Friday, August 29, 2008

Stop! In the Name of Love...

While I was in college, periodically there would be an evening of fun built around a theme for skits, music, etc. One of these nights really stands out in my mind. My handsome fiancĂ© (hubby today:) was in one of those skits. He was off to the right of the stage standing alone in front of the microphone with the dumbest looking leather aviator hat on his head. I loved him, but boy did he look goofy! Two of his friends were sitting in lawn chairs in the middle of the stage and all were dressed in beach attire. While the others sang the words to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, my guy, yep...the man I agreed to spend my life here on earth with, played the “roll” of the “rolling waves”. It was hilarious! He was up there crashing and thundering on the shore with all his worth. Oh…thank you God for sweet memories!

Another group performed a song by the Supremes, “Stop…In the Name of Love”. (Now, they were before my time :) but if you are too young to even know what that song was, I did do an internet search and found a taping of the Supremes singing it on YouTube here). The college group sang and went through different hand motions to boot, it too was quite funny. I don’t know why I would have remembered it later, but when my first child was little and she would cry, this chorus was one of the songs I would “silly up” to try to get her happy and smiling. It usually worked and so I continued through all the other children to my little man today. I do some crazy hand motions and sing my heart out! I am probably the one looking goofy now, but as a mom, you know you’ll do just about anything to make that sad little one smile!

Now, out of all honesty, I went through a time where I really struggled with being angry with my children when they did something foolish, childish, made a mess or in general, just made life more difficult for me than I felt they needed to. In talking with God about this later, I realized it started about the time our 5th little one was born. There is a 6 year gap between child number 3 and number 4 so when our 4th came along, I could still pretty much manage my life. However, when that 5th one arrived, the other was 2, the olders were getting that much older and I began to really feel the pressure. I was definitely walking in my own strength and not feeling the “joy” of the Lord.

I felt the weight in homeschooling the older 3. As they were getting older, lessons were getting more important and I didn’t want to “mess them up”. I struggled with trying to adjust to having a baby and toddler again in the midst of that homeschooling stress that I put on myself. There was tension as my husband was in the midst of an extremely difficult career change. A time full of the disappointments in letting go of something so deeply desired and reaching forward to what God intended the new to be. Add to this a move, a new church transition, and a myriad of other factors and you just get a stressed out lady.

I found myself smiling less and wearing a furled brow. I was allowing myself to become too easily bothered, even angry, over the littlest things. My first response to most inquiries was “no!” All in all, I don’t think I must have been much fun to live with. I remember crying out to God… “this is not how I want to respond…this goes against everything I have been learning from You…all my children are going to think I am hypocritical as I teach them how to behave one way, according to the Bible, but I myself respond in the opposite…” and on and on and on. I was not fooling anyone, including myself.

I remember one day in particular. I was in the face of one of my little girls about something she had done. It was just a childish infraction, but I was livid! It really put me over the edge. No…I allowed it to put me there. I had allowed this angry countenance to cover me gradually, until it was my reaction to anything or anyone that “messed with” my day or my duties. I remember looking in her face and seeing fear. She was afraid of her Mama at that moment! “Oh dear God…what am I doing…what am I saying? Oh God…stop me, please, stop me!” Oh how faithful He is when we cry out to Him! He stopped my words and as I began to cry, I folded that sweet babe into my arms and rocked her while we both whimpered. I kept kissing her head, apologizing to her and to God.

A child should NEVER be afraid of Mama. To be concerned over the consequence of sin, knowing that due punishment was coming, sure…but never afraid of Mama. She is his truest supporter. She is the partner during these early years of heart dances. She is the loving words of Jesus as the stories are first filling his head. She is security against all the other things that can be scary in the world. She is the sweetness of his life. She is the kiss and smile that makes all the boo-boos better. She is the believer of the best in him. She is his first love and the first reflection of God on his heart. No, a child should never be afraid of Mama or scared by her!

So now the words to that song have a completely new meaning to me. Sure, I still sing it when someone is fussing or just to be silly. They all expect it around here now and then. :) For me, however, the words ring true for a completely different purpose.


Think over the look on your face, the scowl. Think over the anger swelling up within you. Think over the tone of your voice. Think over the words you are spilling. Think over the intentions of your heart. Think over the spirit of your child. Think over the strong effect your actions right now are going to impress upon your child. Think over your selfishness in the moment. Think over the love of Jesus. Think over all these things…and then stop! Stop before your face twists up into ugliness. Stop before you respond in a hurtful, unloving way. Stop before you let words pour out that you can never put back in again. Stop...and quickly call out to God! Ask for peace, patience, understanding and most of all love. Ask Him to renew your ugly heart and remove all selfishness from you. Ask God to help you love your child in this moment as you truly do always in your heart and to show it in your actions! Discipline if that is what is necessary, but do so lovingly and with a right spirit.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; loving kindness and truth go before Thee. How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Thy countenance.” Psalms 89:14-15

Oh how I do want to “walk in the light of THY countenance” don’t you! Not in the countenance that I am feeling or what naturally comes from this ugly, sinful, selfish heart!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners will be converted to Thee.” Psalm 51:10-13

Look at the last sentence of those verses. “Then…” It is after the clean heart, followed by the renewed, steadfast spirit, being in the presence of the Holy Spirit, having joy restored, walking in a willing spirit… "then…” I can teach my child the transgression of his ways and point him to God. Powerful, huh! Everything God does and says is!

Ask God to put these truths to work in you. Ask Him for forgiveness if it is needed. Then walk in the light of the truth and “walk in the light of (His) countenance.”

Stop! Think this all over! Then walk in love!

(While visiting the archives, the original posting of this piece was apologizes if you already read this writing)