I am a mom of littles. My daughter Harper is 3 ½, Ellisyn is 2 ½, and my son Zeke is 2 months. Needless to say, I am in the throes of Motherhood. I just looked up the definition of “throe” to see if that was the correct word choice (it is the English teacher in me). According to a quick Google search, throes is a noun meaning “intense or violent pain and struggle, especially accompanying birth, death, or great change.” Yup, that sounds about right!
I am sometimes amazed at the sheer amount of times the words and phrase “No,” “Stop,” and “If you do that one more time there is going to be a consequence” comes out of my mouth. I look at the vast array of blocks, princess dresses, books, and crayons at the disposal of my girls and am dumbfounded that instead of enjoying these gifts to their full measure, they instead are constantly pushing the boundaries and deciding to use them opposite of their intended use. Is coloring on the wall really more fun than coloring in the coloring books? Must you smash the play dough into the hardwood floor crevices instead of rolling it into snakes and pretend food on the kitchen counter? Can you just enjoy wearing the Belle dress for now – instead of throwing a tantrum – and you can wear the Elsa dress when it is out of the wash? (and please, do not remind me that it has been in the wash for two weeks…)
Recently an interesting shift has taken place with my older daughter Harper. Instead of pushing the boundaries of how her toys are used, she has instead been asking permission for almost everything. “Is it okay if I share my Lamby with Ellie?” “Can I dance to ‘Let it Go’?” “Can I color this page, put away the markers, and then drink some water?” (Yes, she gets painfully specific). I have been finding myself telling her over and over “you don’t need to ask permission for that, sweetheart.” The simple pleasures of coloring in coloring books, dancing on open floors, and playing with dollies are not ones that require permission in our house.
While this has been a welcomed change from the previous stage of constant reprimands and re-directions, it is exhausting nonetheless. I wonder why my girls can not find a happy balance of simply enjoying the gifts and toys that they have. Somewhere in between coloring on the walls and asking for permission to color in a coloring book lies the simple joy of, well, coloring. Somewhere in between dancing by way of jumping off the couch and onto sleeping baby brother and asking permission to dance on the open floor is the thrill found in, you guessed it, simply dancing. I want my girls to freely enjoy their toddler activities and toys within their intended use.
I wonder if this is exactly what God thinks when he looks at me and all of the things he has given me “richly to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Galatians 5:1 reminds me “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Personally, I often find myself acting like my Harper. I love rules and the safety they provide. But sometimes I make decisions – yes, even good decisions – that are based on rules rather than on a heart that loves Jesus and wants the overflow of that love to result in good fruit.
When the Spirit is alive in us, we produce good fruit. This has been a truth that I have reminded myself of in my work with Freedom 4/24. I have asked myself “Why am I doing this?” Is it because it is something I feel like I have to do / should do otherwise God might punish me or be disappointed in me? Or is it something that I am compelled to do because of the Spirit working in me? If I function out of the first, I am working on an empty tank and everything that comes from me is of me and not of Christ.
But if I function out of the Holy Spirit’s work in me, He is the one who fills me and there can be no doubt that anything good that comes from me is a direct result of His work in and through me, a simple jar of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). Jesus set us free from the yoke of slavery (to the law) for FREEDOM. Many laws are good and are for our protection, but we have to keep them in check so that we fully enjoy the freedoms we have in Christ and aren’t constantly worried we’re doing the wrong thing or doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.
Only then will our lives joyfully bear the fruit that Galatians 5:22-23 mentions – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
-Christine Gelatt, Founder of Freedom 4/24