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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Grace & Metamorphosis

This week in our Ministry of Motherhood book club, we continue to study the gift of grace, specifically,  giving the grace of forgiveness in action and the grace of encouraging words. I did my initial reading of the two chapters of Sally Clarkson's book, underlining the key points that spoke to me and I looked at Sally's video.

Reading and listening to Sally's words always makes me cry as I realise how much I have failed to give my children these graces. Her words convict me and an arrow pierces my heart. I have no doubt I'm in the place God wants me to be.

Five years ago, when I found out that I was pregnant with my last little girl, I wondered what God's purpose could possibly be for allowing a ten year gap between our children, for making me wait until I was 38 years old and thinking I was over the breastfeeding, diapering, teething and tantrums. I even felt a bit resentful at what I saw as a coming full circle when I had just started thinking I could do something different with my life, the last child more or less old enough to not need me so much.

Well, perhaps it was for THIS... this learning and growing, pruning and blossoming, hurting and crying , falling and rising. Perhaps THIS place where God says "Here's another chance to get it right this time..do it better". I picture Him saying it as He told so many people when He healed them... the adulteress.. "Go and sin no more".

Here I am, sitting at His feet, learning and growing, reading and listening to words that inspire and encourage me to reach for that higher branch.. and as always.. He makes me LIVE what I learn!

If you read my post of  last week you would have some insight into how my own upbringing had shaped my previous attempts at motherhood.  In Chapter 3, Sally speaks of encouraging words and tells us that we must be careful while instructing and training our children not to discourage them through nagging, criticism and reprimands and that our  correction  must be balanced with encouraging and affirming words.

How this one made me ache inside... I am so guilty of doing this!

My heart broke a few days ago when my four year old was AFRAID to tell me she had disobeyed me to the point where she had hurt herself and, because it had happened while she was doing something she ought not to have been doing, she stayed alone and afraid, bleeding all over my bathroom. Praise God, it was only a little cut, but it DID bleed profusely and this panicked, nerve-wracked mother took a while to get to the point where I could speak calmly to her. I felt so much GUILT that I had instilled that kind of fear in her.

Words.... James 3:10 tells us "the blessing and curse come out of the same mouth." I want my words to heal, encourage, bless, nurture... not wound, not instill fear, not alienate my children.

When I did the James bible study earlier this year, I knew that controlling my tongue is a HUGE challenge for me. The patterns of behavior that have become ingrained in me can only be erased, pruned and discarded, by my total surrender to Him.

  I have learnt  that though I am weak and influenced greatly by my flesh... I do not have to be a slave to it. I CAN change through Him because "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"  Philippians 4:13

Slowly, I am being transformed and the moments of giving in to my flesh become fewer. I had the chance to put what I am learning into practice yesterday, when my four year old daughter was very, very naughty. I came upstairs to find that she had taken every single one of my lipsticks and used it as 'crayon' to mark on my cupboard doors.

Anger descended swift and raging hot... my tongue started to  whip mercilessly.. the flesh in me resorting to old habits of threatening, yelling, words that hurt my precious child... but through the red haze I heard Sally's voice of wisdom.. I abruptly stopped talking, put her on her bed and went into the bathroom where I felt shame and sorrow at my loss of control.. at my sinking into the old skin.

I came out of the bathroom and with dripping hair took my daughter onto my lap. I didn't need my 18 year old to tell me that she was consumed by fear. I had done it again.. could I fix it? Thank God for the sweet love and forgiving heart of a young child! Thank God, that this time I have a compass and I can have accountability for  my behaviour. Thank God that because of His work in me and the path He has lead me on to find such earthly teachers as Sally Clarkson and a whole bevy of faithful women from whom I can learn and be inspired by.. I am not the person I used to be and my outburst was shortened, my hand itching to slap was stilled.  It is not enough though.. not enough.

This metamorphosis continues.. I am far from perfect and this quote from Sally sums it up "I will never be able to live up perfectly to his standards or even to mine. That is why the grace of God has meant so much to me. I know I will fail, but I also know he is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me of all my unrighteousness"

We are all in a state of metamorphosis while we walk this earth.. we are destined to be beautiful butterflies flying around in Heaven someday. God is constantly drawing us to higher levels of perfection.. as we grow we shed our old skins for new ones. I am humbled by the examples set before me and determined to try harder.

This quote from Chapter 4 truly speaks to my heart "It is gracious forgiveness that enables us all to move past our mistakes and keep on growing. Even more important, it is forgiving grace that makes real love possible in our lives."  How true these words!

 Thank you for second chances Lord, thank you for Sally, Courtney and Angela and for all the other women you have placed in my life. May you bless them and their families and ministries.

Oh blessed Grace.. thank  you Lord that because of your love and merciful grace, I can rise again when I fall and do it better... and, at least try, to sin no more. Thank you for grace that takes me out of my old skins to new beautiful ones and the promise of  what awaits me at the end of my metamorphosis here on earth.


Jessica Heights said...

Praise God that He gives us His grace so freely, that we may learn to give it to others...even when it takes a while. :)

Lisa Maria said...

Amen Jessica!

Kristin Bridgman said...

Oh, I remember the days of young children:) I think God didn't think twice to bless you with your last child, obviously trusting you to be her mother. He chose YOU to be her mother:)
I have a feeling you are doing just fine and your daughter is blessed!
Sure would love to have you as a next door neighbor!!!

Lisa Maria said...

Oh Kristin thank you for your sweet words of affirmation today. I'd love to be your neighbour too.. still dreaming of sitting on your porch gazing out on that beautiful garden of yours and I think a trip to your pond would be glorious! :)

Love & Blessings to you and yours. Hope all is well at your place.