I don’t know about my mom friends out there, but for me, toddler is a season of sanctification. Between flagrant disobedience, countless messes, and random emotional outbursts… my present period of purification looks and smells like baby poop stuck underneath my fingernails. Literally. It has happened twice now. It’s okay, you can gag, it’s totally cringe-worthy.
Anyways, it looks different to each of us, but be real for a minute and acknowledge that in the middle of a setback, failure, or grievance, walking the thing out isn’t tidy or pleasant. We’ve all had seasons of trial and exhaustion from life’s daily grind. Whether it’s a situation at work, family or marriage tension, financial strains, loneliness, school work piling up beyond what you think you can do, or even just overwhelming and sad feelings from watching the news; in our own ways, we’ve all been there; are there, or will be soon.
I don’t know what your season looks like, and before I continue, I feel it’s imperative to say that I don’t mean to minimize anyone’s struggles, or enhance mine. Some hard things still allow us to function normally while others leave us breathless, gasping for air as we nearly drown from grief and despair. I am not speaking to the latter things today. I wanted the title of Mom. I am blessed to work part-time outside the home. Brian and I willingly moved hours away from our hometown. So my occasional work stress, loneliness, and toddler angst is very different than a sudden death in the family or life-altering events that you had no control over.
But, in a time of non-life-shattering testing: If we can look at our situation and be fortified in our faith, it is exactly then the Lord can do a mighty work in us. Let’s not get sucked into the vortex of hurt or disappointment, but be cultivated by it. I only want to learn this particular lesson He has for me just one time!
Our flesh wants us to believe the lie our culture has fabricated that goes something like this: “I’m supposed to be happy and carefree! All the time! If I work hard enough, and am nice enough, isn’t it all just supposed to work itself out? Why hasn’t that already happened? Why am I trying so hard, only to fail?”
Yet, I feel the Lord tugging at my ear and saying: “No, my child, no. Dig into my words and use this verse as a reminder that I don’t promise blue skies day after day or a life perpetually in bloom. I am using this to make you wiser, stronger, and more patient. I love you enough to not leave you as you are.”
My circumstances are personal to me because we serve a personal God. 1 Corinthians 7:17 says “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” The Lord is using this toddler-tantrum-right-of-passage phase to refine my character in just the ways I need it. If I can yield whatever control I think I have to the Lord, there’s an opportunity for progress. As I study this idea, a couple new (but not necessarily novel) ideas have surfaced:
I am a steward of my circumstances.
I have a responsibility to be faithful to the Lord through the twists and turns of my life, whether or not I am perceived as successful.
I don’t want to let the paint splashes on the wall and 2 time-outs before 9AM become meaningless, or wish away the toddler years because they are irrational. Perhaps these specific scenarios have been put into play to call attention to hidden idols. If I want to move forward in growth, I need to address underlying issues. Why do I care so much about paint splashes? Why does it bother me so terribly when the quality of my work comes into question?
If I can be broken down by these questions, can I not also be built up by the process of purification the Father has for me?
Oh Lord, that I would not waste this opportunity for refinement by kicking and screaming all the way to the finish line.
I remember Beth Moore once saying, ‘Are you going to have a beautiful fight, or an ugly one?’ While yes, poopy fingernails are gross, that doesn’t mean my attitude needs to be. Just like I am trying* to train AG, the Lord is training us. When we climb the stairs by ourselves, He yanks us up and out of danger. When we run away at the furniture store, He comes after us. There will be uncomfortable conversations, but we can know that it is for our ultimate good.
When I am unfairly judged, I can love my coworkers and respond with grace. I can exercise patience while my child throws Goldfish down aisle 5. When I’m lonely, I can pick up the phone and encourage someone else.
I can work hard. I can be awfully nice. I can practice changing diapers with gratitude.
I cannot control the seasons of my life, but I can walk through them and be washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.