This post is pretty heavy on the Jesus. Consider yourselves warned.

Finding Joy in the Thankless

A few weeks ago, I read this guest post by Lisa Morguess on the Scary Mommy blog called, “Motherhood: The Big, Fat F**k You.” (Warning: link contains strong language and a middle finger shot.) I might not have chosen the same language as Morguess, but I could definitely relate to her feelings.

Morguess starts out talking about how she lost it on her daughter — completely and totally lost it. She took out all of her anger and frustration on her daughter over something that was relatively minor. I wish I could say that I’ve never had a similar moment, but I know I’ve had more than one. Here’s the most recent:

It was a Sunday morning, and I was trying to get the boys out the door for church.  My husband wasn’t going with us, so it was just the boys and me, and they were working it to their advantage. Whining about how they didn’t want to go, smacking each other, throwing fits over the outfits I selected and the TV show I put on…it was awful. No matter what I tried to do, they fought me. I ended up giving my oldest Cheetos for breakfast, because I didn’t want to listen to him whine anymore. I was at my breaking point.

I managed to somehow herd the monsters to the car, and after I strapped them into their car seats I realized that the oldest had Cheeto stains all over his face. I couldn’t send him into church with the evidence of my horrible parenting all over his face, could I? So I ask him to hold still while I wiped his mouth. He started freaking out because he wanted to do it himself. Well, if you have a young child, you know that when you ask him to wipe his face, he will inevitably just smear the mess around and make things worse. So I said no. He screamed and wiggled and dodged my attempts. I sighed. We were late for church. I was tired. And I was angry.

And I lost it.

“YOU WILL SIT STILL AND SHUT UP AND LET ME WIPE YOUR FACE RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL BE SORRY!”

His face crumpled, and he started crying. And then my face crumpled, and I started crying. I apologized to him, but I felt awful. He stopped crying after a few minutes, but I kept crying all the way to church.

In her post, Morguess talks about one of the parts of motherhood that I struggle with the most: the thanklessness. Working so hard for two beautiful creatures that don’t have the capacity to understand all that I do for them. She says it best when she talks about why motherhood is so difficult:

It’s because I do and do and do for them, constantly, and it often seems like all I get in return is complaining that it’s not enough – or just outright ignored.

Yes. This. My children are wonderful, and I love them with all my heart. But they are three and four. They can’t possibly understand all that I do for them, and sometimes they even actively fight against it. And I struggle with that.

Finding Joy in the Thankless

I was thinking about all of these things yesterday as I sat in Good Friday service at church. Since I became a Christian, I’ve asked the Lord to make me more like Jesus, our example. From the standpoint of thanklessness, no one had a worse deal than Jesus. He created the world, came to give His people the truth, and they nailed Him to a cross. He healed ten men with leprosy, and only one thanked Him. One of his own disciples handed him over to be killed. He took the punishment for my sins, and there are days when I barely give Him a thought. And yet He gave. And He gives. And He has never once lost His patience with me.

And He never will.

Finding Joy in the Thankless

Maybe motherhood is the answer to that prayer I prayed ten years ago, “I want to be more like You.” I’ve been given what I asked for — an opportunity to grow in grace. Yes, motherhood is hard, and thankless. I don’t want to minimize that AT ALL. But when I look at my life, at who I am now and who I want to be, I think I’ve been looking at things from the wrong perspective.

Where do I go from here? Well, I don’t exactly know. It’s a day-by-day struggle for me to be thankful for this answered prayer of thankless sacrifice. I struggle to be grateful in my most frustrated moments. There are times I want to throw up my hands and say, “I didn’t ask for this!” But I did. And now I have to figure out how to walk this sometimes thankless walk with joy. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I am thankful that my Savior never snaps at me, and never loses His temper. He always forgives, and each day is a chance to try again.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23