Monday, September 16, 2013

Mother of the Year? No Thanks

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than you soul? 
--Matthew 16:26

If you've read my blog for any length of time you're aware that I struggled through a time of infertility before being blessed with my precious son, Dayton. And I feel that since I begged and pleaded and wept innumerable tears for this child that I should be the absolute best mother that I can be. Of course, there are countless resources and influences competing for my attention in the instruction of how to achieve this goal. Everything from newsletters filling my inbox, to magazines crowding my end table, to Pinterest and Facebook filling up multiple tabs on my browser. And of course, the good ol' fashioned advice from friends, family, acquaintances, and people I've never met before in my life. Oh, and not to leave out pediatricians, nurses, and other professionals of varying backgrounds. It's an information overload and it results in immense pressure. Especially for someone hardwired for perfection.

You see, I can't look at a list of the 25 best activities/habits/learning concepts to do with your toddler and choose just one or two to start with. I have to try the whole 25 because that's the best way, the perfect way, the 'mom of the year' way. But since that's impossible, I end up doing none of them and feeling like 'crummy mom of the year' instead. I can't possibly use all of the advice I'm given, I can't possibly live up to the standard of every best practice, I can't possibly do all of the ideas of Pinterest. But the perfectionist in me says that I fail if I don't and that has left me frozen in inaction.

Truth be told, I've been drowning under all this pressure---mostly imposed upon by my own self, I willingly admit. Drowning, and yet dying of thirst. You know, water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink! I get that. I totally get that.

But this weekend I was given an opportunity to wade knee deep in the Living Water. O, how it watered this parched and weary soul.

Twenty-four of us from my church convoyed over to Cedar Point for Point Fest, their annual Christian music festival. I debated for a couple of weeks whether or not to go--the money & leaving my son ALL.DAY. being two main reasons holding me back (it's hard to spend money on yourself after having a child--it just is!). But as this dry feeling began eroding more and more of my joy, my resolve, my drive, my sanity it became clear that I needed this badly. I didn't know what God would give me but He always shows up when I go looking. Always. And so I prayed for something, anything, that He wanted to give me, I said I'd take it.

Four bands, each giving a different message, each one profound, powerful, and of God. But the one that hit me the deepest, the one I'm holding on to and declaring for my truth from the Almighty Himself, came from Toby Mac at the end of the night. In a song I've had on my iPod for years and have listened to many times but that night I heard it with fresh ears. It struck me like a bolt of lightning, the floodgates of heaven opened in my soul and the water came rushing in. It'd be trickling through all day, soaking in slow and steady, but in this moment, I was drenched in the Living Water.

'I don't wanna gain the whole world, and lose my soul'. 

I don't want to be mother of the year 
and lose every semblance of grace in the process. 

I don't want to spend time reading about mothering while ignoring the one who needs mothered. I don't want to waste time talking about mothering while the one who needs mothered is trying to get my attention. I don't want to be supermom, that mom, a Pinterest mom, and end up with a child that had 'perfection' but no modeling of grace, joy, and redemption. I don't want to be the best mom anymore, I want to be the mom who does what's best for my family.

You see, I've been striving after the wrong things. I've been chasing someone else's standard, even chasing my standard is wrong. It's God's standard that matters. God's standard is grace, but I've been living in un-grace. No grace for myself, no grace for the ones around me. God's standard is love but it's awfully hard to love when you're living in un-grace. God's standard is joy, praise, gratitude, but un-grace will suck that out of a life at warp speed. Un-grace is the offspring of perfectionism bred with disappointment.

But as a redeemed child of God and a divinely appointed mother of my son, I can live in grace. I can model forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. I can praise and worship with my heart, my attitude, my words, and my song. I can show Dayton that it's okay to be imperfect, to mess up, to struggle (because I don't think for a moment the struggle is over just because I had an a-ha moment), because God is bigger than our biggest messes and His grace never runs out. I want to show Dayton with my life, not just teach him with my words, that gaining the whole world is worth absolutely nothing, if you lose your soul in the process.

