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Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Hula-Hoop Space

So....newsflash: moms have no personal space.

The end.

I know this is shocking, and right now you’re reeling as you begin to comprehend the undiscovered truth of this statement.

Kidding. Right now, as you read this, your kids are probably hanging on your leg, lifting your dress over their heads, and touching your butt.

Or maybe that’s just what my kids are doing as I write.

My four-year-old perverted son has been enjoying his newest pastime, which I affectionately refer to as “pillow punching.” He loves to come at me when I least expect it, fooling me into letting my guard down by wanting to give me a “hug.” Then, when I spread my arms wide to lovingly embrace my little cherub, he sticks out his pointer fingers and pokes me full on in the breasts. Hard.

As of today, he is still a living, breathing member of our family. I cannot guarantee that this will be the case if the pillow punching continues.

My two-year-old constantly wants to “sit you lap.” I love, love, love to cuddle with my little fuzzy-headed munchkin, and enjoy nothing more than curling up with him in the rocking chair and tickling his arm as he chills in my lap. However, most of the time what he means by “sit” in my lap means, climb up in order to slide back down my legs and climb up again. And slide down again. And again. And again. I have a constant line of bruises on my shins from his “sit-you-lap.” My only defense against this fun activity is to not shave my legs for days on end, therefore leaving them too spikey to slide on. However, this is also punishment for me as my porcupine-quill leg hair wakes me at night when my legs rub together and stab each other to shreds.

My daughter, who is almost six, is in a rough-and-rowdy phase, and she just loves to come up behind me and jump on my back or grab me around the neck when I’m doing fun things like changing a poopy diaper or cleaning up spilled juice on the kitchen floor. If I’m crouched down, trying to pick up one of the million toys or Legos off of our living room floor, she does what any sane person would do and runs full-speed into me, knocking me over like a bowling pin.

Some days I am covered in snot and poop and germs and slobber. And it’s gross.

Some days I can laugh through the pain, the touching, and the poking, the drool.

Other days, I need my hula-hoop space.

My question, therefore, is: how do I continue to love on and engage my children using one of the most important of the physical senses (touch) when I am completely depleted in the area of personal space?

How do I push through my occasional aversion to being touched at all, by anyone, anywhere, so that I can engage with my husband on an intimate level?

How do I extend grace and operate with a heart of patience toward my children and my husband when all I want is to lash out verbally and physically and to defend my “right” to my alone time and my hula-hoop space?

Only by the grace, power, and strength of a Holy God who gives me endurance and stamina to keep on keepin’ on when I feel like I have nothing left to give.

Only by allowing the Holy Spirit to infiltrate the most selfish, hard parts of my heart, which requires confession of my selfishness and hardness, and subsequent breaking of those strongholds in my life.

Only by remembering that Jesus Himself died to His rights (and His rights were actual rights, not perceived rights like mine) in order to elevate His Father’s cause, giving up His personal space to the ultimate end, the cross.

There’s no better example to follow than that of Jesus. He left His rightful place, His heavenly throne, to come and touch, both spiritually and physically, the lowest of the low, the dirtiest of the dirty, the roughest of the rough, in order to love and lead them to Jesus. He humbled Himself, died to His rights, and fully engaged.

I can imagine sometimes He felt like His personal space was invaded. I can imagine that sometimes, in the crowds and throngs of followers, believers, mockers, and gawkers, He wished He could escape. I bet He tired of people tugging at His robe. I am sure He felt depleted and like He had nothing left to give as people poured into towns and cities to see this “Jesus,” to ask Him for miracles and for favors and for advice. I bet He felt claustrophobic and wanted to run and curl up in fetal position in a dark room where no one was touching Him or asking Him for things.

But He kept on. He sacrificed His own desires, His own will, for the will and ultimate purposes of His Father. He counted the salvation and redemption of others as more important than His preferences.

Philippians 2 describes Christ’s heart of sacrifice more beautifully than I ever could:

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Will I sacrifice my desire for hula-hoop space in order to love and lead my little ones to the cross? Will I push through my exhaustion and my aversion to giving one single ounce more of myself in order to love my husband well and intimately, as a reflection of how the bride of Christ loves her groom?

I can’t do this alone. Neither can you. We can’t run on empty. We must, absolutely must, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. My flesh is sinful and selfish. In my own power I can only desire sinful and selfish things. But by the power of the Spirit of God in me, I can desire Spirit things, Godly things.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)

I want to be the person, the mother, the wife, the Christ-follower, who gives of herself past the point of hurting. I want to trust my God to fill my tank and then give some more. I want to lay my hula-hoop down for hugs. I want to hold those around me close, not at an arm’s length. This is my prayer for myself, and for you. That God would raise up an army of selfless, broken mothers to love our children, our husbands, and our communities to Jesus.

Who’s with me?

And, to be completely honest, I am terrible at hula-hooping anyway. I always tried as a kid and never succeeded in doing much of anything other than looking a fool. The only thing I was super-good at was swinging the hula-hoop around my neck. You know what I mean, cuz you did it do. I could swing that hoop with the best of them. I am also 98% sure I looked like a chicken. That’s all.

Feel free to laugh!