It's been a while. :) But lately I've had so many thoughts and lessons running through my head and life that I know must be written down. Not out of obligation or duty or the need for responses (although I love those!) but out of a deep need to not forget what God is doing in my life. And always, I think and process better when I write it down. I wrote a great post the other day, a serious one, about seeing God in the suffering and sharing a new Shane & Shane song I discovered and many other deep things. It contains this paragraph, which is where I pulled the title for this post from:
"Romans 8 says this:
'24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.'
Look to what is unseen. WAIT for it. With perseverance."
I've been struggling daily, sometimes hourly lately with a situation in my life and heart. I'm struggling with the feeling/thoughts/conviction about some choices I'm making or have made that maybe others don't agree with. This is vague but I prefer not to share details. Basically though, it comes down to what I believe most mothers/people with struggle with at least once in our lives. For me, probably yearly. What is my role? You read Proverbs 31 and you read of this amazing woman who cares for her family and brings income into her home. You read blogs about utilizing your time as a stay-at-home Mom and helping your family out with the finances while caring for your family. You have friends who's every post on Facebook is evidence of their success in this area, about the money they are bringing in or the lives changed or the success won.
And me, I feel like I'm not doing enough. I'm an incredibly competitive person by nature, and so especially when I feel like someone is doing something I should do, or do better, I get a nasty ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach. And I have a very hard time saying that it's the Holy Spirit. :)
The rub is that I would LOVE to write a book, or update my blog daily, be "famous" in the blogosphere, be wildly successful in an at home business that allows my family to run off to foreign countries and have lots of fun toys. I'd love to decorate a house to my exact tastes no matter the cost, to hire someone to sew designer clothes for my family (because I have given up on being a great seamstress at this point in my imagination), to be known for cooking amazing dinners, etc... And while I think some of these things are so good and so attainable, I'm also desiring relief from the pressure I put on myself.
Romans 8 grates on these desires. Because they are MY desires, born from my sinful selfish flesh. That does NOT mean that for everyone these things are wrong, but the simple act of taking a photo of my children on my phone and immediately posting it to Facebook has convicted my soul. Why do I do this? Is it to share in the joy that I believe is my children? Or is it more often than not to brag on some accomplishment they are doing? Or to make others feel like I'm such a good parent because I took them such and such a place and did something fun with them? Is it to gain recognition as a Mom who's with her children? To be the fun or smart Mom? To share that my child must be super smart or super athletic or super nice? What's my motivation?
I "don't" care about your motivation, that's up to you and God and your husband too. :) But I'm so devastated by my own prideful and competitive heart. When I give in to the pride that says "I will show the world I'm supermom"
And then Romans 8 "why does one still hope in what is seen?". I often feel so inadequate as a person that I look for my validation in what is seen, in portraying to the world that I'm supermom, that I'm doing what I should, that I'm worthy I guess.
"But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."
Oh how that rings hope to my soul, along with conviction. We EAGERLY wait for what is unseen with perseverance. What is unseen in my life? Right now, this baby boy growing inside of me. (Well we get to see him on ultrasound, for which I'm thankful, but overall, he's hidden away in my womb) What is unseen? My children's future. The unseen in their lives that I can hope for and persevere for is that they will be called by God and saved and glorify Him in everything they do for all of eternity. This is the biggie. And how do I hope and persevere for that? By this moment, and the next. By desperately praying and trying and striving to be a Momma who points them to Jesus. And God gives small moments of hope. Like when Levi was asked at an assessment this week to draw what I would say was a plus sign. He did (!) and then said "It's a cross, like where Jesus died". And did I pray that was a testimony to the other person? Of course, but my Momma's heart sung because it was a small glimmer of hope that Levi was understanding what God has done. Do I share that now for praise and a good job Momma? No, because in my failures I know it's only by God's immense grace that my child could understand anything about His love and precious gift.
So how does this all tie together? Let me share my week's/month's events with you for application. I've been struggling, like I said. I LOVE what I do, I love being a wife and mother, but lately, it's overwhelmed me. Yes, I know some of that is from being pregnant and hormones and physically dealing with it all. And when I say overwhelmed, I don't mean in a "I can't cope!" kind of way. I mean overwhelmed in a "Lord is this all worth it? How am I making a difference? Am I really doing what I should?" Kind of insightful way. Insightful, ha! ;) Last weekend my husband went on a camping trip with some guy friends. I had finally had a successful week budgeting our groceries and had already gone shopping before I realized he'd need to provide at least one meal for all of them. So not out of resourcefulness, but out of sheer "I WILL NOT GO BACK TO THE STORE!" craziness I made cinnamon rolls and cookies for them to take. And they were good! (Yes, they ate more than that, but that was the staple I was lacking in his meal.) Guess what? No big pat on the bag or even eaten by all the guys. Pride, demolished. In the same weekend, I was blessed to take my kiddos up to one of the guy's wife's family's cabin for a day on the lake and not alone with my kiddos. It was so fun, and I was just relieved to not be alone with them. Seriously. I was so tired and so desperate for Daddy's help I was just glad to be able to go somewhere. Now, let me say my husband definitely deserved a weekend away, so he's all in the clear here. But my biggest lesson? No pride needed. There is NO way I could have cared for my children in that setting alone. At least not without going crazy. I was overwhelmed by the love shown to myself and my children. I got to try Stand-Up Paddleboarding because others swam and played in the water with my children. I got to eat lunch because others played with and chased them. I got to sit and just visit with friends because another dear couple played puppies and other random kiddo things with my 2 munchkins. Not out of duty or obligation, but out of hearts of love and kindness. I saw Jesus in my friends and their family. Could I have cared for the basic needs of my children alone? Yes, by God's grace. But would my babes have had as much fun or been as loved if I had? Not by a long shot.
