I remember the conversation clearly.
“Mama”, he had asked, “why do you have to pull the weeds in your flowerbed up by the roots? Why can’t you just cut them like Daddy cuts the grass”? It had been hours since we had been outside but his little mind was turning constantly, as little minds tend to do. I was now cutting his hair as he sat savoring his piece of gum and thinking deep thoughts. I felt a tug on my heart as I immediately saw a teachable moment present itself.
My first thought was that I was too tired for deep conversations. Yet, these teachable moments are important so I combed and made careful cuts and chose careful words to explain. I talked about the roots of weeds and the roots of bitterness or sin, trying to choose words that would draw a picture in a seven- year-old child’s mind. “So,” he asked thoughtfully, “behaving is good but it’s like just cutting the weed. But Jesus cleans our heart which is like getting the whole root out”? His conclusions were so profound my heart started to beat faster in my chest.
I prayed, as I have many times before, “Lord, does He get it? Could he be ready”? He interrupted my thoughts of what to say next with his own question. “Mama,” he said slowly. I lifted his chin and peered into his eyes, poised to answer his next questions. He continued, “I think I got hair in my gum. Can I go spit it out”? I sighed and nodded.
These are the moments as a Mom that we wonder if we are getting our message across. If we are honest, some days we are just flat tired. Some days the questions start before you pour the first cup of coffee and eight o’clock comes and goes and everyone isn’t tucked in yet. Some days it feels like too much effort and we would rather overlook the teachable moment in order to expedite bedtime or find the answers to random questions we never even thought to ask. “Why is air invisible”? “Do planets have different smells”? “Who made God”? It never ends, really. That glorious moment when the short hand of the clock hits the eight? Well, it isn’t so glorious when you are still struggling to get little ones to settle down, close their eyes, and stop talking. If we aren’t careful, those nights it can cause a shift in our attitude the same way the moon causes a shift in the tide.
Motherhood is hard. But I think it is difficult because it is a ministry. Perhaps, it is one of the most important ministries you could ever be involved in. Maybe that is why Paul’s instruction to “press on toward the goal” is so fitting for mamas. When we choose to muster up the energy to have that conversation, to take advantage of the teachable moment, to answer the hard questions; we are being poured out and creating fertile ground where a love for God can take root. As Aiden can now tell you, roots are important. It is the roots that determine whether the plant will thrive or not. It is the roots that determine whether the plant will bear fruit.
Sure, you might spend half an hour pouring your heart into a deep conversation just to be met with deep theological thoughts like, “I think I got hair in my gum”. Yet, we must keep planting seeds and tilling ground. When we plant seeds in the earth it may takes weeks or longer to see any sign that growth is taking place. Yet, we plant. We plant, we water, and we nurture. Then, we trust that God is going to bring something up from that ground. The same is true in the hearts of our children. I am learning that there is nothing as important planting God’s Word and His truth in their hearts. Then we can trust that He is working long before we ever see the first signs of fruit.
It is a lot like gardening. Plant, water, nurture, and patiently rely on the Son to grow something special.
Also, maybe forego the gum when giving haircuts. But that’s totally your call.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 6: 9 says “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up”.