7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.~ I Thessalonians 2:7-8
I read these verses the other day as part of my daily reading, and they hit me pretty forcefully. Paul here is talking about how they as sharers of the gospel behaved among the Thessalonians. And as a young mom, this analogy rings so, so true.
"As a nursing mother cherishes her own children." I nursed two kids in the past almost-seven years, and let me just tell you that when you're doing so, absolutely everything you do revolves around that. I chose my clothes based on my kids. Dresses? Too difficult to manage. Delicate necklaces? Ha! No way, no how. Chunky belts? Forget it--they would dig into the little one. I chose my food based on my kids. Too much caffeine? No, that could make its way into the milk supply. Certain foods that I ate could give them gas. Go out to lunch without the baby? It had better be carefully scheduled in those 2-3 hours I had between feedings.
But you know, it wasn't a difficulty. It was just the way things were. It was what I did because I love my kids and had made that decision for them. Because I love them so much I would give them my life if they needed it, so what was a dress or a favorite necklace or a third cup of coffee?
What nursing a child comes down to is your life not being your own. It revolves around them. We think not for ourselves, but for our baby. And that's the way we're supposed to behave toward those we're nurturing in the Lord too?
I do try to consider such things as my witness, my appearance, whether my faith is shining through my words and deeds. But to that extent? I don't know that I have. And that really makes me pause and consider.
You know when my hubby and I get into fights? When we're both focused on our own wants and desires rather than the other's. You know when the kiddos frustrate me most? When they wrap both hands around their wills and cling. You know when I bet the Lord shakes his head at us? Yep. When our thoughts are filled with me, me, me instead of Him.
Instead of them.
He calls us to a beautiful thing. He calls us to nurturing His other children. He calls us to a love that is selfless and pure. More, a love that is natural. All He's asking us is to let our transformed hearts guide us in our ministerial relationships. To not let that be overpowered by our selfish sides.
But you know, it can also be painful. It can tax the body, the mind. And if they push you away? Oh yeah, the pain can get pretty bad. We see that in some of Paul's letters, don't we? His agony when these young Christians he helped convert, who he is trying so hard to nurture in faith, reject his teaching.
That's the way we ought to feel. Not just shrugging it off, but seeking after them. Drawing them close again.
I always love when I discover a facet of God revealed through the way He built families, and this is definitely one of those. He loves us...and calls us to love in return. Such a simple command in its essence--but far too often overlooked in this world that tells us to focus on ourselves.