Of Tissue Paper Hearts, God's Obvious Love, and A Practical Gospel

I really like Valentine's Day. Even when I was single (which is still how I've spent the majority of my V-Days), I still enjoyed it. February needs something like it. And since not everyone celebrates the birthdays of the greatest dads ever (aka: my father and father-in-law), February needs a little sparkle and some lovin'.

To be quite honest, I'm rarely the thoughtful, prepared mom. I know. You're all shocked. If I had kids in preschool, I'd probably be the mom that would be up until 3 a.m. the night before their birthday trying to concoct a treat for them to take to school. I forget almost all major holidays. And I can't seem to remember birthdays to save my life.

February crept up upon us, and I was caught with an alarming lack of glitter, stickers, and iridescent hearts. My brain has been so focused on the counseling certification I'm pursuing, and honestly, cutesy notes and tissue-paper crafts slipped my mind.

So, in an effort to be the amazing mom I dream of being, I pulled out tissue paper, glue sticks (which cause my children to fight more than any toy ever will), and we made hearts. We strung them up around our dining room, as I sang I John 4:9 over and over (seriously, this song is everything that you could ask from an amazing '90s memory verse song. I love everything by "GT & The Halo Express.") We talked about how God is love. And we know that he is love because he sent Jesus to soak up all our nasty sins. God is love. God is love. God is love. And I prayed and prayed that this truth would sink in and be real.

But as we glued, and fought, and sang, and taught, I knew, deep down, that my children didn't need tissue paper and paper hearts. My children need to see that God is love. My children need to be given proof that God is love. 

Paul knew that people needed to see God's love. They needed to see gentleness and patience. He urged Timothy to teach his flock to be gentle.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.
— II Timothy 2:24,25

Too often, I rely on snappy activities, a silly song, and a nighttime Bible story to show my children who God is. While I'm confident that God will use all my feeble efforts, he also designed another avenue for the gospel... my gentleness. Patient teaching. Reigning in the badgering, providing truth. 

Few people would argue that they have to "endure evil" from their children, but that's what their repetitive, irritating, little sins are: evil. My children are sinners. By the grace of God they have years of babyhood and childhood in which to instill morality, character, and (please, Lord!) redeemed souls. But they are unsaved people. Living in my house.

And one of the ways that I can show them God is through my gentleness. So, yes, my kid may spill their milk for the third time... and I breathe in God's grace and breathe out gentle words. I become a pointer finger punching bag, as my child pecks at me, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"... and I breathe in a prayer, and breathe out patient answers. For the 319th time, in the space of ten minutes, over one measly toy, my children again dissolve into screams... and I remember where God found me. Breath... Grace... Gentleness.

Because God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.

And better than tissue paper hearts and catchy songs, my gentleness as a mommy may be what leads them to a firm conviction that GOD IS LOVE.