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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Macaroni Epiphany

I wrote a while ago about how I groan at the approach of Mother’s Day (or any day where the kids would supposedly be ‘honoring’ me) because some of my kids aren’t exactly thrilled to be living here. They reject me as their mother and balk at anyone who would try to tell them any different. I often do get a card from my husband with the kids’ signatures, but I don’t every really feel joy over that card because I know it was done in protest. What I do cherish are the hand-made cards from some of the kids who do it without prompting or coercion. These are never as fancifully colored or as symmetrical as the store cards, but they are much more valuable to me because they are presented in love.

Lately I have been pondering the service we offer Adonai. In the process of that pondering, I had an epiphany. What I had always known as ‘worship’ was similar to the store-bought card, and that I participated out of obligation but did not really feel with my whole being. Part of it was that I felt like I was nodding my head to someone else’s sacrifice rather than presenting my own. I tried to mimic that worship at home, thinking the problem was that I needed to be alone with the Father when I presented my offering. I was half right. I did need to be alone with Him daily, but I was using the formula others used and it was not from my heart. In desperation, I prayed that the Rauch HaKodesh would direct me so that I could find the way I was meant to come before the throne. What I found surprised me.

First, it was to be personal. If every one of my kids stopped by to visit me in my room and they all participated in the exact same conversation as the last, I would wonder what kind of repetitious nonsense they had planned. It would also prevent us from becoming close one-on-one because each has different interests and personalities. When I spend time alone with my kids, I want to get into the things that are uniquely them. Sure, there will always be overlap. They are all still of school age, so that is a common conversation, but each is in a different place of learning as has different strengths and weaknesses. Where one needs encouragement in math, another is way ahead in math but struggles with reading. I need to make my time with the Father uniquely ours.

Secondly, I realized yet again that he does not want my worship because it is of any value. Nothing I am is great. All my righteousness is as filthy rags. So why does He want my worship? Why does He desire that I seek Him? It is because He loves me and wants nothing more than for me to love Him back. He doesn’t want the pompous offering or the grand display- he wants my macaroni service. He wants me to realize just who He is and to desire Him. That is what is appealing to Him about my messes- that they are my heart-felt attempt to please Him.

The Mother’s Day card signed by kids who have no desire to sign it is worthless to me. Worship done out of obligation instead of adoration is worthless to YHVH. It doesn’t mean I still don’t desire for those kids to one day have the desire to make me a macaroni necklace or a tissue-paper heart. It just means that the coerced offerings in the mean time are of no use. When I saw it in light of my own situation, I realized I was trying to ‘get points’ by doing something without feeling it. And I am the one fond of saying “He doesn’t give out points for attendance”. Just like my kids are learning, when you offer something without meaning it, you can’t truly expect t to be received with joy. He knows that I am so much like those kids, and that is why He sent them to me. Our lives are a constant reflection of my approach to Adonai and he is constantly placing that mirror in my face. When I cry out for my children to want me back, I understand the cries of a Holy God to His stiff-necked children. When I wonder at how they could still reject me after all I have gone through for them, I think about a Father who made the greatest sacrifice ever and has it thrown back in his lap on a daily basis.

I love the macaroni offerings because they are real. The Father loves my fumbling attempts to honor Him because they are the ones that are really from my heart.


laurie said...

Beautiful and insightful. Hope this deeper understanding strengthens you on the difficult days.

Swylv said...

so using a prayer siddur would be offensive? what about if you felt led to use such prayers, then they would be done out of obedience not obligation.
I pray all your children's hearts are softened to you and accepting you as their mom. I've said it before a mom is not just someone who gives birth to you, she's the one who is there for you and loves you each and every day.

motherofmany said...

I have no problem with the prayer siddur at all. My issue has always been trying to make it from my heart and not rote. It was the same with reading the scriptures. I did it because I knew I should. But I wasn't feeling it. That's why I prayed for a change of heart, to make the scriptures personally mine and not just collective. I think they need to be both.

I certainly enjoy group gifts from the children, and store bought cards, when the feeling behind them is genuine. The problem is always the motivation, whether it is their gifts to me or my gifts to the Father. Is it out of love or obligation?

Berean Wife said...

I agree. Reading the Bible in order to mark it done on the list is one thing. But reading it through the day when you know there is other work to be done, but you want to, is totally different.

Many attend church worship services in the same way - as long as something better doesn't come along, like a trip to the lake.