If were to somehow meet every standard I've encountered in the world, to teach Dayton everything he's supposed to learn right on schedule, to prepare every meal with creativity and perfect nutrition, to do it all, it would mean NOTHING, nothing, nothing, NOTHING, if were to also lose my soul to un-grace in the process. Heaven forbid it. I'd rather lose a whole lot of the perfect and keep my soul alive in grace instead. Hallelujah! Amen.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Do The Work

Wherever you set foot, you will be on land that I have given you...Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.--Joshua 1:3, 9

Then David continued, " Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly."--1 Chronicles 28:20

But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God's entire house. And we are God's house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in Christ.--Hebrews 3:6

Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?--1 Corinthians 6:19

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!--Psalm 84:1

In the last couple of months my dream has shifted from inspiring youths to choose the straight and narrow, to ministering to women. While I have a list a mile long of things I want teenagers to know, things I wish I had known or understood better or understood at all, I have no such list for women. Fact is, it terrifies me. I'm young, I'm a bit awkward and nervous when it comes to teaching, and I feel that I have no authority to tell anyone anything. My dog barely listens to me and my son rarely does...although I blame that on the fact that neither of them as a real great grasp on English yet.

But I was fortunate enough to hear a sermon several years ago about Joshua--the man and the book. Using the first chapter of Joshua as his text this preacher explained that if the man had only trusted God, every single step he took would've been blessed. It says so right there in black and white. And then the famous, be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous, haven't I commanded you? BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! I think God wanted Joshua to be strong and courageous.

But if Joshua was anything like me, his next question would've been: how? How can I be strong, courageous, not terrified, not discouraged? Because quite frankly, taking the promised land, chasing down a dream, is daunting, especially when you feel unqualified.

So I've done a little word study using my brand spanking new Bible and it's wonderful concordance. I've never had a Bible with such a good concordance and I've made good use of it! I've read every verse with the words strong, strength, strengthen, courage, and courageous. I've written down all of them that made any sense out of context and I've tried to draw some conclusions.

I'm not quite there yet, so I won't waste your time with my fragmented throughts. But I did notice something. Something I'm still mulling over but felt ready to share. Re-read those verses I put at the very beginning of this post. Do you see how they connect?

Be strong and courageous. Don't be afraid or discouraged. Do the work. God is with you. (David is telling Solomon the same things that Joshua was told way back in Joshua 1). Why? How? Because God won't fail you. HE will see to it that all the work is finished. The work on the temple. And not just Solomon's temple, but THE temple. The church, the body and bride of Christ. And more intimately, me. I am a living temple, the dwelling place of the Spirit. And I am lovely, or being made lovely, complete, perfect.

Do the work...even when you're tired and it feels like a big floppity failure. Do the work...even when you can't think a straight thought. Do the work...even when you feel unqualified and nervous and scared. Because God is with you and God will see that the work is finished. The work in me, the work being done through me.

The Spirit of the Lord of Heaven's Armies dwells in me--whom shall I fear? What shall I fear? Failure, exhaustion, inadequacy. Ridiculous.

Here's the thing...right now, the work ahead of me is not just women's ministry, that's just the dream. To write like Beth Moore, to teach like Kay Arthur, to instruct like Lysa TerKeurst, to encourage like Angela Thomas. One part of the work for right now is to lead a women's Bible study and to teach the youth Sunday school, however bumbling. But the other part, the greater part, of the work in my life, the one I really feel unqualified for is that of wife & mother. Somehow, I didn't feel like such a hapless wife until I started feeling like such a helpless mother. Funny how insecurities can unravel you like pulling the wrong thread in a sweater. This, however, is my calling, my true ministry, my most important work. And I must do the work of mothering and help-meeting, and nurturing the men I love--my husband and my son. Even when I feel like a big floppity failure. Because it's GOD who is seeing that work will be finished on HIS dwelling place--me, my house, and my family. And no matter how I feel about myself in any given moment on any given day, He already dwells in me and therefore, I am already lovely.

And this is my verse, the one I'm clinging to in order to do the work and see it through each day...

The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him--2 Chronicles 16:9

If I am wholly committed, all in, not holding anything back...then He gives me His strength to do the work, to forge on, to see it through. For His glory and for my good, and for the good of the lives I touch. And that's a promise worth clinging to. Standing on even. Standing on the promises of God, my Savior!

And I promise...once I round out some more of my thoughts on this whole strong & courageous thing, I'll share. Because there's some really great stuff there, some wonderful patterns and promises. But in the the work...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...