We watched the monkeys at the zoo that spring day for a long while. The tiny one was a just-new baby. He wobbled along behind his mother, desperate for her. Maybe the baby wanted fed...again. Or maybe he was startled and afraid. Maybe he was seeking the comfort of her touch--for her to sit down and just hold him. Whatever the motivation, his mother was having nothing to do with him. She shooed him away once. He followed. She quickly climbed away to avoid his reach. He toddled to follow. She looked at him annoyingly then turned away to climb again. He followed. Then shockingly, she took his hands off of her and physically cast him aside and moved along without him. We stopped watching there.
It stung to watch, both for pity's sake and because of the twinge of guilt I felt in my own heart. I snapped a quick picture that day because I needed the reminder.
Romans 1 tells us that God speaks through His creation. From mountains and sunsets, to the very creatures He created to fill the earth, He instructs us about who He is and who we are in relation to Him. I was instructed from a creature that day about the heart of a mother. That mother monkey serves as an example still--an example of the kind of mother I do not want to be.
But I recognized a bit of myself in her. No, I do not physically cast my children aside, but in my heart, in my words, have I been unkind, impatient and bothered by their needs? Through the years...some days...yes.
Motherhood is a long-haul kind of job. Newborn babes are wrapped up in dreams of who your child will become under your loving care. It doesn't take very long before you realize there will be vomiting through the night and battles of the will and general undoings which can make dreams a distant memory. Motherhood is hard work. It is good, hard work. It is one of those lifelong pursuits which require endurance, perseverance, and every once in a while, a deep stirring up in love.
Through time and trials, we can wear grooves in our actions like anger, permissiveness, laziness, or distraction. These can become the default way of dealing with life. But in doing what comes naturally, we may not see how we have settled. These habits need to be broken up, plowed under and then our hearts can be stirred up to love and good works in Christ.
Are you needing to be stirred up in your calling as a mom? Are you bothered by your little "monkeys"? Are you happy to be distracted from your role as mother? These questions don't only apply to motherhood. Whatever your calling may be, do you recognize when you need a fresh filling of God's love and power?
I am writing this post because I recently was in need of this myself. After a long season of extra workload for our family, I was feeling depleted and stuck in several ruts in my mothering. I needed my heart plowed and stirred again. I began to pray for this. I asked my friends to pray for this. And God answered.
Unlike that mother monkey, God is not bothered by the endless requests and insatiable needs of his children. He wants us to seek Him and He will not cast us aside. If you find yourself hardened in a rut, perhaps ask God to renew your fervor for the role He has given you and to give you fresh eyes for your calling. He has equipped you to obey His Word if you are His child. Once you begin asking, watch and see how He brings specific ways to stir you up to fulfill the calling He has given you. He will!
Something that has been an encouragement to me is the Revive Our Hearts 30-day Challenges. Listed there are 11 different challenges from Respecting your Husband to Praying for your Pastor and your Pastor's Wife to The Mom Challenge (which is one I am currently doing). Through a simple sign-up form you can enroll to get an early morning email with a targeted devotional and action point for 30 days.
This is just one suggestion. Of course there are countless ways to be stirred and to stir others up to love and good works in Christ. But to effect that change we do need to be praying to the One who can fill and then watching for and following the path He provides as answers to those prayers.
As we shine a light on motherhood this weekend, may you be blessed and stirred up in love; whether you are a mother or not.
With love, Erika