4 Habits of a Healthy Heart
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
We were leaving the hospital with our first-born child. We had our amply packed diaper bag, infant car seat and the new parent's must-have guide, What to Expect When You're Expecting. Yet fear interrupted my joyful anticipation as I thought: Are they really just going to let us walk out of here with her? We don't know ANYTHING about being parents.
We had taken classes to prepare us for labor and delivery, so we were almost ready for 36 hours of labor (thank the Lord for medication). But no breathing exercises or epidurals provided me with what I'd need for a lifetime of being a mom.
Where was the crash course to help me navigate the challenges of potty training, temper tantrums, first dates, late curfews and disappointing choices?
I learned parenting requires on-the-job training. We start with what we already know, and then learn what we can along the way. Naturally, it's far easier said than done with the heart of a mother. Rather than approaching parenting with a rational perspective, my mother's heart can flip from hope to panic in an instant.
I imagine a future graduation day where my little cherub graduates with honors, facing abundant college choices leading to the perfect career path. Then within seconds I panic over the thought this same child might struggle with peer acceptance, social awkwardness and academic challenges, leading to horrible, life-altering choices.
Whew! Parenting is exhausting.
So how do we equip ourselves for everything we need as moms? We make sure our needs are met first by the One who knows us best.
Over the years, and through many ups and downs, I've learned four spiritual habits to help maintain a strong, healthy mother's heart.
1. Develop a HEART for GOD — Make time each day to dig into His Word. As I spend time with God and meditate on His truth, I gain godly perspectives on parenting dilemmas, choices and challenges. He prepares us each day for all we face — dirty diapers, temper tantrums, you name it.
2. Stay HEART to HEART — Develop healthy community as you journey through motherhood. Surround yourself with godly women who believe in you as a mom and help you find the best in your kids. Consider joining a Bible study or a playgroup to foster this type of community.
3. Let God OPEN the EYES of YOUR HEART — As we spend time with God each day, we see our children the way HE sees them. We begin to see glimpses of their passions, gifts and talents. God helps our children develop their gifts and gives us unique insights into their strengths and weaknesses, which can help our kids develop those gifts.
4. Maintain your UNIQUE HEART — Learn to take care of yourself to make sure your identity is not exclusively found in your children. This includes making time to nurture your marriage and also invest in your own passions. Are you a good leader? Lead a Bible study or your school's PTA. Looking to develop your interests? Take a class online. Have a heart for others? Organize a food drive, collect winter coats or serve with a local charity. Part of maintaining a healthy heart is finding ways to invest in and express our gifts.
It's important to guard and maintain our hearts because as mothers, our hearts can grow weary. Our key verse today reminds us maintaining healthy hearts helps us love our children well: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
That little baby is now on a young lady on her own. And although my role as a mother has changed, I still need to practice the same healthy heart habits — maybe even more than when my biggest problems were broken toys.
Father, give me strength as a mom to trust You with my children. Forgive me for trying to have my hopes and dreams fulfilled through them. Give me Your eyes to see each gift, talent and dream You have placed within them. Thank You in advance for the wisdom You allow to guide my mother's heart through each and every year ahead. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 139:15-16, "You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think of a few fellow travelers in motherhood who believe in you. Consider calling them today. What are some things you can do to encourage another mother?
Write an index card for each of the above "heart" actions. On the card, write down a Bible verse for each and use it as a prayer for God to bring this heart action into your parenting.