Carrying My Burdens

Finally, after overstaying its welcome, winter seems to be moving out! Our days have been filled with sunshine, clear skies, and warm weather, and my boys want nothing more than to be outside. For my two-year-old, that means daily walks to the creek down the road from our house, where he likes to throw in big rocks and see how big a splash he can make.

Yesterday, he got the idea to ride his tricycle down to the creek. He just learned to pedal over the last couple months, and he loves any opportunity to ride.

I knew when he suggested it, he wouldn’t make it down there and back on the tricycle. There’s a big hill to climb on the way back, and his little legs would never hold out. But I didn’t discourage him. I walked beside him, smiling as he put his heart and soul into pushing those pedals and bending down to give him a gentle shove now and then to help him out. We both laughed as he sailed down the hill, his white-blond hair standing straight up in the wind.

Parking his tricycle in triumph next to the creek, his grin stretched from ear to ear. “I did it, Momma!”

“You sure did,” I said, holding my hand out to receive a very enthusiastic high five.

He threw the pile of rocks he’d brought in the tricycle’s pouch into the water, letting them splash one by one. When he finished, he mounted his trike again, ready to go back home.

But just as I expected, his now-tired legs didn’t have the strength. He only made it a few feet before he stopped. “I can’t make it go.”

I smiled. “It’s okay. Let’s just walk. We can carry it home.”

He got off the tricycle and watched me as I hoisted it onto my hip, holding one of the handlebars. He grabbed the other one. “I’ll help you, Momma.”

“Thank you,” I replied. Together, we climbed the hill heading home. He strutted as he clutched the handle. He was Momma’s big helper. I carried the weight of the tricycle and let him believe he was really doing some work next to me.

As we neared the top of the hill, he stopped again. “Momma, can you carry me?”

Again, I smiled. “I sure can.” I lifted him onto my other hip and finished the short walk back to our house.

It was such a small thing, but as I carried him home and looked down at him, his sweet little cheek resting on my shoulder, I saw myself in him. God spoke to me in that moment.

How many times have I set out to do something on my own, counting on my own strength to get it done? How many times has God given me those gentle pushes on my path, pushes I didn’t give him credit for because I only saw the work I was doing “on my own”?

And when I’ve failed…and I have, so, so many times…how many times has He carried the weight of my burden for me? Even when I didn’t see His hand because I didn’t know Him and all He did for me?

And when I was so weak, so exhausted I couldn’t go on, how many times has He picked me up and carried me the rest of the way?

I am so, so thankful for His love and forgiveness. But today, I am thankful for His quiet strength. I wasted so much of my life knowing who He was but not really knowing Him. For years, I failed to give him the credit where it was due, not realizing that without Him, I could do nothing. But He never demanded the glory – it was up to me to humble myself and see Him for who He was and what He was doing in my life and give that glory to Him.

We are so lucky to have a God who knows us inside and out – our thoughts, our flaws, our mistakes – and still loves us more than we will ever understand. A God who wants to walk with us and strengthen us, even carry us through life’s trials.

Jesus offers to carry our burdens for us. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). We can give Him our troubles, our worries, our stress, and He will carry that load for us and provide the rest we all so desperately seek.

I am thanking Him today for the many times He’s held me through life’s storms. I pray that I will never again fail to give Him the glory and praise for all He does in my life. He is still working in me, and He knows (even when I forget) how much I need Him. I am so thankful for all the times I can see His hand at work in my life. But I’m especially thankful for the times He is there next to me, carrying my troubles or even carrying ME, even when I fail to see Him. He is faithful, and He is good. Even when I don’t deserve it.

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Motherhood

Sometimes I feel like I’m failing at this whole “motherhood” thing.

My oldest son is five years old. And, well, he’s all boy. He’s rough, he dirty (he is filthy by the end of every single day – somehow even on those rainy days when we have to stay in the house), he’s loud, he’s goofy, and he’s wild.

But he’s also loving. He gives the tightest bear hugs I’ve ever received. He loves to read the Bible and pray and talk about Jesus. When his little brother cries, he hurries to find a toy for him or tries to make him laugh.

I try my best to teach him the things he needs to know – what it really means to love others, how to treat people, how to be the kind of person that I hope for him to be.

And most of the time, even at this young age, I can see that he is becoming the kid, and eventually the man, that I know he is capable of being. Under all that rough-boy exterior is a sensitive little boy who loves to hug and kiss and make others feel good about themselves. A little boy who includes others and protects the people that he loves.

But like every kid, he makes wrong choices, too. I see those wrong choices when we’re alone from time to time, like a few nights ago when his ten-month-old brother was crying, and he told him to “shut up” – something he knows he’s not allowed to say but he thought he was far enough out of my earshot to get away with it. Sometimes he talks back to me. He can be rude. Hateful, even.

I can honestly say that when we’re at home, I see a whole lot more of the GOOD stuff than the BAD stuff. But for whatever reason, as soon as we get around other people, my son can turn into a different person. Like today, at my mother’s house, when he got mad at his older cousin and left a scratch on his face…and then turned around and got too rough with his younger cousin and upset him, too.

Today, as I paced outside the door where he sat in time-out, I felt so disappointed. I just kept thinking in my head, Why does he act like this? This isn’t the way I’ve taught him to behave – why doesn’t he listen to what I’ve said? Why can’t he be the sweet boy that I know when we get around other people? Why does he have to do something to get in trouble ALMOST EVERY TIME we have a family gathering?

As I asked these questions in my mind, a still voice spoke to me. Are you perfect? Are you the person that I want you to be at all times? Tears came to my eyes when I recognized HIS voice and I realized that just as my son acts out against me, I act out against God. I know what He wants for my life. I know what He expects out of me. And yet I find myself repenting of sin – the same ones, it seems – almost daily. I could picture God pacing my doorway, asking Himself the same types of questions I asked myself about my own child: This isn’t the way I’ve taught her – why doesn’t she listen to what I’ve said? Why does she keep making the same mistakes? Why can’t she be the woman that I created her to be?

Just as I began to really feel down about myself –for both my failures as a mother and my failures as a child of God – I heard that still voice again: I love you anyway, just as you are. My kids aren’t perfect, and neither am I. But the same way I love my child no matter what he says or does, no matter how trying some days may be, God loves me, too. He doesn’t love me less when I mess up and I don’t have to “earn” His love any more than my son has to earn mine – He gives it freely.

Being a mother is my favorite part of God’s plan for me. The love that I feel for my boys is greater than anything I’ve ever known. And today, God showed me that motherhood is His way of giving us a glimpse of the infinite love that He has for us.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the giving, hard-working, beautiful mothers out there!