By Barbara Russell
The most selfless love ever shown to mankind was that of the Lord, Jesus Christ, leaving the glories of heaven to be born into a sin-cursed world, to later become sin, so that we may have the opportunity to accept His sacrifice for sin, and to have the peace of being forgiven. Because of Jesus and His selfless love, I am blessed beyond description!
I believe selfishness is one of the biggest destroyers of a family. Everyone wants to have and do what THEY want or feel like doing. When I was a mom of little children, I often felt that I was the one in the family who had to sacrifice the most: my entertainments, time, wants, food, and just the day-to-day comforts of life all had to be placed last. Yes, I was sacrificing, but it certainly would not be classified as “selfless love.” I was taking care of my husband and children as a duty, not out of love.
Selfless love means willingly putting the needs, desires, and sometimes the wants of the person you love, ahead of your own. Whether it hurts, is painful, or you get nothing out of it for yourself, loving someone selflessly means that you make decisions based not on what you want, but what is best for the one you love.
I had to learn how to love my children. If the truth were known, I would say I had to learn how to love my husband! That actually sounds funny to me! We think we love our husband when we get married, but it doesn’t take very long to discover just how human he is; and those precious little babies we bring into the world very quickly become a lot of work! Selfless love does not come naturally; otherwise, the Bible would not instruct the older women to teach the younger women how to love their husband and children. Through the years, I had to swallow a lot of pride, bury a lot of dreams, and throw away a lot of preconceived ideas, in order to selflessly love my family.
I Corinthians 13 speaks of how we may be a great prayer warrior, have extreme faith, give to the poor, and disregard our bodily comforts, but it means nothing if we don’t have love. Sometimes we may think we love our family because we cook, clean, chauffer, sacrifice our sleep, food, etc. but how is our attitude?
Am I longsuffering? (Showing patience in spite of offenses or hardship caused by others.)
Am I kind? (I know you are struggling; let me help you.)
Am I a self-seeker? (Leave me alone; I need ME time!)
Do I envy? (Life is easier for them, because they don’t have the problems I have.)
Do I brag or boast? (I would never be that type of a mother. That is so embarrassing; I would never do that!)
Do I think evil thoughts? (I don’t feel sorry for them; they got what they deserved!)
Do I talk hatefully, scream my orders, or slap my kids? Do I fail to take care of my children and husband’s needs because I am too busy seeking my own needs? Am I easily angered? (I learned not to say, “I said,” because that insinuates disobedience.)
My children were between the ages of 7 and 10 when I attempted to teach them of selfless love. One morning after instructing them to do something, their response was, “I don’t want to.” I said, “That’s a great idea. How about everyone does only what they want to do today. None of us have to do anything we don’t feel like doing.”
After giving me a puzzled look, they went on their way. Normally at this time I would be getting breakfast together, but instead I sat on the couch and did something I enjoyed. Soon one of the children came to me and said, “I’m hungry, when is breakfast?” “Oh I don’t want to make breakfast today” I replied. With a puzzled look he then asked, “When are we going to the birthday party?” “Oh I don’t want to drive today, so I guess you won’t be going.” With a concerned look, he proceeded to question, “Are we having school today?” “You can do school if you want” I answered, “but I don’t feel like teaching.” By now I could see his little brain wondering, who took my mom, and who is this lady? I explained. “Do you see how your day, and eventually your life, would be affected if everyone did only what they wanted or felt like doing?” Lesson learned.
Whether you had a non- existent, self- centered mom, or a dedicated, selfless mom, neither will determine which kind of a mom you will be. You get to choose.
It is always a joy to me when I hear of children learning to appreciate what others do for them. Recently my daughter- in- law shared with me an incident with my almost 6-year-old grandson. She had pulled a muscle in her back, but still needed to carry out her responsibility of homeschooling. She kindly let her son know that she was going to have to teach him from the couch lying on a heating pad, and that he would need to bring her the books that she needed. As he brought each book to her with a good attitude, the teaching was accomplished, and she thanked him for being so helpful. Soon she was in the kitchen making lunch. When she called the kids up to eat, my grandson looked his mommy in the eyes and said, “Thank you for making me lunch, even when you hurt.” Awww!!! Where is my hug emoji? Sentiments like this are little “paydays” mommies get along the way.
Jesus did not just say He loved us; He proved it “…in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8b. Just like we don’t deserve this great love, we love our family even when they don’t deserve it. Then prayerfully, one day, our children and grandchildren will come to know the One Who showed the most selfless love of all!
Timely Time Machine
By Malissa Custer
I like learning from people. I like understanding others’ perspectives by listening to their life experiences. I like asking questions. I love observing peoples’ families, and putting to practice the good things I find there. This month I asked a few ladies to help me out. I asked them, “If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?”
Titus 2:4-5 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Below you’ll find a valuable conglomeration of good tips that we can all take something away from.
“I would spend less time cleaning, and more time enjoying my children.”
“I was very consistent in discipline, but I did not always break his will. If I could go back I would do that differently. Also, having a correction list made me accountable.”
“If there is one thing that stands out to me most, it would be my lack of submission in many areas. My heritage tends to be the thing that I blame for my picky attitude. If I am perfectly honest, I admit it is a simple unwillingness to just let the Lord have it all. Sometimes, as mothers, we have a tendency to try to run things. Yes, we need to be organized and have routines to better serve our families and the Lord, but at the same time, we need to consider the feelings and issues of our husband and children. I’m so thankful for our pastor and his wife who so many years ago helped me to see myself in a different way. Psalm 19:14 says, ‘Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.’ Also, Proverbs 21:23: ‘Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.’ These two verses are precious to me and say much to live by.”
“I wouldn’t get so caught up in perfection. No matter how hard we try, we will fail; we will make mistakes.”
“Trust your instincts. I would put a lot less stock in other people’s opinions of my children.”
“I wish I had known that, just because a child asks questions before they obey does not always mean that they are trying to get out of doing something. Sometimes kids are just trying to understand why something is happening or how something will be working. I also wish I had known that one of my children didn’t realize when a parent was playing and teasing with them; instead they thought they were being berated or knocked down. (Imagine my horror, when I found that out years later!).”
“I would play with them more.”
“I wish I wouldn’t have let social media be part of their lives.”
“If I could go back, I would remind myself that Christ does the saving, the convicting, the drawing, the healing. Not us. No parent can do the work of the Holy Spirit.”
“I would be more consistent.”
“I wish I had known that even though I was totally exhausted and dealing with post-partum depression, any issue that I let go – thinking I would deal with it later – would be 100 times harder and could take years to fix, instead of somehow mustering the energy to deal with it at the time.”
“I wouldn’t doubt myself so much.”
“If I could go back, I would, because I miss the day of having all of my children under my roof.”
“I would have been less rigid. I had unrealistic expectations. I was too hard on him. In fact, I realized that and with my second child, I had swung to the other side of the pendulum and had a tendency to overexplain. I was always worried about being unfair. I created an environment of semantics in discipline, which was not good. If I could do it again I would use my experiences back then, and be more balanced in discipline.”
“My problem was not consistency in discipline. It was my example. I had a profession but was not saved. I was facing fears, doubts, and spiritual turmoil. I was not a good example. Success requires both.”
“I would spend a lot less time making my child happy. I was way too concerned about that. I would instead focus on teaching them life principles, training them to be hard workers, and managing their free time better.”
Thank you to all of the ladies that contributed. I know some of these things weren’t easy to share. It was a blessing to me, and I hope it is to all of my peers, as well. If something here helped or blessed you, let me know, and I will pass it along to the mom who wrote it.