At the beginning of last week I read through Philippians 2 and prayed through this verse in particular:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (v 3-4)I prayed that God would help me to delight in my kids, to choose them over myself, to stop and tune IN; to listen; to engage.
I am finding these years with older kids somewhat challenging. They no longer need me to kneel down and tie their shoes, to choose their clothes for the day, or to hold them when they're sad.
Those littler years were easier for me in the sense that their needs were obvious. [I actually feel quite qualified to tie shoes and choose clothes. ;)] And the way God created me is that I thrive on seeing a tangible need and moving to meet it.
I'm not yet in the habit of doing that. Can I be perfectly honest? I don't want to give up my carved-out-for-me-quiet-time-in-the-afternoons for a child who wants to sit and talk. I know. Selfish. Of course I love them and if I take the long view, of course I want that type of relationship with them. But my flesh wants a break. I am tired. I often feel depleted with all the demands on my time and attention. So I tuck myself away in my room every afternoon to have quiet. To spend time journaling, praying and reflecting. I am resistant to give up "my time" to meet their relational needs. And yet I sense a gentle nudging of God, asking me about giving up some of that time for them.
I also suspect that this means that I need to take the opportunities as He brings them, regardless of what I'm doing.
I don't know what form this will take or if this will be a consistent, regular time. And so I pray for a heart to serve them, to put them above my own self. I pray that God would give me opportunities to serve and bless them; to be willing to die to myself and my own ambitions and interests and gladly make time and space for them. I pray for humility, and that He would help me look to their interests; look to the things they are interested in.
I made a list in my journal of all the things my kids are currently* interested in (*these things change, you know. ;)). I made a list for Mark, too. I think God has used those lists really practically in the past week. I can think of several examples where something off the list has come up and I've been challenged to respond. One of the kids wanted to play catch in the front yard, but couldn't find a sibling to play with them. I didn't particularly want to play catch, (there was dinner to make; dishes to do, etc) but recognized that God was giving me an opportunity to engage in this child's interest. So we played catch for probably a good hour. And we had a whole lot of fun. :)