First Corinthians 13 for Mothers

My kids, all grown up (from left) David, Todd, Shelley (a cousin who grew up with them), and Jaime (June 23, 2018)

Though I may speak the jargon of professors, doctors, and ministers, if I can’t speak so that my own children understand me, then all I do is make educated noise.

Even if I was known as a scholar or a person with mountain-moving faith, unless my children could truly say, “Mommy loves me!”, then I am nothing.

And although I save Campbell’s labels for missions, distribute food boxes to the needy, make a dish for a funeral dinner, give used clothing to the local homeless shelter; even though I carry a signed organ donor card, if I don’t lovingly look to the needs of my own children, all other good works will profit me nothing.

I need to be patient with their immature thinking, stupid mistakes, and know-it-all attitudes; and show kindness in the face of whining, arguing, and pouting. I need to love them as they are, not as I expect them to be. I cannot envy the parent whose child is a better scholar, musician, or athlete than I perceive my child to be. Yet neither should I vaunt my own child’s successes, for to do so would put the burden of proof on my child, who will strive to live up to my sometimes unrealistic expectations, and perhaps never feel good enough.

I should not be rude to my children, even in my own home, where I long to let my hair down, not snap at them when I’m feeling tired or pressured. I need to give them the same respect I give others and be considerate of their feelings, their privacy, their possessions, and even (shudder) their rooms!

I should not keep a tally of my children’s wrongs, and then triumphantly flourish it at a time when it’s convenient for me. To gently show them when and why they are wrong is more effective than harsh punishment that doesn’t fit the crime and serves only to crush their spirits. Insisting my way is the only way will stiffen their resistance, but teaching them right from wrong by example and praying for discernment may someday lead to rejoicing when my children follow the truth.

With God’s help I will never give up believing in them, knowing that He who created them has a wonderful plan for their lives and will complete what He started. Even when they respond to the pull of the world, I will rest on the promise that God’s Word never returns void. They cannot stray so far that my love and prayers cannot follow.

Genuine love outlasts parental sermons that they quickly forget. Even if I could understand insurance policies and all the legalese in which they are written, what good would it do my children if I had no love for them?

I must remember that I, too, was once a child. What wisdom and knowledge I have now were acquired with painful experience.

I must remember that God alone knows their hearts. I see only the outward appearance and assume way too much. Someday God’s plan for each of their lives will unfold like a beautiful flower, and I will understand the trials that seem so hard to get through now.

Faith, hope, and love are the foundation blocks upon which I build my relationship with my children. But the strongest, most enduring block of all is love.

MORE TEA: Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey.

Support System

Mackinac Bridge, Michigan; Photo by W.D. Huey

So encourage each other and build each other up. –1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. –Ephesians 6:18 MSG

Wednesday morning found me plopped in my cozy chair for my quiet time. But I was too worn and weary to focus on praying or reading my devotional materials. The weekend had been busy, but a good busy. I’d spoken at a ladies luncheon Saturday, conducted the worship service at the church where I’m the lay pastor and delivered the sermon on Sunday, and officiated a funeral on Monday. I’d come home after the funeral and took a three-hour nap, which left no time for any other work.

Tuesday I did the usual “miscellaneous Monday” items on my schedule, which took up the entire day. By Wednesday I was, as my grandmother used to say, “all pooped up.”

How on earth was I going to complete four devotionals for a quarterly magazine due that day? I hadn’t a clue what to write. I’d read the assigned Scriptures and studied the commentary notes, but nothing jumped out at me.

“These are the worst Scriptures they’ve ever given me,” I complained to my husband.

I was also dealing with the post-speaking spiritual warfare I usually encounter after speaking engagements.

Add to that lower back and hip pain that had progressively gotten worse over the winter. I’d hoped the arrival of warmer, dryer weather would alleviate the constant ache, but it only worsened. It didn’t matter what I did—stretches, short walks, water aerobics, alternating sitting and standing—I was hobbling and hurting all day long. OTC pain relievers help some, but I have to watch what I take so it doesn’t interfere with my blood pressure medicine.

Growing old ain’t fun.

So there I sat with a heating pad on my back, without the slightest inkling of motivation.

But … it was Wednesday, the weekly prayer day for the Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference planning team, of which I’m a member. We’ve gotten close over the 10 years we’ve worked together and now support each other in prayer. Every Wednesday we email our prayer needs to each other.

So I emailed my precious sisters-in-Christ: “Sorry for bothering you so much. This is the time the adversary attacks most viciously—after speaking engagements and sermons, and I delivered three over the weekend. Too weary to fight the battle or even put on my armor.”

To which Margaret replied: “That’s okay. We will cover you with our prayers. Now just rest assured that you are loved, and the ONE who loves you never gets tired.”

Thursday morning I emailed them:

“Your prayers made all the difference yesterday. In the morning I was weary and worn, wondering how I would meet my deadline. I wanted to stay plopped in my cozy chair all day. I had no idea what I was going write on the assigned Scriptures. I faced the day drained mentally, physically, and emotionally.

“This morning I re-read what I emailed you. ‘Was that only yesterday?’ I thought.

“Not only did I meet my deadline of four devotionals (and was amazed at how they came together!), but I took a short walk around the garden after lunch and made a pastoral visit to the hospital in the evening. Where did the energy come from? Your prayers!”

And now that I think of it, my back didn’t bother me at all Wednesday night.

Just like a bridge needs a support system for it to hold up and do what it was designed to do, so do we.

How about you? Do you have a support system?

Thank you, Lord, for those who help us over, under, around, and through each day with their faithful prayers. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ecclesiastes 4:9–12.