In the way.
The opposite of blessing.
I feel sad, anxious and disheartened everytime it happens. Not because my feelings are so fragile, or because the opinion of a stranger bears a huge amount of impact on me. But because I've looked into my boys' eyes during or just after the words are spoken. I've come to realize they are vulnerable, expectant and in need of my reassurance in those moments. They are waiting for my reaffirming words of worth, love, value and blessing. So I've learned to respond, "My hands are full, but you should see my heart." or "Aren't they the best helpers, I sure am lucky" The boys often smile at me, and we keep on doing whatever task we were there to do. (Not that it's never stressful while we are out- this is real-life so whatever you imagine it would be like grocery shopping with 4 young boys, it's probably pretty close to accurate)
I was thinking back to earlier this fall I was at the thrift store with a couple of my boys. We were browsing, and nearby notice a young mom who was there with a toddler. He was demanding a toy, which the mom repeatedly told him "no, not today." He kept asking, in tears, in demands, in whines. She calmly continued to say "no." He wasn't taking no for an answer. I could feel her anxiety rising, I could see her overwhelmed eyes because those eyes have been my own eyes many many times. Overwhelmed. Embarrassed. The "Get me outta here look" I could see the glances of annoyance from other shoppers, from the workers. My heart went out to her. She wasn't giving into her young son's begging demands, she was setting boundaries and teaching in public... which is a least favorite of every mom I've ever known. It's challenging enough to teach at home, or in private, but to be "on display" in public trying to lead our children is not easy, or fun or enjoyable or anything a mom looks forward to. Short term it is so much easier to just buy the toy. Long term we all know that saying no is really important. So in the moment I felt a little nudge from the Holy Spirit telling me to shoulder up to her, and give her just a bit of encouragement. I stood beside her and just quietly said, "You are doing an amazing job. It's not easy. Hang in there, we all have days like this" I couldn't keep the tears from welling up in my eyes or my voice from cracking, and when our eyes met, she had tears in hers too. One of the employees overheard me and our eyes met, they glanced away quickly but I do wonder what was going through their mind. The last thing this mom needed was someone saying, "you sure have your hands full" someone else rolling their eyes at a child acting childish. She needed a blessing. Moms need that vote of confidence and for us to embrace motherhood out in public.
These occurrences remind me of a painting that has hung in our
church's stairwell all my life- I need to learn the history of this painting because it is enormous and beautiful. It's a full color painting of one of my favorite Bible stories of all time. Jesus surrounded with the children and moms.
I've always loved kids, as a young girl there was nothing better to me than getting together with my younger cousins. I loved the chance to be with babies and toddlers. Their noise did not bother me. Their needs did not overwhelm me, I found joy in playing with them and caring for them. But as a mom, it has become increasingly obvious to me that not everyone views kids with warm fuzzy feelings. They often times find them too loud, too messy, too inconvenient. A disturbance. Even with nice intentions, they can often be treated as an annoyance. I believe it would do us all some good if we can learn something from Jesus' example in this story. The disciples wanted to shoo the children away. Much like the people I shop along side of, or the other people in the thrift store that day, the disciples were inconvenienced by the presence, the time, the energy, perhaps the noise of the kids. I can just picture this, can't you? I love how Jesus stepped in- maybe the disciples thought He would be the voice of authority and set these kids straight and send them on their way. This response gives me goose bumps... He stepped in and hushed the disciples- NOT THE KIDS.
(actually my translation says he was indignant with the disciples!)
He took the time to be with the children. To notice them, invest in them and can't you just imagine how He impacted them? He valued them. He laid His hands on them and gave them a blessing.
I put myself in these mothers' shoes, moms that I'm sure I have much in common with. Moms loving their kids, at times overwhelmed with the demands of motherhood, moms trying their best to teach, even in public places. Moms bringing their children to Jesus. How they must have felt to see the disciples annoyed, not wanting to be bothered by their precious kids. A moms heart hurts when our kids are rejected or not wanted, and the disciples sure were trying to get those kids out of there. When we are doing our best and getting glares from across the aisle, or getting huffed at for the shear nerve to have our kids with us. Oh how Jesus must have been an encouragement to them just at that moment of rejection. I can picture their eyes welling up with tears.
Their hands full but their hearts now fuller. That's the effect Jesus has when He enters our moments. He fills hearts.
I bet they soaked it in. Jesus' love on their kids, His attention, care and blessing. He certainly impacted more than just a handful of kids that day- He taught us that kids are worth taking the time for. They are worth the extra messes, the extra noise, the extra everything. He loved that group of kids that day, but I know that He also encouraged a mom's heart. We get to choose who we want to be like, the disciples who didn't want to be bothered, or like Jesus.
Motherhood is no easy gig, a mom's heart is one deeply yearning and in need of encouragement. When someone intentionally invests in our kids, it blesses us. When someone reaffirms for us the value of our children it reaffirms much more for us.
When we are careful of our words, even to a stranger-
we can become a blessing or a discouragement.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
with the privilege to welcome the little ones and follow Jesus' example
Hush adults. Lets listen to the children awhile.