Growing in Grace, Motherhood

Love Is

At 6:41 a.m., love is patient.

He is patient with me as I press “snooze” on my phone alarm once, then twice, finally a third time. He waits as I check my email, scroll social media, and sip my coffee before finally pulling out his Word. He does not hold my tardiness against me but welcomes me into his presence.

I haven’t even read a page when my daughter wakes early from a nightmare and wants to cuddle in bed while I finish my time in his Word. At first, I’m frustrated—delayed by my own distraction and then by my daughter’s early waketime—then I remember my Father’s patience. I take a deep breath and pull my daughter’s body closer to me.

At 7:33 a.m., love is kind.

My daughter requests a song as I get dressed, and I turn on our favorite worship song. We sing the words together, “Before our hearts forget all Your goodness / Satisfy us with Your love.” I feel a peace overwhelm me on this already imperfect Monday morning, his kindness meeting my every need and even some of my desires—down to the warm slippers on my feet.

My son cries for more milk while my daughter demands chocolate chips in her oatmeal. “Wait a minute,” I snap, rushing to fixing my own breakfast. I stop my frantic hurry as I remember his loving kindness towards me, steadfast amidst my own needy cries. I pull the bag of chocolate chips out of the pantry and delight in giving my daughter her favorite breakfast treat.

At 9:05 a.m., love does not envy or boast.

He reminds me he is a jealous God—not tolerating the idols of my heart—both pride and self-condemnation. When I’m tempted toward either extreme, his Spirit prompts me to remember his glory and greatness, his grace and goodness. In his love, he reveals and breaks down my idols to draw me back to himself.

My heart turns green as my son’s crayon while I scroll and tap through Instagram. Why does this mom have it so easy? How did she accomplish what I want to do so much? My son throws the crayon, and I turn from my envious scrolling. I look at the work set before me—the laundry, the coloring, the kissing of booboos. I choose contentment, knowing this is the work of love God has set before me.

At 11:39 a.m., love is not arrogant or rude.

I resist the Spirit’s prompting, choosing instead to stay frustrated with my unruly children as I tried to load them into the car for a playdate. He was persistent, yet gentle, calling me to repentance for my rude demeanor. I grip the steering wheel and exhale. The sovereign Creator of the universe condescends to my messy mundane life. He cares about the frustrations. He lovingly leads me through them.

We stand three feet from each other, pushing our children in infant swings while our toddlers race around the playground. Something she says rubs me the wrong way, throwing salt into the wound of my own insecurity. I feel the urge to make a passive aggressive remark, or even more, to leave the playground all together. Yet the Father reminds me to give her the benefit of the doubt, to ask her for clarification, and to show the same enduring love he showed me.

At 2:32 p.m., love does not insist on its own way.

The house is at last quiet, and I return to the cozy chair in my bedroom corner where my Bible has laid open since this morning. I read again in Philippians 2, how Jesus gave up everything—his own place in heaven, his own comfort, even his life—to demonstrate his love for me. I’m both convicted and comforted by the love of a Savior who would come down to us.

“Why won’t you stay asleep,” I growl at the baby monitor. Teething keeps my son from his normal long nap—and keep me from my coveted margin time to work and write. He stands up in his crib, cries growing louder, and I’m tempted to throw the monitor across the room. Instead, I hear the pain in his tears, and I choose to leave the comfort of my own room to go to him.

At 5:44 p.m., love is not irritable or resentful.

The warmth of my afternoon prayer time has long chilled in the evening witching hour. I feel guilty for the harsh word spoken over an accidental spill, the quick click of a remote to remove the stress of motherhood, the many times I have chosen to scroll over being present. My spiral into shame is stopped by the Spirit’s comfort that the Father is not frustrated by my disobedience. Rather, his arms are open for me to fall wearily into his strength.

It’s another meal by myself, and I struggle not to get irritated that my husband must stay late at work, leaving me to dish up another round of dinosaur nuggets by myself. My husband bursts in at the end of the meal, and I want to clock out and let him take over the role of parent. Yet I see the tiredness in his eyes as well, and I put aside my resentment, and welcome him home with a hug and kiss.

At 7:06 p.m., love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

I close out the kitchen—starting the dishwasher, wiping the counters, and queuing up the coffee pot for the morning. My eyes fall on the to-do list, most items left unchecked and forgotten. I sigh, remembering all the ways I failed that day. I look at the bottom of the list, where I scribbled a verse I had read that morning. His loving truth overcomes the lies that tell me I am what I do.

My feet stomp heavy around the house, and I yell for the one thousandth time, “Finish picking up your toys, please!” I’m ready for the day to end, for a moment of peace, and I try to skip our evening family worship. Yet my daughter’s request to read her “special book” brings me back to the present. Rather than draining me, I rejoice as we read, sing, and pray God’s Word all together.

At 9:35 p.m., love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

When I at last fall into bed, I remember how the Father’s love sustained me that day. How his love allowed me to bear the burdens of my family, believe his truth rather than the lies of my inner critic, hope for the best in my children’s motivations, and endure the hard parts of the day. I’m comforted knowing that every hard day will eventually come to an end. This hard season will one day end. But love—it’s the one thing that will never end.

As the Father loved the Son, so he has loved me (John 15:9). And as God has loved me, so I can love my husband, my children, my friends, my community, and even strangers. While the definitions of love in 1 Corinthians 13 might be most commonly quoted at weddings, it is most lived out in our daily, mundane work. While love may look like a well-written card, a thoughtful gift, or time away, there is no greater love than laying down our lives for others (John 15:13). And there’s no way we can do that unless we abide in the love of Jesus, who set the example of what love truly looks like.

What does love look like in your everyday life?

This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Love Looks Like”.

3 thoughts on “Love Is”

  1. Bethany, I was SO inspired (and convicted) from your recent blog. Loved how you walked through your day using 1 Corinthians 13. Oh, how I remember feeling just what you described when our two children were little. It was a hard, but wonderful time in my life of being a mom. Even though we’re “empty nesters”, I still struggle with distractions, frustrations, selfish attitudes, and discontentment at times. Thank you for reminding me that our Lord Jesus is ever present, He understands, cares, intervenes, encourages, and loves ALWAYS. Blessings to you!

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