Knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock, knock, KNOCK.
BAM! BAM! "Hey! Open up! I know you're there!"
Have you been on the locked side of the door when you KNOW that someone is there and they can hear you knocking? And they were even expecting you? Pretty frustrating!
I just discovered that I do this with my children. Not literally, so don't call CPS just yet! I don't leave them out in the 105-degree Texas heat, banging on the door, begging for entry into their own home. No, I just do it emotionally! (like that's any better?)
My children are depending on me to radiate love and acceptance into their lives. I am their mother - the nurturing force that feeds their little souls for a short time. I am training them to open their hearts to God and to listen for His voice - so they can learn to receive His love. But right now, they mainly receive His love through the filter of my love toward them.
I find myself getting so perturbed with children hanging off of me while I'm trying to accomplish a task or complete a thought or, God-forbid, type something on the computer. I have fallen into the bad habit of raising the fortress around my own heart when my children are requesting (a.k.a. demanding) my attention. Most mornings, I'll get the kids their breakfast, get them started on a book or a project or a TV show and then run into the office to work on stuff for a few minutes. If I'm lucky, I can have about 10 minutes of quiet....and then Graham's mommy-alarm goes off. Before I know it, both kids are in the office with me, spinning in the chairs, fighting with swords, yelling, laughing, asking me hundreds of questions...and my precious moments of quiet are over.
Are there lots of solutions to this problem? Yes. Have I tried several on the list? Yes. So, if nothing is working, the problem must be more than face-value. Here's what I'm learning from this pattern: when I focus on my kids and open my heart fully to them, I am peaceful, joyful and a whole lot of fun! When I brush my kids aside and try to focus on other things - even good things like paying bills, phone conversations, writing blog entries (!) - my heart becomes impenetrable to them and they crash into the stone walls I've thrown up. My problem is not my outward behavior or choice of focus...it is the condition of my heart.
By nature, I am a very black-and-white person. If I am operating in the default setting of my black-and-white-ness, I usually end up in a pickle...and this seems to be one of them. I have unknowingly (until now) shut my kids out of my love and acceptance when I am focusing on something else. Yikes! I WANT my children to come to me with their joys and successes. I WANT them to find love flowing from me that heals them when they are hurt or fearful. I deeply desire for their growing-up years to be a time full of love and peace in our home, and a time they look back on as adults with happy memories. Tim and I want to give them every advantage in the world of emotional health so that later in life, they will not struggle with who they are or who God is.
How do I know that I have closed my heart to my children? When they are violently competing for my attention, for my approval or my love. In my 6 year old and 2 year old, it usually looks like a temper tantrum, tears, or a crestfallen countenance. I forget how fragile their little hearts are - and it breaks my heart to know that I have hurt them. I have gotten very good at saying, "I'm so sorry! Mommy isn't trying to hurt your feelings, and I am very sorry if I did that. I love you and you're my favorite little boy/girl in the whole world!"
Of course, there are times when you cannot be completely absorbed in Little Kid World. It is valuable to train your children to have play time on their own so that you CAN accomplish things. But as you train them to be a little more independent, train your heart to stay open to those precious ones that are entrusted to you. And...in parallel, God's heart is never shut off from you. He never turns His heart away from you - and He's got the longest list of responsibilities EVER! He is always available to you and His love is not meted out to you based on His agenda for the day.
Just connecting the dots now....you are made in God's image. You bear His likeness and if you have given Him your heart, then your tendencies are to be like Him. It is totally possible for us to keep our hearts open to our children!! By the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, we can do it!
Oh, and a side-note to all you black-and-white thinkers out there: Being black-and-white is not bad! It is the way God wired you! Being black-and-white usually goes along with the motivational gift of prophecy (found in Romans 12:6) and only gets you in trouble when you are operating on your own fuel rather than the Holy Spirit's power in you. If you have the spiritual gift of prophecy, it means that you speak out truth. That truth and justice are huge to you. Just wanted to cast a clear light on being black-and-white!
The doors of my heart are open! Bring on the little kids!