The note said without saying, Thanks for holding your ground, Mom. You were right not to give in to me. And I love you so much.
It was taped to the coffeepot Saturday morning. He said he put it there because he knew I’d find it.
Now I’m putting it here so you don’t give up or give in.
Because the night before I found the note, Tall One and I were in a tussle and I almost quit.
Strong Ones Don’t Give Up
Aw, Mom, why can’t we just play Brawl Stars? He brought his iPad too. C’mon. That’s what we want!
We had very different ideas about how our Friday fun night should look. When a new 6th grade boy visited, Tall One pushed hard for screen time, alone. Mom held out for tacos at the table and real games- board games- after dinner, together.
And I asked myself what I sometimes ask my husband, Why am I surprised parenting is so strenuous and effortful and just plain hard ?
Unlimited screentime would have been so much easier.
Strong Ones Stand On Promises
Honestly, had it not been for these verses swirling around my mind, I’d have given in.
- And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
- For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36
- Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
They’re a few of my go-to, keep-on promises from God. And you know what they say about what makes strong ones strong, don’t you?
They stand on the promises. They don’t sit on the premises.
Strong Ones Endure
Strength can be measured, physically and spiritually, by what will make us stop. What will make us throw in the towel, cry “Uncle!” or just be done?
But God strengthened me with his promises that night. I endured Tall One’s onslaught and stood my ground when the 12 year-old lashed out against the good. This mom endured that pain.
Because I’m learning that strong ones reframe their pain and so renew their minds (Romans 12:2). Strong ones know that it’s trials and pain that build endurance- the ability to stand up under a burden (picture big dudes gripping bendy barbells)- and that it’s endurance that makes them mature and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4).
Add that to your go-to promises.
Strong Ones Rest
But, to be sure, strong ones rest. Athletes build rest days into their training plans. God rested the seventh day and commanded that we rest, for our good. You might even say, so that we can better endure.
I love how Timothy Keller explains this, and, fair warning, if you’re a driver like me, this might be hard to read:
Anyone who cannot obey God’s command to observe the Sabbath is a slave, even a self-imposed one. Your own heart, or our materialistic culture, or an exploitative organization, or all of the above, will be abusing you if you don’t have the ability to be disciplined in your practice of Sabbath. Sabbath is therefore a declaration of our freedom. It means you are not a slave—not to your culture’s expectations, your family’s hopes, your medical school’s demands, not even to your own insecurities… In the long run, of course, a deeply rested people are far more productive.
Yes, rest. In freedom, rest. By grace through faith, rest in the God who supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19) and freely gives us all things (Romans 8:32).
Let the record reflect that three games of Mexican Train, twelve hands of Apples to Apples (Tall One’s friend wanted more!) and five dirty taco bowls later, I did rest.
Strong Ones Know Their Real Home
But in this pilgrim life, rest is not the norm. The norm is work and work out. The norm is get up and press on. Strong ones know that comfort is overrated and don’t expect full satisfaction this side of heaven. They know that expecting comfort and ease now tends toward anxiety and disappointment and, well, being dissatisfied.
Knowing that truth is the only reason that this weary mom could hold her ground against Tall One’s barrage coming home Friday night after a very long work week.
Because even Friday night at home, I’m learning, is not really home.
The settled happiness and security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Strong ones know their real home. They know they are pilgrims on a narrow way. They enjoy fun times but they know such times are just “pleasant inns.” And they don’t demand the inn every Friday night.
The Strong Know God Knows
Pilgrims were sturdy souls. They were focused and strong. The hundred who settled Plymouth 400 years ago had every reason to quit.
But they were strong ones and strong ones don’t look for excuses because they know spiritual strength comes from endurance, and endurance must finish its work. So they push back against pressure to quit because their eyes are on the prize (James 1:12), even when it’s invisible to naked eyes (2 Corinthians 4:18). Oh, yes! Strong ones see that victor’s crown that awaits enduring saints and jubilate.
So whether your pressure is long term or short term, whether a difficult job or a strong-willed kid, whether it’s aches in your body or strains on your mind- please keep on. Will you join me and stand on the promises? Our labor is not in vain, we will reap and there will come God’s reward. God will strengthen us (1 Peter 5:10) to endure.
You might not be gifted with a note from a Tall One taped to your coffeepot like I was.
But you can know that God knows when you bear up for his sake. So keep on.
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.