Most of us, myself included, want stability at all costs. We avoid and remove all pain whenever possible. Until heaven or His coming, though, we are called to follow in all His footsteps, and His steps (1 Peter 2:21) knew both joy and suffering. Though we will never bear the full extent of suffering He did, we will walk our own road after His.
In the Hebrew, the word endure is made up of two words that literally mean to “abide under” (Strongs). Thankfully, we do abide under God’s beautiful, tender blessings, like dew in the morning that comes to softly kiss the earth. But, we also abide under the hard. The challenge is to do it all—abide in whatever ways He is calling us to, be they full or sparse, sparkling or dark.
One of the most intense ways He calls us to abide under is with others in relationship. This enduring with one another is one of the most amazing ways we reflect Him and show the world who He is. In my relationships, enduring has been both joyous and difficult, depending on what kind of road I am walking. The times that He has poured out Himself in fellowship with my husband, children, and friends have been some of the sweetest I have ever known. It is like a pool of grace He gives to cool ourselves off from this difficult world.
But, even with these amazing people I just mentioned, enduring can be difficult, as well. For, in our families and with our friends, we still rub up against the humanity of one another, that pesky flesh with which we all still wrestle. It is there that I want to sit with you today.
Though every relationship calls me to endure lovingly, I want to share about parenting today. I have found that living and breathing enduring love while parenting requires immense discipline of spirit. Parenting seems easy when all is going well, but to take the time in the hardest moments to breathe and pray so that I can respond and not react is bone-deep hard.
It is so difficult because I sometimes am immature and choose to let my emotions reign instead of His Spirit. When struggle ensues because of tiredness, squabbles, disrespect, being controlling, and so on (in either them, me, or all of us), I have a choice to make the pain stop via decree and top-down authority, or I can seek His direction before I act. I can abide under and then move forward, or I can avoid it through my attempts to control the situation. Control, though, never gets to my heart or my kids’ heart or His heart.
Yet, as any parent eventually realizes, the shaping and shepherding of souls is not a recipe we can manufacture. It is only a surrender I can live. This awareness and shift in my spirit is a journey I am joyfully on, for I want to be the best shepherd I can be, not just make my life more comfortable or my children more compliant.
Compliant children is my short-term aim when my heart just wants peace and the appearance of ease. But, down deep, I am insatiably hungry for His heart to change us in our depths, with me first in line and first in need. When I do that and abide under with my children, He is given the grace and space to mold us all in His ways as we grow together in our walk on this earth.
I am so thankful for the joy that my kids so deeply and effortlessly bring to my life just by being them and the amazing images of God He made them. They truly are some of His most precious gifts to me!! Abiding under is often so effortless in those magical times of communion. But, I am becoming more and more grateful for the broken in us all that reminds me (and I hope one day them when they look back!) how much I and they need a Savior. And, this, too, is a beauty they bring to my life that is both costly and precious.
This is what enduring together looks like. It looks like abiding under, not sweeping under. It is staying near and not leaving in the hard. It is getting to the heart and not just outwardly appearances. It is battling together through victories and defeats, knowing all is somehow leading us to Him. For, He is the Giver of every victory and the only Succor that will ever meet our need.
This all calls for a bravery that is humbling. To love truly and as best we can this side of heaven, honestly, and in every season, is none other than cruciform living.
As we live out this surrendered, cruciform love in both the highs and lows together, may we be the living embodiment of this verse to all we encounter—“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:15) May our abiding under with each other leave the indelible, exquisite, costly fragrance of Him wherever we walk.