Until the Lord restored my identity as His child, I, too, was a prodigal. Although I had never consciously decided to stray from my Heavenly Father, I had stopped living like his daughter. As my focus changed from being God’s child to being an earthly parent myself, I left behind my intimate relationship with the One who grounded my heart. I exchanged daily dependence on a perfect Father for a shot at being self-sufficient and all grown up. I hadn’t deliberately tried to abandon God. I still loved him. I still worshiped him each Sunday and attended Bible study in between. I still muttered prayers at mealtime and as I tucked the kids in bed for the night. But my lack of daily dependence on Him had left me floundering in an emotional chasm.
Unlike the prodigal son who had fled in haste, I ran from home slowly. Each attempt to find significance as a mother took me one step farther from my Father’s heart. When I relied on my children for fulfillment, I accepted a counterfeit. Only my Abba could provide the soul satisfaction for which I longed.
Fellow-sojourner, Angela Thomas, summarized my own prodigal tendencies in her book Tender Mercies for a Mother's Soul :
I never consciously chose to love my children more than I loved God. I never even thought about it very much. They just moved in and took up residence. They completely swept me off my feet, and I tasted a love for them that I had not experienced before- pure devotion for another human being.
Life was new and amazing with children. What am I saying? My life was new and amazing, but it was also completely full and exhausting. Somehow in those days, I turned all the affections of my heart toward my family. My spiritual eyes became drowsy and eventually fell fast asleep. I had unwittingly wandered away from the passion and intimacy I had known with God. I began to give as I never had before, and the cup of my soul was drained (emphasis mine).3
Oh, that was my story. I felt frustrated, unappreciated, but most of all DRAINED. I had spent my entire life as a mother giving from an empty cup. No wonder I didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror. The woman who had checked into the OB ward on August 17, 1998, was a woman who had lived abundantly. She was connected to her Heavenly Father. She lived from the riches of his mercy. Like the foolish son who had emptied his pockets, this foolish new mom had emptied her soul . The prodigal son had strayed from his source of provision; I had strayed from my source of lavish love.
Little by little, I had left God behind and tried to succeed on my own. In the process, I sacrificed the inheritance intended for God's children. I stopped living on the riches of God's strength and became overwhelmed by my own weaknesses. I stopped living as if I had access to wisdom and went solo in my day-day decision making. I stopped relying on God's provision and bankrupted my own limited reserves of energy and creativity.
From the moment God reminded me of my true identity, I began to see my role as a mother in a new light. I am God’s child first; a mother second. The difference may seem small, but it is the difference that finally brought an end to my cycle of failure and frustration.The difference is that I no longer have to “prove myself” with midnight cleanings or super-mom schedules. I am at rest with the truth that regardless of how I spend my days- changing diapers or changing the world (even the great men and women who change the world began life with a mom who changed their diapers!)-my value is unchanging in Christ. The more I turn to God's word to verify my worth, the less I stumble over my answer to that once-terrifying question, “And what do you DO?”
Flawed and unfinished, the me God want me to be is humbly learning to enjoy what God has called me to do. The me God wants me to be has no fame (like I once dreamed I might), no well-known name (I’d always pictured my autograph scribbled on the inside of all the books I’d write) and no unusual game (being a mom is rather commonplace). But the me God wants me to be is grateful that my fame comes from being the daughter of the KING; my name is inscribed on the back of His hand (Isaiah 49:16); and my game involves the extraordinary privilege of pointing five precious lives to Jesus.
The whoever God wants me to be may never be anything more than a mother and a wife, but in the words of Grandpa Jim, “that sounds like the best thing to be!”
Today's Treasure: Now if we are children, we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. -Romans 8:17