Dirty diapers. Frequent feedings. Sleepless nights. When preparing for parenthood, does anyone mention how exhausting it is? I honestly felt as if I was a walking zombie during those times while lugging around half of my house in a diaper bag to appointments and shopping. When covered in spit up and listening to incessant crying, my weariness would make me wish for the next stage of childhood when things would be “easier”.
It’s funny though because as much as I struggled during those early years, I find myself now thinking those days were a walk in the park! Dealing with choices that children make as pre-teens and teenagers, along with their “lovely” attitudes, I feel as if gray hairs have been sprouting like weeds. My days are now filled with discussions about foolish versus wise decision making and attitude adjustments.
What I wouldn’t do to sterilize some bottles right now! My parental responsibilities seemed much simpler when my children were babies. But who am I kidding? Every season of parenting has its own challenges, so I need to quit despising the present one I’m in.
When I think about my kids as babies, their precious smiles, first words, and meeting their milestones brightened my days instantaneously. How I loved cradling them in my arms and watching them sleep! Likewise, as I reflect on my children in their adolescent years, their thoughtfulness, love for God and others, and how they use their gifts for God leaves me in awe and joy.
Whatever season we find ourselves in, the temptation is to focus on the challenges and struggles rather than the joys and gladness we experience. The Bible says that “The joy of the Lord is my strength” in Nehemiah 8:10. That’s not applicable only when we feel things are going great, but during the bumps and bruises as well. The reality is that while we may feel physically exhausted or emotionally drained, it’s not permanent. Before we know it, this season will pass and we’ll be in the next one. So we can either wish away each stage we’re in, missing out on the blessings before us or we can enjoy each moment with hearts full of gratitude for each blessing.
I’m reminded of the Israelites during the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. While it was a difficult period in their lives, God was with them and provided for them sending manna and quail for them to eat from Heaven! Sure, it wasn’t a five course meal at the best steakhouse, but they never lacked and before you know it, they were led to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” and verse 11 (my favorite!) reminds us that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Wherever you find yourself today, choose joy for the present moment through the good, bad, and ugly. Next season will have its own good, bad, and ugly so may our hearts be filled with praise today and see His beauty all around us. Today is a gift.