I love my 4 kids. I really do. I think they’re charming and delightful. I thoroughly enjoy their adorable personalities and unique quirks. They are precious gifts from the Lord. Seriously. I really mean it.
But sometimes when I see it’s minutes away from the appointed time for them to come home from school, I wish I could buy another hour and turn the clock back a bit.
It’s not that I don’t like having them around (see “I love my 4 kids” paragraph above). It’s just that I may be on a roll, getting things done and I see that the school day is nearly over and I realize I need to “Mom” again.
When my kids first arrive home after a long day at school—that witching hour when everyone is hungry and grouchy and tired and stressed out at the same time—I have to divide myself into pieces so that I can feel and suffer and care along with them and take on a little of their struggles.
If one kid is having trouble learning his sight words, then it becomes my trouble, too.
If another kid is having problems with friends, then it becomes my problem, too.
Now, there is a line to be drawn when it comes to involvement with your kids. It is possible for me to take on my kids’ problems to the extent that I impair their ability to problem-solve and strategize. But loving someone means sometimes setting aside our own interests and agenda to focus on another’s. At my house, it means caring about which team is going to win the European soccer championship title and who’s going to prom with whom and listening to highly detailed stories about lunchroom hijinks.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in John 15. He’s trying to explain to them how much he loves them. It’s a tall task because His love for them is so enormous. Then he turns this discussion of love distribution over to his followers. He says, “I demand that you love each other as much as I love you.”
Well, that sounds impossible! We know what Jesus does next in the story. He dies a gruesome death on the cross. How can we be expected to love in that way? Jesus goes on to say, “And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends.” (TLB)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a lot of opportunities to die for the people I love. So how do I obey this seemingly impossible command? Jesus tells his disciples to love each other in an extraordinary, life-giving, missional, selfless way. He asks that we show love in proportion to the degree He showed love to us, to pursue others with heaps of abundant grace and often undeserved kindness.
If given the opportunity, I would lay down my life for the 4 knuckle-heads who call me Mom. Assuming that situation doesn’t ever materialize, I will try to lay down the time and attention I’d rather devote to other pursuits and focus on them, so I can show them a great love.