I can’t stop thinking about all the young families quarantined with their children right now. I’ve raised my children and am giddily awaiting the birth of my first grandchild. At this stage of life, there are no children in our home to feed, bathe, clothe, teach and generally tend to. All of these things require an enormous amount of love and patience even on the best days. I can only imagine the tension that could be building as pent up energy is not allowed to burn in the usual ways.
In my reading of James 3 this morning, I was reminded of a lesson God taught me when I was a mother of three young boys. My children were not doing what I asked them to do. They were wrestling and arguing and being loud, so I got louder, accomplishing nothing. I fled into my bedroom and shut the door and cried out to God, “They won’t listen to me unless I yell.”
God spoke gently to me, “Speak gently to your children. Your words should feel like cotton rubbing their skin.” So I asked, “Lord, what do my words feel like?” I heard, “Sandpaper.”
I went to the garage where I knew there was some sandpaper. Next, I went to my bathroom to grab a cotton makeup round. I rubbed the sandpaper on my arm. Harsh, hurtful, rough. Not something I wanted to continue. Then, I rubbed the cotton on my arm. Soft, smooth, gentle. I could handle that sensation all day.
At that moment, I knew I was supposed to keep this visual image before me. I decided to cut out a circle of sandpaper to match my makeup round. As I was about to cut, I heard God’s whisper again, “Cut the sandpaper into a heart. You think you are yelling because you love them, but it still hurts.”
I cut the sandpaper into a heart and placed it along with the cotton round into a baggie. I put it in my makeup drawer to see every morning as I was getting dressed. Some days I was already feeling the sandpaper. I would ask God to fill me with His Spirit, so we could have a cotton day.
It’s okay to struggle, especially in these troublesome times. I’m sure you’re finding it difficult to be alone and have a thought to yourself. Still, it’s important to make those moments happen.
If Susanna Wesley (who gave birth to nineteen children) could make time to talk to God, any of us can. The mother of John and Charles Wesley, Susanna was homeschooling her ten surviving children as well as running a farm. Her husband was often traveling. Her prayer closet was a long apron she would lift over her head, which signaled to her children that she was not to be disturbed. God only knows what desperate prayers she must have cried out underneath the covering of that apron. I imagine she sometimes just sat with God, allowing Him to remind her she was seen, and loved, and lovely.
Your children are being given a unique opportunity to see you spend time with God during this season. I bet they notice the difference when you do.
Can both cotton and sandpaper come from the same mouth? James asked a similar question in Chapter 3, verse 11. ‘Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?’ James says it happens, but it should not be (verse 10).
What do we choose to believe about our identity?Are we a saltwater or a fresh spring?Are we sandpaper or cotton?Are we orphans or beloved daughters?
Whatever we believe about ourselves is the spring that will flow from our mouths. Do you desire cotton days? I encourage you to make your own sandpaper heart and cotton round as a visual reminder. During these long days at home, I pray we will all take moments to allow God to fill us with His tender love. Then, let that love flow to our children like a fresh spring.
I wish you a cotton day.
Donna Wallis says
Beautifully said and so timely! I only recently read about Susanna Wesley in Eric Metaxas’ Seven Women and the Secret to Their Greatness. I can’t get my head around raising that many kids with an often absent husband during that time in history. Thanks for these personal words of wisdom, and congrats on your upcoming role as a Grandmom! 😉
Cindy Powell says
Tammy, you are so gifted with your writings and how you relay so simply the truths of God’s word and promises. So blessed to call you a dear friend since our childhood years. I, too, wish I had been more like cotton than sandpaper with my 3 boys and will definitely share this with my daughter-in-law (also the mother of 3 boys as of last week).
Excellent! Well said! Thank you for sharing!
Raisa Wilfong says
I love this Tammy, for me and every woman I know. I will share it with my daughters as well. Please keep writing and sharing my friend! 💝
I love the metaphor, Tammy, and will forward this to granddaughters’ mom, my daughter, so she realizes the cottony days she provides for them and me especially during these last three weeks.
Thank you, Barbara. I’m glad your daughter has you to encourage her. We can all use support during this season. – Tammy
Nwakaego Egwuenu says
Very beautiful piece Tammy! I am a mother of 3 young children and could use this in my day to day life. This couldn’t be more timely. Thank you
Thanks, Ego. I pray for many sweet moments with your children during this time. – Tammy
Beautiful! I wish I had “cottoned” instead of “sandpapered” my children while growing up. I’m sending this on to my daughter.
Thank you, Pamela. I sent this article to my grown boys and said I hoped they remembered more cotton days than sandpaper days. They said they didn’t remember any sandpaper days. Ha! God is merciful! Thanks for encouraging your daughter. Tammy
Paula Cook says
Tammy has both made me laugh and admire her faith all of our lives.
Thank you, Paula. You’ve always been one of my greatest encouragers. – Tammy
Melinda Smith says
Thank you, Tammy. Such an important message for young mothers at this time.
I appreciate your comments, Melinda. We can all use a little extra encouragement during these challenging days. – Tammy