Right after I had my last baby girl, a dear friend of mine sent me a message offering to take some Mommy/Daughter photos. It was extremely touching to me for so many different reasons. After the loss of my baby boy in 2008, I have made it a mission of mine to have newborn shots of all of my other kids taken. You don’t realize how every second with your children is important until you look up one day and they are no longer there. And as the memories of their sweet smelling newborn breath fade year after year, it’s a stark reminder that any memory – even a still photograph – can have amazing significance in healing a wounded mama heart. For this, and other reasons, it blessed me in so many ways that she could never know.
Xaryah was about 5 days old at that point and the session lasted just about 30 minutes. It was several weeks later that I received the photos and I was breath taken. The tiniest window in our humble apartment and some pink toile borrowed from her older sisters’ canopies were transformed into the most beautiful studio photos that I have ever seen.
But there was something else that captured me…Me…
There! There it is. Can you see it? The love is almost tangible. Like you could reach in and scoop out a cup of it. The expressions of utter joy, sheer passion and unadulterated you-are-the-most-beautiful-thing-God-has-EVER-created looks that I was lavishing on my newborn made me well up with tears of thankfulness.
But then something happened – God spoke. You know how God does it y’all. He waits until all the noise has subsided and you are alone with just your thoughts. He waits until you are vulnerable enough to hear His voice and open enough to receive it.
“I wonder what your other children see…”
“What do they see?” I thought. Instant heartbreak. And of course a flood of moments when I was less than stellar at this thing called motherhood came rushing into my mind. Images of me at moments of exhaustion and weakness only to shoot forward in time to the grumpy looking two year old. What did I see? Well, imagine that – a mirrored image! Ugh! Lord, I got it.
Dear mamas and mamas-to-be…what do we want our children to see? What do we want them to remember? Of course we want them to walk away with images of love and tenderness, but the reality is that much of our time is spent in correction, character development, obedience training and in all those other trenches that we must dig in order to produce God’s best in our children. It is a challenge to inject love into all of those times so that our children know that it’s the love, not frustration, driving us. But it is possible. ‘Cause it’s in the Word.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:1a “A gentle answer deflects anger…” I gotta tell you that I always thought that it meant if I answer someone nicely then they will be kind in return. However, after this nudge from God, I see this differently. If I am gentle with my answers, then anger can find no way in me. If I purpose to slow down and coat what I say in love, then the temptation to be angry, irritable and frustrated with my children will be squelched. And that will create the very thing that God was talking to me about. It will change what they see because I am changing who I am.
Have you ever given in to the temptation to sound off at your kids? You know what I mean – it’s been building up all day long. First the lamp is broken, then lunch dropped all of over floor, and finally when the toilet paper is stuffed down the drain then…you…blow! And when you are finished you feel empty and they feel defeated. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:27 “for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” What if we, instead of giving a foothold to the enemy in our children’s lives and memories, did the noble thing of Proverbs 15? We could change the way a whole generation feels about their childhood with just an instant of redirection and self control in ourselves. When I think about my God and all He has endured because of me I can never remember a harsh word, look, or feeling. No. When God does His Daddy-thing it is always gentle and firm and in love. That’s what I remember.
So, the question is will we be purposeful? Don’t panic here Mom. None of us is perfect. Aren’t we thankful for grace! But the next time you look at your children, the next time you feel weak and want to capitulate, remember that it is an outward reflection of an inward thing. Every scowl, pointed finger, look of disappointment, disengagement, or disinterest resounds in the hearts of our children possibly for generations to come. Wouldn’t we rather them know, through our looks, that we love them, need them and find them to be – newborn or not – the most BEAUTIFUL thing that God had ever created?
I know that’s what I want my kids to remember, do you? Take the challenge sis. And I promise, it will have beautiful results!