I exchanged emails with one of my wonderful sister-in-laws and she was briefly sharing with me the adjustment that she is undergoing with the addition of her second little baby girl. Oh, how I remember how challenging it was to care for just one baby and myself. Then, when the second came along, i remember thinking, "Why did I ever think just ONE was tough?" That really is how life is for me: in each new phase of life, the Lord is preparing me for something bigger, more challenging, but also more rewarding. In light of her email, partnered with some recent news we got around our house, I got philosophical really fast. It was good medicine for my soul to put things in some new terms. I don't think she will mind if I share with you the words I wrote to her, as they could be an encouragement to others. At the very least, I need to read them a few more times, myself.
"Parenting and marriage, and LIFE really is a process of shedding the skin of our youth and replacing it with new skin that is more mature, less self-focused. And with each new phase of life, I feel like I shed another layer of skin and beneath it is revealed something more Christ-like. That newer skin is less selfish, more compassionate, patient, and persevering. I think of the kind of parent I was nearly 7 years ago, and the kind of wife I was ten years ago, and am so thankful for the work the Lord has done in my life.
"I honestly never like the shedding process, and I always think that the skin I have now is just fine, but on the other side of the process, when the painful shedding process is over and done with and I see what new thing Christ has done in me, the skin I newly find myself in is a closer reflection of how Christ wants me to look.
"In each phase, I have the choice to “lean into the wind” and embrace the challenge, in order to become the Mom and wife I am called to be, or I can wail against it and be blown away, leaving me embittered, resistant, and no wiser. I have to be honest that I often times spend too much time fighting against the change, wishing that I could somehow escape from the current parenting or life situation. But deep inside, I know that is not going to be the best for me or my family. So I lean in and embrace."
I continued in my email to my Sister-In-Law, "I know you are encountering situations that are exponentially harder than you have encountered in the past, but I encourage you to lean into it, embrace where the Lord has placed you right now and allow him to do a work in your heart and in your family. I really think that is why we are allowed to be parents: to grow us up. And we have all sat on the floor and cried right alongside a wailing infant and a tantrum-ing toddler. It is a miserable place to be. But God (I love those two words) will give you the wisdom for each situation if you ask for it. That has gotten me through so many endless days. I pray you will find the same measure of grace and help!"
Of course today I am looking with some trepidation at the new skin the Lord might be revealing as we face a new challenge in life. I am thankful for the opportunities He allows into our lives to show us that He is Faithful. I cling to the promise that the Lord will carry on to completion the work that He began in us.