“You must have the patience of a saint.” It was just another variation of the “How do you do it?” inquiry, but this remark of a friend particularly startled me. Somehow with four children under the age of seven, others get the impression that I am cut from a different mold. They assume that only a special woman would have children so closely spaced and that this special woman must have special qualities or special virtues making her suitable for the large-family life. In other words, “Glad you can do it because I certainly don't have what it takes!”
If only this admirer had seen me snap at my dear ones after a day of schooling when the baby was prematurely woken from his nap and I was running on fumes. If only she had seen me blame my husband for the grass on my freshly-vacuumed floor. If only she had heard me grumble about the spilled water at the table. And clearly she had been absent when I dissolved into tears at the kitchen sink, biting my stinging tongue. Patience is a virtue and it is not mine.
“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do I do.”
Despite my human weakness and seeming failures, maybe the joy of our busy home is a drawing light. Like other mamas of multiple little ones, I could share reams of management tips. I could tell how we’ve simplified our lives in order to spend most days at home; or I could tell how we train the children to obey even before they can crawl; or I could tell how we work, keeping the children by our sides.
But tips and tricks are human wisdom. I could train and teach and manage from morning till night and still not exude peace because that is not how we thrive. It is solely by God’s grace. “…yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” He gives the strength and patience as it is needed. When I was blessed with one child, having more children seemed incomprehensible. I barely kept my head above the water some days. The reason is clear. With one child, He supplied the grace for one—not two or three or four—and as each child was born, His grace increased.
I am reminded of the testimony of Corrie ten Boom. As a child, she confided in her father that she was afraid she would never have the courage to be a martyr. He asked her, “When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you money for the ticket?”
“Just before we get on the train,” she answered.
“So it is with God’s strength…He will supply all you need—just in time.”
When my life feels at capacity and Doubt is whispering in my ear, or when I am stretched thin and feel incapable of accepting any more responsibility, I know that He is still holding the grace I need for what lies ahead. I am simply clay, molded in the hands of my Father.
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”
And His grace is enough.