This post is by Joanne Wu.
“So kids, what do you think mom wants for her birthday?” I was a bit amused to hear my husband ask my children this on the noisy car ride home. After experiencing a day of surprises and showers of love from friends and family, I had yet to receive what I had actually hoped would happen on my birthday - to not have to plan any meals, to not have to clean up after anyone, and to be so at rest that I could feel bored. As a mother of five kids 10 and under, that last hope is a dream. But the first two, I was really hoping would be reality. So I was curious to hear what my kids would say.
Much to my surprise, my four oldest kids could articulate what mommy wanted. “That her kids will pick up their toys.” “That daddy will wash the dishes.” “To sleep.” “That someone else will take out the trash.” I howled. My kids were spot on, and so detailed too. Hearing their responses let me know that my kids actually know me. I don’t recall telling them what I wanted, but because of our relationship, they could confidently list things that would make Mommy happy. Maybe next year they will actually ACT upon the things they KNOW. :)
Later that evening, I started wondering, Do I know God the way my children know me? If I were asked What does God want for his birthday?, what would I say? Do I know what God desires? Do I actually act upon the things I know pleases God’s heart? Or am I more like my children - knowing but not yet doing? Or maybe, I’m actually not even close to knowing. I might be able to list what I’ve learned God loves, but it doesn’t come from the heart. Do I know God?
I want to say a confident yes, but I also hesitate. Because if I say I do, then I feel like a hypocrite because my life doesn’t always reflect that I believe God is even real. If I say no, I feel guilty. Because that’s a lie, I know what God desires. I’ve listed “love God, love others” as my “religion” back when Facebook still had the “poke” button, way before reactions were a thing. Why is it that I feel the least confident to say “yes” to knowing what God desires? Why is there shame if I know God loves me with outstretched arms? Why do I feel fear if I believe following Jesus is the only real thing worth living for?
In the middle of talking to myself, I pause and look at the vase of fake flowers sitting on my cluttered dining table. And I ask God for some help. Which leads me to some God time - spending time with God. I look at the fake flowers and realize I struggle to say “yes” to God because I feel like I’m not producing anything visible to show that I know God. And the thought that I have to have something visible to SHOW I love God is a lie. Yes, if I love God, I will also love others. But unlike how I’ve been indirectly taught to believe, God does not sit there and make a list of whether or not I have anything to SHOW that I love him. Instead, God makes it clear, repeatedly, that to love God is to abide in him - which means to attach myself securely into the Vine. The visible by-products from being attached to a Living Vine - leaves, fruit, flowers - are not my worries. Looking to see what I can DO is not the purpose of God time. Rather, God time is about spending time with God. Period. I was not created to be a fake flower- always in bloom, I was created to be attached to the Vine.
My children are still little, so they all love spending time with me. I’m aware, this may not always be the case. I never want to know that they only spend time with me out of obligation. I don’t want to think that they are putting toys away and helping to take out the trash or wash the dishes ONCE A YEAR because that’s my “birthday present”. But sometimes, I have that attitude with God. “I’ll spend time with God because he expects it.” As if I’m doing God a favor. As if God’s well being depends on it.
When in actuality, it is my well-being, my very life that is dependent on God. If I believe God, the Holy Creator, desires me, his creation, to spend time with him, to abide in him, then what keeps me from giving God some quality 1-1 time? Today, if you haven’t already, pause and tell God “hello” and remember God is seeking to be in a relationship with you.
Joanne is a SoCal native who currently lives in Taiwan with her husband of fourteen years. She is a mom to five beautiful children and one faithful Golden Retriever. She appreciates free time to take walks, sleep, and slowly eat her food. She shares about how she finds grace in the midst of everyday mess on Instagram @mom.of.wu .
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