Lessons I’ve Learned from my Mother
#1- Don’t focus on the dust.
I thought I might do a little series of posts on things my mother has taught me through the years that I have been married and have been raising my children- things that she tells me when I call on the phone and wail about the latest incident in the house. I appreciate her balance of being sympathetic to my situation – she had 8 children herself, and yet honest and bold enough to tell me what I need to hear. Sometimes it’s the tough side of love, but it is usually the quickest way to get me out of the emotionally drained hole I am it.
So, the first one I’ll mention is “Don’t focus on the dust.”
She doesn’t quite say it that way on the phone, but that’s usually the way I remember it. Generally I hear the dust pep talk when I’ve hit rock bottom with the children and the house and everything all together. Usually I’ve had some disaster (real life example: Jeff floods the kitchen with the water that comes out of the door on the freezer.) and I’ve been interrupted with Bible School questions, and there are 5 piles of laundry sitting on my bed to be folded, and I haven’t done any school, and we need groceries, and I probably didn’t go to bed on time the night before. I’m worn out, upset, tired, and without a plan and so I call her and say, “I quit!”
She translates that into, “I am an Israelite walking through the desert. I don’t like it and I want to go back to Egypt.” Then I get the “talk”. She tells me all about the Israelites. I never really thought much about them and how they went from one place to another, but since she has latched on to this story, I see them very clearly now:
The Israelites are walking in a line, well a sort of line with all the tribes, one after the other trudging along. There are groups of cattle with their owners and then comes another family behind, then a cart or two of stuff bumping over the rocky ground. After that is another family with their meager herd of goats and 5 children and a wheelbarrow, next is a man who had a cage of chickens and a very large tent that no one understands WHY he must lug that huge thing around when EVERYONE knows it’s terribly impractical. There are 600,000 of these people and YOUR family happens to be smack dab in the middle of the line. Somewhere in between Reuben and Benjamin, thousands of animals, carts, kids, stuff, and noise, there you are walking along with the rest of them. It’s hot, it’s rocky, and the wheels on whatever you have don’t roll smoothly across the ground. Generally your children are running in circles around you because they’ve already walked for so long that they are TOTALLY bored of it and there are no signs for playing the ABC game- even if you could stand it. Since you are in the middle and happen to be behind some family’s herd of cattle and in front of some lady’s prize rooster, you manage to get the best of both worlds: the mounds of cow dung to avoid AND to try to keep your kids out of, the dust that gets in your face from being stirred up by all those hooves, and the lovely crowing behind to serenade your little escapade as you go. Can you picture it? Don’t you love your journey through the desert? Of course not! It’s hard, hot, long, crazy, and besides that, every night no matter what, you have more sand in your bed than anyone else in camp!
The key is that in your walk- you’re focusing on the dust. All the hard things of the NOW. Everything that’s tough that makes you want to complain. It’s hard to have long range vision sometimes, but that’s what the Israelites needed more of- long range vision. They needed to look beyond the dust and the noisy animals and see where they were headed: The Promised Land! God had prepared a special place for them, just for them. He was carving out a way, feeding them, giving them water, meeting their needs and going before them every step of the way to get them to their glorious home. That’s what I need to remember- where I’m headed.
God says children are a blessing from the Lord. He says that because they ARE, not because they might be or could be or someone else’s are to them. NO. Children ARE a blessing and right now during the little years when things are really hard, He has still said they are a blessing and they will be later too.
Then my Mom often reminds me of my relationship with my siblings. Since we grew up in a Christian family that focused a lot on doing things together- we love each other and times when we are together, it’s one of the best things in life. They are my best friends and we have a blast together. That’s the vision I can see. I also see my siblings making wise choices having good character and being a “Jesus” influence on others in the world. I can look at those things and think of them as my Promised Land for my family. When I look ahead, it’s easier to make sense of why I put up with the frustrations of here and now. I no longer want to give up and sometimes become inspired to walk harder, faster and most importantly, with a smile on my face.
We are building an army for Jesus in our family. As one politician put it, though I can’t recall who, "If we can’t change them, we’ll just out number them." Training lots of little soldiers is hard work, but we can have the vision of a mighty army of Christians changing the tide of thinking, action, and moral decay in our society and that is what keeps me going when the road is dusty.
So, don’t focus on the dust. Focus on the goal at the end, our Promised Land, our vision of making a difference in the lives of others, and the vision of raising Godly men and women who can do the same.