A couple weeks ago, we had one of our worst homeschooling days ever. I am withholding most of the details of this out of respect for my children, but let’s just say it was bad. The plan actually had been to take the day off of school and go to the doctor (prenatal appointment) and shop for items for Aidan and Jonathan’s new shared bedroom. But before we could get out the door, we had brothers fighting and a toddler into mischief, and I ended up making the decision to scrap all the plans and stay home. (The doctor’s appointment wasn’t vital, and sometimes character training needs to take first priority. This was one of those days.)

I knew when we started our Kindness in Action devotions that the hardest part was going to be working on loving each other sacrificially. It’s easy to love each other when we’re being lovable. Anyone can do that! But to be able to overlook a rude comment, a selfish action, or yet another interruption out of a desire to love someone else… that’s hard.

Motherhood and Sacrificial Love

And not just for kids – it’s hard for moms too.

In Titus 2:4-5, the older women are commanded to encourage the younger women to love their husbands and children. Have you ever thought about the implications of that? Why do we need to be encouraged in love? I mean, they’re our kids – don’t we love them automatically?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized that it’s easy to serve my children, but harder to love them. Every day, despite being 7 months pregnant, I haul laundry up and down the stairs and put meals on the table and dress people and wipe up peanut butter faces and take diapers out to the trash. I’m tired, but I just do it because I know that at this stage in my life, my time is going to be primarily consumed with taking care of people. In fact, I honestly wasn’t frustrated the other week when we had to give up our plans to get out of the house and shop for bedroom items. I know that character training comes first.

But I didn’t exactly approach the day with a loving spirit.

One of the passages that we have studied this month is 1 Corinthians 13. The first three verses say, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

Paul is discussing all sorts of ministry opportunities that are worthless if performed apart from love. As moms our primary ministry is in our homes as we love and serve our husbands and children. As I thought about this passage, I realized that it really can be applied like this…

“If I teach math and how to read and how to behave and how to get along with people, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of organization and put meals on the table and clean clothes in the drawers and finish most of my checklist by the end of the day, but do not have love, I am nothing…”

Kind of a sobering thought, huh?

So what is the solution? Choosing to do all things in love. Praying for help and then taking a step toward obedience. Moving from being task-oriented to people-oriented. And making the choice to actually love the unlovable, not just remind him to feed his pet or pick up his shoes off the floor yet again. After all, love involves action, and not just feeling! I’ve been discovering that when I choose to hug the contrary child that the feelings actually do follow. It becomes easier to love when I just make the choice to start doing it, and often, the unlovable transforms into quite a different child.

After all, God does exactly the same thing for me, except that He does it perfectly. I don’t deserve to be His beloved child, and yet I am by His grace.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 5:1-2, emphasis added

How about you? Do you sometimes find yourself going through the tasks of the day without showing love? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

P.S. – We did the Kindness in Action devotions for the month of February to go with the Valentine’s Day theme, but there is nothing inherently “Valentines” about them. If you and your family would enjoy doing a study of what God has to say about loving Him and loving others, be sure to check them out!

13 Comments

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  1. JJ Feb 26, 2014

    I was feeling like I was having to fuss at my 7 1/2 year old son all.the.time for not doing things "right". At the same time I was constantly overlooking everything "wrong" that the 1 1/2 year old son did. It's easy to hug and hold and kiss the "baby", the big boy, however, is too busy most of the time. I started holding his hand at church. I randomly kiss his head as he walks by. I started doing the dishes WITH him. What a difference I have seen, not in him as much as in me. :o)

    Reply
    1. Sarah Feb 27, 2014

      That is SO easy to do! The baby is easy to love, the big kids... it can get harder. But those big kids really notice when we make the effort to tell them how much we love them!

      Reply
  2. Susan Feb 27, 2014

    What a great post! I was just thinking how mean all my kids were being with each other and wondering what is going on here. I immediately thought about your Kindness in Action kit that I got but never used in FEB. I'm going to have to get some ink for the printer and get to work. And I love how you changed the words in 1 Cor:13 for our everyday tasks. I'm the one that needs an attitude adjustment!

    Reply
  3. Bethany Feb 27, 2014

    You are definitely NOT alone! It's way too easy to go about our daily tasks without extending love to those little ones around us. I am guilty of that all the time. Thank you so much for this timely and gentle reminder!

    Reply
  4. Nicky Feb 27, 2014

    Oh goodness! You are NOT alone! I am so thankful that God brought this to you to share right now. I definitely needed a reminder. I especially like your application of 1 Corinthians 13.
    Thank you for sharing!

