Treasures of truth for the Mommies

This past week brought several opportunities to remember the early years of motherhood.  A tantrum at CVS (by a toddler - not by one of my pharmacists!) A weekend with my (perfect) grandchildren. And an unfortunate mishap most likely brought on by sleep-deprived distraction.

As I watched the power struggles and the infinitesimal patience required and the apparent self-doubt, I recalled a verse.  The last part of one, actually, that has ministered grace and encouragement and hope to my fragile soul ----especially during the early years of motherhood.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:11

He gently leads those that have young.

I still remember the first time I encountered that verse.  Or at least the first time it leapt off the pages to pour water on my parched and despairing heart.

I was in the fellowship hall of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta at some ladies event.  I hadn't wanted to go -- I was tired to the point of tears, lacking confidence to the point of pathetic, and pretty sure everybody else had read some book that I would never know the title of.  I only had two littles at the time and I was seated at a table with "the experts".  Mothers who smiled and had nail polish on and could actually string three words together in an intelligible sentence.  One of these women had SEVEN CHILDREN.  SEVEN!!!!!!!!  That's more hands than two parents have COMBINED!!  And they were all breathing, growing up well, and walking with Jesus, for crying out loud!  I wasn't even sure I could keep these two humans assigned to my heart alive, much less trained up in the fear and admonition of the Lord!  (Sometimes I figured they would likely have the fear part down but it would probably be fear of ME and not of God...) And sitting within arm's reach of me was a coherent, smiling, composed woman with SEVEN.

This verse was written on a card for the centerpiece.  I was pretty certain I'd never seen it before and wondered if it really was in the Bible.  So I asked the seven-children-super-Mom if it was, figuring she probably had all 66 books, 1189 chapters, and 31,173 verses memorized. And if it was, could it somehow help me cope?

She smiled the sweetest. most tender, compassionate smile.  It felt like that smile hugged my heart and patted my soul.  I probably was tearing up and she responded with such grace.  Such understanding.  I don't recall verbatim what she said when I asked "How do you do it?  Give all 7 what they need, I mean?" but I do know it went something like this:  "I don't.  I can't.  But He can and He helps me everyday."  And, yes, she assured me that that verse was in the Bible and that it was indeed a promise of help.

The seven-children-super-Mom didn't parse that verse for me that evening in that Marietta church basement but she did breathe it into my soul.  And, through the years, as I clung to it for dear life, I've unpacked it to find a treasure of life-giving truths.

I'd like to share those with you.

1.  He
He gently leads those with young.
The books and seminars, the experts and sages, and certainly Facebook and Pinterest all mandate how we are to parent.  But they aren't the answer.  He is.  He alone is the resource and the strength and the wisdom we need to parent.
He is the one we need to follow.  And He makes Himself available to each of us.  Every day.  Every trial.  Every struggle.
Good idea to turn to Him for what I need.  And, most likely, those young will learn to do the same.

2.  Gently
He gently leads those with young.
 He isn't in a hurry, He isn't dragging me along, and He certainly isn't screaming at me to "come on!  we're going to be late"!! What a difference gentleness makes!  
A gentle approach is much more effective than a harsh one.  It makes us feel valued, understood, respected.  If we can emulate that gentleness with our children, they are more inclined to respond favorably.  And vice versa...

3.  Leads
He gently leads those with young.
He's not just with me and for me, He is leading me. My role in parenting has purpose.  There is a path to follow, a goal to strive for, and a person who can take me there.  It is He. I am not babysitting or caretaking - I am running a race and training other runners at the same time.  I must discern His leading and follow.
I think the point is to be able to say, as the Apostle Paul does, Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1)

4. Those with young
He gently leads those with young.
What an treasure to know that He views Mommies with such tenderness, such favor, such promise.  What an encouragement to know that He bestows special treatments on Mommies.  Like understanding sleep deprivation.  And tantrum frustration.  And power struggle angst. 
Like not defining us by our response at any given moment but rather imparting His identity to us.  Like not even holding us responsible for the behavior of those young but rather expecting accountability only for our own following of His leading

In Scripture, there are some verses that are for men to adhere to.  There are mostly verses for us all to obey.  But at least this one is just for Moms. And not just Moms of littles but for all Moms - because my young'uns will always be my young' I can cling to the promise that He will always gently lead me.

I left that church basement grateful for that treasure in Scripture but also for the treasure of a woman who didn't leave me in my bewilderment but rather left some footprints for me to grow into.  Footprints of a vision, not a pipe dream. Footprints of purpose, not of pity.  Footprints of a legacy, not an entitlement. 

To fill those follow those a lot of work.  A lot of discipline.  A lot of prayer. 
And more fulfillment that I ever would've imagined when I first read Isaiah 40:11 on that index card 22 years ago.

P.S. - Happy Birthday, Baby Betsy!  Can you really really really be 13???