Being a parent is definitely a labour of love. There are moments when you want to tear your hair out or run away and hide for a few weeks. Then there are others that melt your heart, when you get an extra big squeeze in a cuddle or like earlier this evening, when the girls were curled up in bed reading and giggling together.
It's hard work and there are ups and downs not just daily but hourly. It is definitely labour intensive ... but bringing up my girls (with Mark), is probably the most rewarding thing that I think I will ever do in my life. Our parents did it for us (thank you very much, by the way) and now we're doing it for our munchkins.
It's not just being a parent that falls in that category though. Having a husband/wife is similar. Making a good marriage requires constant hard work, on good days and bad ... 'for as long as we both shall live'!
Some friendships are also a labour of love.
I have been blessed with some really good friends all over the world. Many of which have lasted for years without us actually being able to meet up face-to-face ... but when we do get together, we can pick up wherever we left off with no trouble at all and have a great time. There are other people who cross my path, who for one reason or another I don't click with naturally and the relationship just requires a lot of hard work.
It may be that God has put them in my life for me to learn something from them, to grow my own character, to gain patience or a deeper understanding of how to love ... or something else. It may be that God has put them in my life for me just to be there to help them, to listen, to guide, to encourage ... for a season.
In those situations, on a good day, it is easier to see the bigger picture and be the person God wants me to be. On a bad day, when I'm tired, busy, frustrated ... it becomes all the more challenging.
I don't think it is uncommon for anyone to have at least a couple of these friendships in their lives, I know I have. While I would like to report that I'm always a model Christian, gracious and understanding, there are times that that is so totally far from the truth (at least on the inside!) ... and I need to pray for wisdom in how to be a better friend to them.
I'm choosing to learn from the more difficult friendships in my life right now, rather than avoid them (because there is always likely to be another one just round the corner), as well revelling in my good friendships to get the balance. It is something that I hope I will be able to model to the girls in time ... but we're all only human and unfortunately I know there will be times when we will get it wrong too!