My goals lately seem to fall somewhere in the "getting it done" category. I know there are seasons in life when those are good goals to meet. Getting anything done well or right is a bonus. Just getting it done at all is good enough though. And being a homsechooling mom to 6 children 9 and younger, the youngest two both just babies, I've definitely found myself falling into that mode of just doing what works - even if it's not the best.
But as my Sweet Pea is hitting the four month mark (I know. It still shocks me to even say it out loud. Four months. Wow.) I find my little fog clearing just a bit and I can see that "good enough" isn't really good enough.
Much of this awareness has fallen on my house which is in a bit of a shambles. I've tried to soak up every moment of Sweet Pea's first weeks and months, and I know I won't regret that time one little bit! The clutter piled, the organization fell by the way side, and I'm so thankful school was out when it was or I don't know what I would have done! And all that's OK in my book. Messes will still be there to clean, books will still be there to read, but my baby won't be a baby for long, so I want to take as much time as possible to enjoy her as I can.
But - as I come out of my New Baby Fog - I am starting to see that my enjoyment of Sweet Pea has left me cutting corners in areas where I shouldn't be, and where I don't want to.
I guess over the past few days (maybe weeks) I've started to realize that my goals with my children have been much more behaviorally focused. Correcting bad behavior, reinforcing good behavior, the usual. And I do believe it is good to correct bad behavior and to encourage good behavior.
But the problem is that behavior has become the main focus.
And that is a big problem. Because we are all people - fallen, sinful people - young and old alike. And I don't want MY attention on behavior to be what my kids think it's all about. After all, isn't that why Jesus died? Because God knew our behavior would never be good enough? We could never earn our way to heaven. So that's why He chose the plan that He did - to show us just how much we need His grace.
So as of today, my goal will be my children's hearts. To see them. To know them. To win them. To keep them.
This has been a goal of mine before, but it's harder to stick to it than one might think. Getting stuff done often feels more important in any given moment. Changing their behavior rather than their inward heart is a lot easier, to be honest.
But as I write all this, and as I ponder these thoughts I believe God has revealed to me, it occurs to me that when I focus on their hearts as God does - focusing on the heart of a man rather than on his outward appearance the way men do (see 1 Samuel 16:7) then their behavior will likely improve anyway. I'm going about it all wrong by making that the focus. I'm too tired to bring to mind any vivid analogies, but there are many (even in the Bible there are many!) out there to make the point that painting over the surface does nothing if the inside is missed.
So I am praying for God's help to see my children's hearts, to know them and to keep them. I want to be close to them, not just in charge of them. And I know this will challenge me. And I know it'll make other goals (like getting the house in order, for one, or finding any down time for myself in the day) much harder to meet. But I really do feel that God is calling me to do this right now.
So there it is. My new goal as a mother. It's not really even new at all. I'm just seeing my same goals in a different light, and seeing how my actions have not been in line with my heart's desire for our family. And how in my efforts to help my children behave better, and encourage them in Christian ways, I might be driving them away from a relationship with Christ rather than towards one by putting too much focus on behavior and outward appearance. I just pray that it's not too late and that God in His wisdom and grace will help me to do better, and that my children will love me enough to forgive my mistakes. And that I can be the mom God wants me to be. And the mom my children want and need me to be, too. I haven't much idea how to get there myself. I keep doing it all backwards. So this one will most definitely take divine intervention!
I'm very thankful that God is still in the business of answering prayers. ;o)