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  5. [email protected] Measured Mom Feb 27, 2014

    Well written as always, Sarah. I can so relate to this post. One of my friends told me something from Love & Logic that she says when her son tries to pick a fight with her: "I love you too much to argue with you." I tried it today with my defiant 3 year old and I felt much calmer and more loving (I didn't lose my cool either).

    But I admit that hauling laundry up and down the stairs 7 months pregnant made me just MAD a few months ago! Hang in there :)

    Reply
  6. Sherra Feb 27, 2014

    You aren't alone. I hadn't thought of it that way but yes it is two different things a showing love IS different than service. Good post. Glad to find you too through this Pin on Pinterest :)

    Reply
  7. Melissa Deming Feb 27, 2014

    Just wanted to say thank you for being so honest! Sometimes I read posts by Christian women and everything looks so rosy and lovely and tidy. Motherhood is hard - not because of what it demands of our hands but what it requires of our hearts. So thank you for saying that. We've loved using your Kindness in Action devotions so much! We missed a few days here and there and now while we travel. But since they aren't valentine's themed, we can still finish them up when we return home. Be encouraged!

    Reply
  8. Sue Feb 27, 2014

    I was 'wandering' through Pinterest looking for Minute to Win It games for our co-op when I came across your page. I have looked through page after page of awesome inspiring activities to do with the kids. It has been quite a horrible day around the house today with my 4 yr old and 2 yr old. They faught each other and me all day, up to screaming and crying and running out of bed multiple times tonight. I felt like a failure. I am so thankful to The Lord for finding this post. I caused a lot of the problems today. I was not 'present' with the kids. I was not showing love to them. I was too busy pointing out all the wrongs, all the chores, all the headaches. Why didn't I stop and show more love? They are beautiful, loving, and perfectly flawed children, as God intended. Yes, my son is hyper active and scattered. He's also the most loving child I've ever met, as smart as can be (on the gifted spectrum), and outgoing. I love him and yet didn't show it today when I was angry at him for loosing his new books and having a destroyed room. I need to love him through it. Yes, my 2 yr old daughter is loud, stubborn, runs off in the store, fights me at bed time, draws all over herself with markers.... But she is also the most beautiful, funny, independent child I've ever known. I am blessed to have her as mine. Why did I not show her that today? I needed to read your article today more than anything else I could do today (after praying of course). I vow to make tomorrow better. I vow to refocus my mind and heart on showing love to my beautiful, loving children. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Christina Feb 28, 2014

    Convicting! And needed! We had a similar school day recently. You are right, it can be easier to serve than to love. Thanks for this!

    Reply
  10. Rhonda Feb 28, 2014

    Thank you for your honesty here. Yes, Christ was people-centered, wasn't he? I've heard people say that they always love their kids, but on some days, they just don't like them very much. But I have to say, if I'm not speaking to and treating my children with kindness and out of love (and all the other actions listed in Scripture as love), then I'm not really loving them.

    It also helps me to remember that ultimately, my children are the Lord's. And I need to glorify Him in raising them, and in setting an example. Yes, I fail miserably at times.

    Reply
  11. Mary Catherine Mar 1, 2014

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. First, for being so honest and open. Second, for helping point my mind and my heart in the right direction. I struggle with this, as well.

    Reply
  12. Nancy Mar 17, 2014

    I'm so happy I stumbled on your blog. It's funny, this is EXACTLY what Sunday's sermon was about. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Lamaze Nov 2, 2014

    Happenstance... We are so different and yet, so alike...I live overseas, I have three children, older than yours, I am a teacher (this is probably why I came to read your posts), and I am not a religious person at all. Lately I realized that I expected my children to read between my lines, and see my love through my actions, as if succeeding in having an empty laundry basket was the ultimate proof of love. Truth was, that I had mistaken: as I reached my limits, instead of simply accepting that my household wasn't as tidy as when I wasn't single, I used the energy I had on that, and felt frustrated, when my youngest boy started to avoid physical contact with me. I wondered why: was he too old, already? Was I grumpy? Truth is that part of me wanted to be thanked, and it never came, and I wasn't exactly kind. You are so right, to point out that taking care doesn't mean "to love", (and being thanked, has nothing to do with being loved back). There has to be more than that. I wondered what I could do. And again, you came to my rescue: the projects you share are a perfect way, to share real "everyday" moments with my children; I believe my little one feels my love, when I suggest we built a lego candy dispenser, because it's 100% "about him", see? Alors...Merci beaucoup!

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