This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Mothers are something to be celebrated, no doubt. Among the greatest blessings in my life are the amazing parents with whom God graced me. But Mother’s Day has been a major source of grief for me, flamboyantly flaunting all that I longed for and couldn’t have.
Instead of teaching people to ignore or deny their shame, we should use it for the purpose God intended: to point to Him and our need for Him. We don’t need to sit in shame, but if we truly want to “conquer it,” we must run to the One who covers it with his blood. He is more than able to save and free us from even the darkest pits.
In our increasingly secular culture, ultimate loyalty to self as the greatest commandment really isn’t that surprising. I wonder though if many of us who claim Christ aren’t still deeply committed to our culture’s highest value instead of our God’s. With all our talk of love languages, Buzzfeed quizzes and personality tests, I can’t help but question how much of our belief system is entangled with the lust to express our individuality instead of – or at the expense of – pursuing Christ?
Discontentment isn’t a word reserved just for single people or the poor or those with health issues. Discontentment is a real sin issue for all believers, caused by the lack of belief that God is enough. It can’t be fixed by gifts, relationships, promotions, or any temporary satisfaction.
Underlying my friends’ perspectives is an idea that sorrow and joy are oppositional; as if rather than sorrow and joy, the paradigm should be sorrow versus joy. But the Word of God and the very life of Jesus show this dichotomy to be a false one.
The problem is, these deepest desires of our hearts as parents are not in line with the reality of life God’s Word tells us about . . . that in this fallen world this child will hurt; this child will suffer; this child will eventually die.
“Your marriage is not your own. Stop treating it like it is. You WILL destroy it if you continue to act as if it belongs only to you. Not because you necessarily want to, but you can’t help yourself apart from me. If you aren’t living for Me, you are only living for yourself. At any moment in your given life, if you aren’t living to glorify Me---you are striving for your own glory. Stop. Or you will destroy everything I have given you.”
When Harry Met Sally made the question famous, but it’s been one we’ve been throwing around for at least the last century. Society has changed; the days of men in the field and women in the kitchen are by and large distant memories. Today, men and women are side by side in just about every arena. Men and women do not just meet in order to get married and have babies, but are co-workers and equals in the business world. This has forced men and woman to learn how to interact with one another outside of romantic relationships.
Being a leader in the church has become this “cool” thing to do, because through the far-reaching, self-governed and for the most part, unsupervised platforms of social media, ostensibly anyone (by popular opinion) can now build themselves a platform. I’m afraid however we have forgotten that in the Bible, many of the “Christian Famous” got beheaded and stoned to death.
What’s made being a leader (or Christian Famous) the cool thing to do?
If we want both men and women to respond in the freedom of Christ and to live using our gifts to His glory, we need a space in our churches where men are specifically taught by men, and women specifically taught by women (not exclusively by the same gender but alongside of the regular preaching of God's Word of the pastor) . If we continue in the pattern of not having solid sound teaching for women by women then women will either start leading as men or will go outside of the church. Neither of these is good.
In craving the comforts of compulsive work I meet anxiety when I am unable to attain the desired intensity of toil. And you know what this tells me? That I think far, far more highly of myself (and my work) than I ought (Rom 12:3).
If you were to ask a small child what they wanted to be when they grew up, they would answer something like, a doctor, a pop star, a dentist, a millionaire, it’s wired deep in us from an early age we want to be something great. We want success and fame. As we get older we still want to be great but we also want to do it right while being great. We can all handle being great so we think, but nothing trips us up in life more than when we fail. We don’t have a clue on how to give ourselves the grace to fail.
If I’m a terrible parent, I’ll have terrible children. If I’m a horrible wife, my marriage suffers. If I don’t teach my bible courses well, these women could walk away not knowing the gospel. If I counsel someone poorly, they could miss the healing of God. If I don’t organize a meal plan, my family could be eating PB&J all week. If I don’t budget well, we’ll go into debt. All real scenarios, all real consequences. The fear however, is lodged in the idea that if the worse case scenarios happens and I drop the ball, the consequence is going to give me a result that I don’t want.
If you have a family or are engaged in a community of people, it doesn’t take long to find someone dealing with addiction. Whether it is a member of your family, small group participant or a member of a congregation, there is someone near you who is struggling.
What do you do when someone you love has an addiction?
If I apply the gospel to my desire for marriage, I come to realize that God won’t give me a husband because I’ve achieved it and reached “equilibrium.” If God does give me my husband, it will be in His own time, in His infinite wisdom, and as a gift, not as a prize that I’ve earned, but as something that is for my good and His glory. What freedom! I no longer have to hold myself to impossible standards. I’m free to trust God with my life and I’m free from the fear of messing up or failing to attain “equilibrium.”
Repeat after me.
I am a sinner. (I am a sinner).
Forgive me of my sins. (Forgive me of my sins).
I believe Jesus is the Son of God. (I believe Jesus is the Son of God).
Please come into my heart. (Please come into my heart).
Welcome to the Kingdom! You’re in!
. . . while God is a brilliant strategist, incredibly faithful, always surprising us and an ever-present help, He never promised that it would be easy. He never promised that it wouldn’t be exhausting, that our kids would always feel safe on the subway or that our savings accounts wouldn’t suffer. But He did promise that with Him we could have deep satisfaction and joy that only comes from having an eternal hope and eternal purpose.
Our walls and towers aren’t crafted of brick and mortar instead they are crafted of fear, worry, and anxiety. They aren’t just our fears or worries, other people are also contributing to them. While I’m speaking figuratively, when we quote the lines from Proverbs 4:23, “guard your heart” this is what we picture . . . a strong wall protecting us from pain and heartache. When others say this to us they are adding their own fears and worries to our self-made walls, adding to the over protectiveness of our hearts.
I realized my jerk syndrome had gotten out of hand when a new friend genuinely apologized to me for using cloth diapers and making her own baby food. I cringed inside as she spoke realizing the very thing I hate about the mommy world – pervasive comparison – was what I inflicted upon her as I tried to explain my aversion to “mommy-ness.” Yes. I am the reverse-discrimination jerk mother. And what a fool I am to think myself outside of the supposed “mommy war” just because I despise it.
The very fact that I hate it tells me I am very much inside of it.
I'm sorry I underestimated you. And I'm sorry I've never truly been as impressed as I should have been. Yes, some of us have it easier than others. But the truth is, parenting can make you feel like the newest character on Looney Tunes. One minute it's all "Let's have another!" And the next it's "How is it possible to be angry at a 5-week-old?"