Friday, 15 March 2013

Things that go bump in the night

When things go bump in the night in our house now I don't immediately wake up Ben and get him to go downstairs brandishing a torch in the dark. I usually just roll over  - I know it's my twins getting up for their regular middle of the night play session. When they started this (back when they first got out of their cots and went into beds) I was appalled. My twin girls had always slept amazingly well and I think I thought I had got it sussed. Well, how wrong I was!

At first I was strict, I sat outside the door of their room and put them back into bed every time they got out  of bed. Sometimes this would be when they first went to bed, but soon it was just when they woke in the middle of the night - I would hear "Hope, wake up it's time to play!" and Anna would be in Hope's bed ready for whatever they decided to do! Then I tried being cross (when I say tried, I didn't need to try  - I was cross, and angry, after sitting outside a door for several hours in the middle of the night). This just resulted in their tears and my own tears and their utter rebellion against me making them stay in their bed (which actually became impossible - I couldn't keep two of them in bed!)

I asked other parents of twins I knew if they remembered this. So desperate was I that I asked total random parents of twins I saw in the park if they experienced this. I trawled internet sites trying to find what other parents of twins had done to solve this problem - and in all these cases, found virtually nothing! In some cases it seems parents were strict for a few nights and soon (within a week or two) their twins got out of the habit. But still nearly 9 months on now, my girls play (sometimes up to 5 nights week) for at least several hours in the middle of the night. So in the end I have given up and chosen to ignore it.

They seem to be having a lovely time most nights. It has changed from being completely wild abandon at first - being able to do whatever they wanted in their bedroom without adults around (one night I went in and they had taken everything out of every drawer and storage box and made a huge pile in the middle of the room, "we've tidied up Mummy!" they proudly announced) - to now being creating 'tents' on beds with the curtains and playing boats or camping with teddies. Usually they go to sleep in the same bed when they get tired, which is between 5 and 6 o'clock and then they have a few more hours sleep until 9 or 10 am. So I quite often get a quiet morning, just me and Athol eating breakfast alone! I like to think that they are learning self control (when they know they are tired early in the morning they will go back to sleep) and that they are problem solving (when they both want to play different games) and that all these things will create more rounded individuals. But often I wonder if it is just a pragmatic "I need more sleep" kind of decision.

Whatever it is has made me realise - I was full of pride that my kids slept well  - well, that's definitely been taken away! I don't want to find my identity in being a Mum to kids who sleep well  - how fickle that turned out to be! I want to find my identity in Jesus who forgives my anger, pride and need for control  - and who looks on me with grace and love despite my failings in this area!

And to all other parents of twins out there..........I don't think I can say for sure it gets better (although people assure me it will!), but I have learnt some hard lessons through this - and have (usually in hindsight!) been able to laugh a lot about the crazy stuff Anna and Hope do in the middle of the night.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Change from the Inside

I've been reading 'Centre Church' by Tim Keller and (after the initial slight shock of realising that I hadn't read anything that required me to concentrate and think quite hard for a bit!) have been challenged and inspired by his perceptive understanding of our human hearts. He talks a lot in the first section about how our sinful hearts have tainted how we understand the gospel. We can be legalists whereby we scold ourselves (but usually others!) for where we fail God's standards (or our perception of what this is) and live life by a rigid routine of works and trying to build up self righteousness. Or we can be relativists - we can claim God isn't bothered about sin and have very loose terms for what the Bible says is right and wrong.

Keller says: "In the end, legalism and relativism in churches are not just equally wrong, they are basically the same thing. They are just different strategies of self salvation built on human effort"
In fact Keller argues that 'self salvation' is our default mode.

This led me to do some soul searching about where I stand. A line in a song I've been listening to has been making me think - "I could hold on, I could hold on to who I am and never let you change me from the inside. I could be safe, I could be safe here in your arms and never leave home, never let these walls down". (All Sons and Daughters. Call Me Higher)

Do I want to spend my life trying to change myself by my own effort? Do I want to spend my life trying to impress others by changing outwardly what they see of me? Do I want to spend my life striving for God's blessing by the stuff I do?

Or do I really want God to change me from the inside?

Outwardly, people in churches can look much the same. The outward appearance of someone's life who is being transformed by God's grace from the inside and the outward appearance of someone who is striving for self salvation can be virtually impossible to separate. I don't want to make myself just look right from the outside  - I want the Holy Spirit to transform me from the inside out.

This will mean some scary stuff. It will mean giving over my need for respect, control and power over to God. I don't want my needs to overwhelm me and drive my behaviour. It will mean letting the gospel, the grace of Jesus drive down deep in my life, the gospel must train and discipline my life - I want it to destroy my pride and fearfulness which drives me to self-salvation. In short I want my actions to be motivated by Jesus' grace for me. I want everything I do to be from a desire to "know, resemble, please and love the One who saved me" (Centre Church)