own junk and it flows out onto everyone around me. Yuck! He is the One that changes my heart. He is the One that opens my heart to love others. He is the One that I want to please and serve. When I die, my list will still be here, and no one will care if I finished it or not. When I die, I want my family and those in my life to know they were loved unconditionally by me, and that they knew that love came from God alone and the amazing work He has done and continues to do in my heart.