We were all single at some point. But sometimes it seems as though we fail to remember that period of our lives when we interact with our single friends. We say stupid things and give advice from our experiences as we try to help our single friends figure out how to live life well and of course, find a spouse.
The roller coaster of hoping and lamenting in times of waiting can really be exhausting. I deeply do not prefer waiting for God to open His hand to give me good things that I desire. In my current season, I am waiting on the Lord for a second child. I want to be hopeful and pray expectantly. But my hopes often seem to get too high, which I only realize when they crash down around me. If I’m being honest I am so tempted toward apathy during seasons of waiting. I want to avoid the whole emotional ordeal altogether.
I often feel like a fish out of water among women. I’m the woman who cringes when she gets an invite to a women’s retreat, especially if it has teacups on the cover. I was never the girl who daily dreamed of marriage or motherhood. And even now as a wife and mother, I’d rather do push-ups than craft at your kitchen table. I used to feel ashamed in the church because I didn’t fit the mold of the Christian woman I often felt was modeled and taught.
But here I am, a women’s ministry leader.
I fully understand that my children only have one mother, and that’s me. It is my job to anticipate their needs and help them grow into mature adults. That is why there is hands down absolutely nothing else in this world I want my girls to know more than the fact that I love Jesus and that their parents desire to give their lives for Him. But the way they know that is by watching us actually DO that.
I was so concerned about the appearance of motherhood, that I was barely surviving actual motherhood. But putting my hope for fulfillment in by identity as a mama will never fully satisfy me . . . just like being a wife, climbing the corporate ladder, buying that great pair of shoes or having the perfect home . . . will never fully satisfy me. Yet I run to these things time and time again.
I am sitting on the floor looking through boxes of old pictures from college and I’m cringing. And not just because college is now fourteen years behind me and the hairstyles were bad (which they were). Picture after picture of revealing dresses and low-cut shirts. I was a Christian, but modesty was not on my radar.
Most Christian parents are afraid to talk to their kids about this subject. We are afraid that we might awaken some desire in them that wasn’t there before. We are afraid that they will be curious if we are too descriptive. We are afraid they will be curious if we are not descriptive enough. We are overwhelmed with the goal of preserving their purity. Our own past experiences cause shame or fear.
In my single years people – mostly married people – told me to wait, be patient, be content, and to not be “too picky.” I felt placed in a side category – the less than category – countless times because of my marital status. I felt like the married people I knew had forgotten what it was like to be single and therefore, how to love a single person well.
I just want to say as a mother who has never aborted my child that if you are a mother who has, I am with you. Your story and mine may be not be the same. Fine. But at our core, we are no different.
That’s when I realized that in the midst of my need, I didn’t actually want God to provide for me; I wanted Him to make me comfortable. I didn’t want enough to cover this specific need. I wanted enough that I would never have to rely on the help of others again. I said I relied on God, but I really just wanted to make ends meet on my own terms. I didn’t want other people to be involved. I wanted Him to provide in a way that I could just meet the demands I faced by myself.
We feel so incredibly anxious because the things we are pursuing – convenience, happiness and comfort – are forever fleeting and therefore naturally create instability, stress and frustration – a chasing after the wind. But godly pursuits lead to the development of a foundation able to withstand suffering, stress and struggle. So we need to test our hearts and minds to assess our pursuits.
Though we may do it in different local or global contexts, all of our service brings glory to His name. As Christians, we want to glorify one or the other and it’s usually the one we are personally more passionate about. But can’t both be done in a way that gives glory to God?
Our most vital task as parents is to know God so well that what pleases and impresses and disappoints Him affects us, and our parenting daily. We want to know Him so well that what He has done and is capable of doing is obvious to little watching eyes; so well that what He says to us in all of our circumstances sounds loudly to tiny listening ears.
As a disciple-maker I am pointing women to something and someone greater than myself. In return, I get the distinct privilege of watching people become greater than me. Not only that, I get to become greater than me. As I experience God's redemption in beautiful and shocking ways, I become more like Christ as I strive with my disciples towards holiness. This is Christian discipleship.
This summer, the brothers and sisters of my congregation have gone through an unusual amount of physical suffering. Cancer, heart attack, strokes, sickle cell and death aggressively reared their truculent heads. One Sunday burdened by these ailments, the congregation joined hands across the aisle and bombarded heaven with desperate pleas of healing for particular individuals who were in digressing situations. Within two weeks, two people had died and a third was declared to be unrecoverable. It wasn’t long after that when a member asked me a sincere and relevant question: Should we have prayed for healing with so much boldness?
Whether we realize it or not, most efforts that appear to be merciful are, in fact, anything but merciful; they use the poor for our own gratification to give our people ministry opportunities or some other short-sighted end. Do the people we minister to really need this type of ministry?
Submission has often been perceived as a straightjacket for women; a one-size-fits-all solution for the battle of the sexes within the walls of Christian institutions. We’ve divorced submission from our relationship with God, forgetting to define this relational hierarchy by His character rather than ours. Then we transferred this broken picture onto our conception of God Himself, warping our understanding of who He is and the submission to which He has called us.
With only an hour or so to catch up, a few friends and I were at a table outside waiting for our lunch. A stranger had stumbled up, taken a prolonged stare at the counseling book on our table, said (aloud) to himself, “RICHARD! Here’s your chance,” and pulled out the fourth chair.
My miscarriages matter, but God’s goodness still reigns. And how do those things coincide? That’s really where I set out to understand – how is it that I feel like a walking coffin now but God is still perfect in His goodness. How do those two things work out? And that’s really what I had to figure out in my own heart.
How we use our words on social media verses how we would speak face-to-face doesn’t always match up. Everyday on our newsfeeds we see lobbying for social causes, cyber-bulling, shaming, celebrating and grieving. We hungrily consume information about other people’s lives, freely feeling we have a right to know the details and express our opinions.