I pray with my kids every night, and I have gotten into the habit of asking God to help them to “love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30). It is something that I, of course, want desperately for them to do.
But tonight at our church prayer meeting, I was convicted by this very verse – not for the children but for me! I spend time reading my Bible, and I make the effort to be at church (even when I have to go without my husband). I serve in various ministries in the church, and I try to listen attentively to the sermons and Sunday School lesson. But what hit me hard tonight was that I am guilty of not loving God with all of my soul!
I say this because I have been quite the “Gloomy Gus” this week! It started on Sunday. I felt ignored and neglected by everyone at church, and the couple of people I tried to talk to were a little abrupt with me (probably just my overactive imagination!). We didn’t make it to Sunday evening church because the kids got sick during nap time, but it felt like nobody really cared one way or another if we were there anyway. Gloomy Gus! Then on Tuesday, my day just fell apart, and all of my kids seemed set against me from the start! To add to it all, it didn’t seem like anyone really missed the fact that it was the second week of Bible Study I had missed. By the end of the day, I was so frustrated with my own children that I had my husband take us all out for ice cream just to get us out of the house before bedtime! See what I mean? Gloomy Gus!
I was having a pretty good day today – except for Hannah and her nap time routine, which she seems determined to lay aside suddenly! But I was doing pretty good for myself. I had a healthy, whole wheat chicken pot pie all set to go in the oven for supper, and I had even managed to try my hand at making some homemade hummus. The kids were all getting along. It was beautiful outside and a great day to take the kids outdoors. I even thought ahead and prepared the diaper bag and Hannah’s backpack to take with us to church. We were all set to go (to actually be on time for Kids4Truth for once!) when Ephraim had an extremely bad diaper, accompanied by a bad diaper rash, and Hannah couldn’t find her shoes. I confess that I just about threw in the towel, wondering if it was truly worth it to try to make it to church tonight.
But once we walked through the doors, I suddenly was so relieved that we were there! Within just a few minutes of arriving, Hannah skipped off happily to her class and said her section for her teacher. Ephraim is always happy to go to the nursery workers, who just happen to be good friends of mine. A friend came up to me and encouraged me in my writing (which is like handing me the moon!). And then came a service full of precious words from women who love the Lord so dearly – a sweet testimony from a friend, precious words of wisdom from our pastor’s wife, and a convicting message from my Bible Study leader.
It was when she told us that even as housewives doing laundry we needed to love the Lord with our whole soul that my eyes began to water, and my heart began to soften. To rejoice in the mundane housework? To sing while I’m folding the laundry? It’s easy to love God with my mind and my strength and even my heart. But my soul? Obviously, from what I’ve shared above, I have not been loving the Lord with my whole soul – instead allowing my feelings and emotions to be sour, unhappy, apathetic, and just plain selfish!
In our bulletins tonight was this verse: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8-9). It’s so easy to honor God with my lips, but my spirit (and essentially, my soul) just have not been in serving Him this week!
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore my children, and I love the children that I have the opportunity to care for during the week. But every once in awhile, when I allow myself to start looking inward, I start to feel like maybe no one really cares about me. Suddenly, my outlook becomes distorted, and I forget that I have always wanted this life! I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom with so many kids that they are falling out of the house! Most days, I am so happy to be able to care for so many kids – especially since I have been blessed to watch some of the sweetest kids I have ever known! And sadly, tomorrow is the last day for one of my sweet little friends, whom I have come to love so dearly, as he heads off to daycare.
I am so thankful that I made it to church tonight because now my focus has re-shifted, and I can change another dirty diaper with a song in my heart. I can accept kisses and hugs from sticky fingers and runny noses and rejoice in these precious lives that have been entrusted to me. I can remember again that God is so good to me and is worthy of praise. And I can love Him with all of my soul.