My daughter and I were recently attending a baby shower together. As often happens during the opening of gifts – advice was given to the mother-to-be. Often, it seems that advice is given to “enjoy every moment.” My daughter and another friend of hers were quietly chuckling and saying…so are we bad moms…because we don’t enjoy every moment? I could relate and reassured them that they were great moms…but were just keeping it real. The truth is – I love being a mom of four and now a grandmother to 6 (almost 7) and thank God daily for these most amazing blessings in my life. I deeply love my children and grandchildren. However, every moment was/is not “enjoyable” and smile producing. And that’s ok. All moments are certainly not “Kodak moments.” (Don’t be fooled – It often takes about 200 photo shots just to to get one with mostly everyone smiling – even when the photo subjects are adorable.)
Honestly, who really enjoys staying awake at night while vomit spews in your face and you clean diarrhea off the carpet while you are achey and have fever? Do you really thrill at the sound of whining, or leap for joy at the flailing and arching of the back out in public when your offspring chooses to have his/her first temper tantrum? Does it warm your heart to discipline and train your child again and again, answer a gazillion questions, wipe crayon off the walls, play Candy Land or help your child do math word problems? Do you really love back to school nights, or being a passenger in the car with your teen who is acquiring driving hours in order to get their license? You get the picture… While I wouldn’t trade parenting for anything…it’s not always filled with fun, enjoyable stuff. Sometimes it’s really hard and it always takes lots of perseverance and prayer.
I remember well the day my firstborn came into the world (over 35 years ago..yikes.) Moms weren’t yet allowed to have their newborns in the hospital rooms with them, so I spent almost every waking moment staring at my daughter through the glass in the nursery. I was thrilled to bring her home. For several weeks I looked forward to her waking every few hours in the middle of the night….just to be able to gaze into her eyes and see her adorable little features. Then…tiredness took over and I didn’t long for the the middle of the night feedings any more. I wondered if I would ever sleep again. (I’m still tired 35 years later.) I didn’t want to get up…but I kept getting up because that’s what love does. Fortunately for all of us, love doesn’t depend on pure enjoyment of the tasks at hand.
We can get all mixed up in our thinking if we think we must enjoy every moment. There are so, so many memories that make me smile and feel all warm and gushy inside. And there are others that were just plain hard. Love goes through both of these feelings resolutely and without favoring one over the other. It’s just part of love.
Too often, I think we try to romanticize our relationship with God as well….thinking it is something that should always make us feel like we are floating above the horizon…filled with unspeakable joy and a song in our heart. While nothing makes me more joyful, fulfilled and puts a song in my heart like my relationship with God…I don’t always feel the warm and fuzzy part of following Jesus. Often it is hard work and determination. Following Jesus takes me to and through hard places. At times I feel like the little lamb scooped close to his heart and at other times I can feel like I am a passenger on his airplane that is flying through turbulence – white knuckled with my seatbelt fastened tightly eager to get through to the smoother air. Still other times I feel spent…and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
1 John 3:16-18
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Love is a decision that supersedes circumstances. Love involves continual self denial. Is your love for God and others just as strong when things are difficult as when they are enjoyable? I think that is when love most shows itself and is really felt the most….through the hard stuff. While you may not enjoy every moment, you can always have the peace producing confidence that love surpasses everything else.
1 Cor. 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.