Tuesday, January 21, 2014

don't give up on me, mama ...

i was standing in line at the grocery store when i heard the exchange.
seems to me, that happens a lot.
probably ...
#1 because i am waiting and still and, therefore, listening.
#2 because i am in the grocery store way too much.

but that's where it happened.

i was in line behind a woman and her young son when the cashier -- a kindly, older lady -- brought out a lollipop for the little boy. a lollipop which he gladly and quickly accepted. in fact, he swiped that sucker right out of her hand and jammed it right into his ready mouth without missing a beat and, sadly, without one word of thanks.

i assure you, the boy was old enough to say, "thank you."

the mother, looking a tad bit embarrassed -- but not too surprised -- encouraged her son to use his manners. "say, thank you, evan." but evan refused. and instead continued to chomp loudly on his lollipop, all the while completely ignoring both mother and cashier. stubbornly. willfully.

i wasn't judging. really i wasn't. i've been that mother. i felt for her.
but what happened next is the thing which most captured my attention; caught hold of my heart.

glancing from the cashier to me, the mother exclaimed,"well, i give up. i've tried to teach him his manners. it just isn't working. i'm done. i give up!"

"i give up!" --- really?
the boy was about five. seemed to me there were a lot of years ahead for this kid and his mama.

in my mind, it might be just a tiny bit early to throw in the towel.

it took everything in me to keep from following the woman out to her car and pleading with her not to give up. i wanted to urge her instead to go ahead and remove that lollipop from her son's mouth and march all three feet of him back in to offer his thanks. i wanted to tell her to take a stand, to be firm, to refuse to accept anything less from this little boy than what she knew in her heart was right behavior.

i know ... can. you. even. imagine? she'd of been dialing 9-1-1 on me before i finished my first sentence.

you'll be glad to know, i refrained. but walking to my own car with groceries in hand ... i felt her heaviness.

i didn't want to criticize her, i wanted to encourage her.
i wanted to to let her know, we all feel like that as mamas.
we wonder if we're making any progress.
we wonder if anything we say is sinking in.
we doubt somedays they're even listening.

but don't give up.
don't ever give up.

don't ever be afraid to take the lollipop or the whatever away and stand your ground.

not when they're 5, and not when they're 15.

oh, mama of the rude boy or the rebellious girl or the resistant daughter or the restless son ... don't give up. don't ever give up.

there's time. and there's always hope.

God didn't give up on us. not when we were rude or ruined or running fast away. and yes, we've all been exactly that. let's learn our parenting-perseverance from the most patient Father. the perfect Father who perfectly loves His imperfect people -- His children.

"but God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  ~ romans 5:8

did you catch that phrase? while we were still sinners ... sinners. yep, you and me. not perfectly behaved little children with perfectly polished manners, but imperfect little sinners.
that's us. and that's our kids and that's this world we live in right now.

and yet ... we have this amazing God ... who, though had every right to throw up His hands and declare, "i give up!" He didn't. He stuck with us. He sticks with us. and, what's more, He even sent His Son to die for us.


oh, sweet mama who is feeling like she'll never see the fruit of her labor ...
oh, dear mother who is feeling like she's tried every trick in the book ...
oh, tired woman who isn't sure what else to do or where else to turn ...

this post today is for you.

i know you might be close to throwing your hands in the air or turning your back on the child or walking away from the battle ...

i know. because i've been there.

and though i didn't do anything to encourage that woman in the grocery store ... i want to encourage you ---

don't give up.
don't ever give up.

there's time. there's hope. there's Jesus.

"and let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, 
if we do not give up." ~ galatians 6:9


Lori said...

Thank you SO much for this post today...
Just what this momma needed. As I read your post, tears were flowing down my face. I pray everyday that I never give up on my 29 year son. Pray that God opens his eyes and heart once again. God guides him back in the right path...


jodymcnatt said...

oh lori ... i don't know the story of your 29 year old son, but i know other sons -- teenage and adult -- who have broken their mama's hearts. i've seen how grown children can continue cause great anguish for their parents. BUT lori, i've also seen adult children come back to full and complete restoration in their faith and with their families. as i wrote this piece, i thought several times about how these words weren't just for mothers with young ones, but for all mothers. everywhere. with children of all ages. much love and courage and perseverance to you, sweet friend.

Julie said...

Lori, I have a 22 yo prodigal that has chosen the more difficult road. Today he sent me this video and said it was the best video he has ever seen. I totally believe God ius working and will stand in faith with you for our boys.


Sarah said...

As the mother of two, 14 months apart, I share your empathy...been there, done that! I look back on those early years with my children and think it really wasn't so hard, but rereading my journals tells another tale! Now as I struggle with learning to let go of my 19 and 20 yr olds, many days I could choose to just give up. After all, the raising is all but done, right? And this letting go is hard stuff! Very. Hard. Stuff. Thanks for the encouragement to stick with it, and the reminder that God is the only example I need to be following!

CaitlinandBrad said...

Thank you. I am trying to write my kids story for their dedication this weekend. You just helped me tremendously. My son (3) struggled so much when his sister came home from China. There were times I wanted to throw in the towel but I kept hearing The Lord say "I will redeem" and he did. Your story is a great parallel to us mom's following The Lord and never giving up.

Kristy said...

Amen, amen, amen to this post. There were times in our journey when I wanted to give up, when I almost lost hope, when I thought things hopeless. But God had a bigger plan. God knew the ending before we could ever see any changes. And He was faithful. He brought beauty out of the ashes. Never give up!

jodymcnatt said...

well, because my "comment form" works only about 25% of the time ... i can't seem to reply directly to each of ... but wanted you to know i am reading your comments and love them all. love your stories and your courage and your complete surrender to Him! and julie, i'm going to have to share that you tube video -- so powerful! thank you for posting. xoxo

Anonymous said...

Quite honestly Jody I haven't read any of your stuff. At all. Sorry but I just see what you can see on facebook and don't open it up to read further. For some reason today I did. Last night my sweet 12 year old daughter was replaced with an identical evil twin for a few hours. I may have even actually vocalized the words, "I Give UP!". But this morning she kissed me on her way to the bus and told me she loved me and I had had such a heavy heart all night. This post feels like it was written just for me. Thank you for this today. I will make me a better and more patient mother and wife. For today at least.

Jen said...

Loved this, Jody!! Just---spot on. Well said, beautifully written. xoxo

Lori said...

Jody and Julie, thank you for your encouraging words...
Julie, for some reason, I was unable to open your post