See, God knew what He was doing when He designed the body of Christ. He knew we needed each other. And after the weekend, Tuesday morning I woke up knowing I was getting a cold. My pride tried to fight it, and say it'll only last a day or two and I'll be fine. So I worked hard on Tuesday on some projects I wanted to get done. I felt like crud by the end of the day and leftovers for supper it was. Wednesday I knew we had our big anatomy scan for the baby in the afternoon so I worked hard all morning/afternoon on cleaning my house and supper in the crockpot and getting lots done. When we got home and thanked the dear friend who watched our kiddos and ate supper, I knew I'd overdone it. But I wanted a totally clean house for the first time in weeks and for my husband's admiration. I went to bed that night sicker but looking at my house like "finally". And let's be clear here, there are windows that needed washing and dusting to be done, but overall, toys were picked up and floors cleaned and the bathroom sanitary and all the dirty laundry fit in the hampers and all the clean laundry was put away. Now, 36 hours later, guess what? There are toys on the floor, toothpaste in the sink, laundry to be folded, dishes to be washed and crumbs on the floor. Does it matter? No, because we live here, but my temporary pleasure in what is seen was so quickly undone. Now, no harm in being thankful for a clean house or HAVING a clean house. It's a good thing. But I was feeling way too proud of myself for getting it done while sick. And since then? No denying, I probably prolonged my sickness. Today, I'm down for the count. I still fed my children and ran an errand and played with them, but ugh how cruddy I feel. No supermom awards today. Except this, I am a mom, and God has given me the day with my family.
All these examples to say this. We need each other. I need my husband to pick up pizza for supper and take the kiddos on a walk when I'm done in. I need friends who don't expect me to do it all and who love to play with my kids. I need older women who enjoying giving me a break or going to an appointment by watching my children. I need a friend who drives her daughter to baby-sit to save me buckling in my kiddos twice. We NEED each other. God never expects us to do this life alone. The gift of salvation should teach us this. It's not by MY works of righteousness, but in HIS mercy He saved me.
So what does this mean? It means that my guilt/frustration/heaviness that I place on myself for wondering if others think I could be doing this pregnancy thing better is SO wrong. Do I care if you think I look fat or pregnant? Yes, unfortunately. But here's what I do know to be truth. I was able to run and bike far longer into this pregnancy than any previous. My pants may not fit still, but my son is kicking me. I may not be an excellent example of helping my family out financially by bringing in lots of extra income, but God has given my husband a new job that pays more and still allows me to do things that save us money. Even now as I write these things, I sound justifiable.
So let's backtrack. I am writing this before you today to say, relax. Open the Scripture. Talk to your spouse. Get your requirements and expectations from God and your spouse alone. Not Pinterest, not your friends lives, not Facebook pressure, not your own warped idea of what you should be doing, not your own prideful ambitions, none of the "seen" things.
Does your husband want to take trips to exotic places, or does he simply want supper at home every night? Does he want ironed clothes, or simply a made bed everyday? Does he want you to spend your time earning money from home (possibly while using the TV as a baby-sitter, because I'm not sure how else you do it?!), or does he want you to shop less and be home more?
What does God say is important in your children's lives? To know all their letters by the time they are 2 or to be able to know He wants their entire lives to be about Him?
Am I saying you can't do both sides? Nope, not at all. That's why I'm saying it's between you and God and your spouse. Because obviously here's my confession. I'm a horrible example of getting it right. And that's why I'm broken, needing more grace than ever before.
Because I can't go for a run, I can't make an incredibly healthy meal my children will eat for every meal, I CAN'T do it all. Can I do some of it some of the time? Absolutely. But my heart needs changing. And if that means that in the in between time we have pancakes for supper and candy for a snack, will my children die? No. I don't think we have to choose between health and spiritual or health and character building. But I AM A HUMAN. And here's the truth from Scripture. I'm dying. No matter what I do someday my body will fail and I will stand before my creator and answer for my life. Do I believe I'm covered by God's grace? Yes. Should I strive everyday to become more like Christ and therefore more of a set-apart person? Yes! Will it all be perfect tomorrow? Nope. Not even close.
I look into my heart and I see serious character flaws that are affecting my family far more than what I serve for supper does. I see anger and short-temperedness that needs addressing. Because I may feed their bodies healthy food, but if I'm crabby during supper that will have a far greater impact on eternity. I want my children to see a Momma who adores and loves their Daddy and shows him appreciation far more than they see a Momma who wants Daddy to "get it right" (ahem, her way) so that life looks perfect.
So I'm praying and desperately begging God today for that perseverance. To look to what is not seen. To realize even greater how my children are eternal beings who need God's grace and they will learn that from us. To love them for who God made them, not for what they do or don't do. To sit down on the dirty kitchen floor for hugs instead of saying "go play, Momma's busy". And yes, to do my dishes and teach them to help. Because LIFE does need to happen. They do need to go play. But while knowing if they need me, I'm here for them, not just a clean house.
This doesn't wrap up in a tidy neat applicable bow for everyone, because it's my life. Your conviction today may be that you need to clean more, that you NEED to make more money, that you need to ____. Because you're you. You're not me. We're not the same because we both see Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter. God made us dependent. So please, hold me accountable, help to say "wow, please help me do what you're doing" "thank you for helping me!" All of the above. Because that doesn't show our failures. It shows our desire to grow more into what God designed. We're not in this alone. So I for one need to stop pretending I can do it alone. So here's my weakness, out for you to see. I'm a Momma of 2 little and growing another life inside me. I'm tired, I'm not perfect, I'm not incredibly strong. I'm me. I'm the one God gave to them, and by His grace I'll be more of who He needs me to be for them everyday.