"You will blink and they will be grown and gone."
"It goes so fast, so treasure every moment."
This is the most freely given advice in the midst of the chaos of raising a troop of children.
Unfortunately, this has never ever inspired me to dig deeper and love harder.
It actually always felt like one more weight to carry, one more area where I didn't measure up, one more item to add to my "to do today" list.
Having young kids is like having this feeling of being both full and hungry at the same time- with people continuously offering which they think I should feel.
I used to tell myself I should always feel full.
"I have 5 beautiful, healthy children. I am blessed. I should not feel hungry for anything else. And there's really not time to be hungry for anything else anyway."
I worked hard at denying myself and giving to my children so I could feel like a good mom.
I gave when I didn't want to give and tried when I didn't feel like trying.
But their needs were endless, and everything I gave was still never enough to feel like I was enough.
I was impossibly busy. Trying to parent well, trying to love my husband well, trying to hold on to my friendships, trying to keep my house from looking like 7 people lived there, trying to keep my body from looking like 4 babies had grown there.
All the while hearing, "Enjoy this. Enjoy them. Do it well."
I knew I should be reading the Word and praying more, but amidst all of the need, praying and reading ended up on the bottom of the "to do today" list.
I told myself that God understood.
He HAD to understand.
When the kids were finally in bed for the night, I needed instant comfort and a break from having to think.
I used TV, food, my husband, girls' nights out, blogging, facebook...
anything to drown out the hunger, the guilt, and the unfinished to do list.
And I woke up the next morning feeling more guilty, more tired, more empty...
What I didn't know about that hunger was that it was never meant to be something to silence. It wasn't something that was wrong with me.
It wasn't something to work harder at not feeling.
It was an opportunity. An invitation.
My Father was beckoning me.
I held "all that I was not" in between us like a wall- all the while He was saying, "Daughter, let me be enough."
My focus was on the children and on all of my inadequacies.
He always knew it was too big of a job for me.
He knew I would never get it right on my own.
He knew I needed Him.
And when I finally stood still long enough to really look at Him, He changed everything.
I saw that He was near me and fighting for me.
I saw that He was actually ENJOYING ME.
Instead of disappointment and disapproval, I saw delight and desire.
He wanted an intimacy with me that I didn't know was possible.
I needed Him more than I had ever known, and He was more than enough for my hunger and my fullness. His love filled me to overflowing, His Word came alive, His nearness became my new reality and my lifeline.
He is shifting my gaze from "who I am not" to "Who He is."
He is changing all the trying and working to leaning and trusting.
Sweet rest. Sweet Savior. Saving me from my sin and then saving me from myself.
I see my children differently now.
My love for them is a reflection of His love for me.
Their needs draw me to the Need Filler.
It's not about feeling like a good mom, but about drawing from my Good Dad.
Not about who I am to my children, but pointing my children to Who He is to them.
Trusting that they are His, and He and I are in this together.
So, before I ever tell another mom to enjoy her children while they are young,
I hope to tell my story of learning to enjoy Jesus and understanding His enjoyment of me while the children were young.
He truly changes everything, and He is all we need in our hunger and our fullness.