We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves. — Romans 15:1
Being a parent can feel overwhelming, especially for those who have several small children to attend to. Sometimes it gets discouraging, as we deal with one need after another without much of a break to regain our personal tranquility.
I remember the discouragement I felt several months after having our second child. Recovering from a C-section this time around had not been nearly as easy as it had been with the first child, almost twelve years before. Furthermore, the doctors told me I had gone into this pregnancy not yet fully recovered from the chemo and radiation I had completed just five months previously. To top it off, our beloved miracle baby, my promise of a restored life from our Father in heaven, suffered stomach issues and cried incessantly.
In the midst of all my fatigue, I indulged in a small pity party, with me the only guest. Why could I not have a little peace and quiet? Why all the jumping up every few minutes to meet another demand? Why couldn’t I have a tiny bit more time for uninterrupted thoughts without another colic bout intruding? (You may snort your disdain, because I had only one small one to deal with, but the struggle was still real!)
The Lord quickly recalled to my mind an article I had once read in a homeschool magazine. The author had told of her own time of feeling overwhelmed by small children, and how the Holy Spirit had quickened to her heart Romans 15:1: “We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves.” God had applied the verse to her parenting, encouraging her to serve her children, to bear with their neediness for so much help, and to set her wants for time to herself aside.
The Lord used that verse to bring me out of my own case of the blues, and to give me a new joy in serving both my children. I mulled it over often in the ensuing days: I can bear the frailties of my little girl. Jesus calls me to not please myself, but to do this for Him, and to do it with joy. From that point on, I really did find new joy and strength in serving her.
I remembered another story I had heard, of a mom who pictured herself as serving the Christ Child every time she dressed or fed her small children. It helped her to overcome impatience and to lavish love upon them. I took that story to heart and started applying it, too.
Our self-serving society constantly barrages us with the message that we’re supposed to indulge ourselves. We are told that the good life is all about us having our needs met, our desires gratified. In particular, women have been brainwashed into thinking that children are a hindrance to our fulfillment, so the sooner we get them out of our hair, the sooner we can accomplish “important” things. Meanwhile, we miss realizing that the little people we have been given to serve on a moment-by-moment basis are the genuinely important things.
Those of us who follow Jesus must continually push back against these selfish ideals. Intellectually, we know from the Bible that we are called to serve one another, to put others ahead of ourselves. That knowledge doesn’t make it easy, however. Perhaps one of the best, and yet often hardest, training grounds for learning to be a servant is within our own families. Jesus calls us to die to self. Paul even said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). It’s not a popular or frequently heard message in the Church today, but it is as valid as it ever was.
Jesus uses serving our family to build our character. For those of you who find caring for your children a great joy without much of a struggle, what a blessing! It is a special grace, which may be due to your God-given temperament or His unique plans for you. The Lord will find other means to build your character. But for those of us who are more challenged in this area, He uses it to mold us into the likeness of Himself.
… In lowliness of mind, let each of us esteem others as better than ourselves. Do not look every one on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 2:3-5
Do it for Him, bear it for Him. He will receive your servant parenting as if you had ministered directly to Him. It is a fragrant offering.