“Mama, will you study the Bible with me?”
It was Sunday night and my daughter dropped this mama-guilt bomb on me.
All I really wanted to do this weekend was read a novel.
Susan May Warren’s newest book released last week. On Monday morning I snapped open my Kindle to check the weather before jumping in the shower and there it was. Surprise! I had pre-ordered it weeks ago, but forgotten about it until it smiled at me that morning: beautiful with a nostalic autumnal image and the promise of an irresistible story. Hmm, but resist it I did.
A number of items filled my week: two editing projects, a handful of writing deadlines and school requirements. I was so good all week. I didn’t even tap the cover once.
Saturday morning dawned with hope and no firm obligations. I reveled in my imagined expanse of time … for about seven minutes until the kids joined me in bed. Before long, the morning filled with chores: laundry, breakfast, vacuuming, dusting, and an overdue closet purge. We went out to eat (NOT at the mall!), spent an afternoon at the park playing baseball, football and soccer…
Sunday morning slowly birthed second chances for my weekend hopes. Those hopes waited quietly for their tun as I made breakfast, bathed the kids, went to church and … then more forced family fun. We drove to our favorite orchard in New York. It proved a gorgeous drive on a delightfully crisp day. We came home and the kids played while I finished the closet project then cooked dinner. We ate, cleaned up and finally — Finally! — I nestled onto the loveseat with my Kindle and a coffee, determined to spoil myself with fiction. then enjoyed pizza and Family Movie Night. It was a great day! Just not what I had envisioned for myself.
It was then that Ellie — my sweet, sweet Ellie — flashed those gorgeous blue orbs my way and asked me to help her study the Bible.
“NO! I don’t want to!” That’s what I really wanted to say.
I felt like I had given myself all weekend and I just wanted to be selfish for just a little while. But how could I knowingly withhold from my daughter what I freely give to strangers?
Now, I’m not saying that parents should concede to every tenderhearted request from their children. We absolutely need boundaries! We need time to ourselves to refresh, grow, expand and remember who we are — apart from our children. And kids need us to take that time so that we can be healthy parents and they can learn that the world does not revolve around them.
My point is not about boundaries or “me-time”, but rather about leftovers.
I don’t want to save my worst for home or my family for last.
Much of my time and energy goes into writing Bible studies and teaching others about God and His Word. I pray for my students and my studies. I fret over how I treat them and how my actions might be perceived by those around me. Am I drawing them toward God? Or placing a stumbling block between them and Him?
I worry about these things for friends and strangers. But what about my family?
As Ellie awaited my response, I prayed. I know what I give to those who don’t live in my house. They see all the best, most polished parts of me. My kids and my husband, however, too often fall victim to my moods, to my exhaustion. They get the crumbs of my offerings.
I begrudgingly closed my Kindle. Choosing, at least with my head and hands, to do the right thing, confident my heart would catch up.
“You can act your way to a new set of feelings faster than you can feel your way
to a new set of actions.”
— Jim Henderson
It did catch up. A couple hours later as I tucked my little scholar into bed, I couldn’t stop praising God for who she is becoming. How many eight-year-olds beg to spend their Sunday nights with their moms reading the Old Testament, diving into ancient maps and studying Hebrew letters? She’s the only one I know.
And I am oh-so grateful that, in spite of my selfish unmet hopes, I get to be her mom. I get to live out the Great Commission right here in my own home each and every day.
Your Turn: What deliberate steps do you take to foster a love of God in your home? How do you keep from offering only crumbs of service to those closest to you?