I have big teeth, and I cannot lie. This is a fact. They attract green leafy food. I could try to defend against it by not showing my teeth–painfully keeping my mouth closed while at dinner with friends or in the company of strangers. There’s a problem, though. My mouth was made to smile, to talk, to laugh, to inquire of others, and my gummy smile is part of that. The experience of that joy is worth more to me than my worry about a broccoli branch sticking out of my canines.
This has taken a long time to embrace. In fact, I wanted to fall into the floor when Greg told me I had something in my teeth on our first “date.” I was 23, but I felt all the insecurities of 8th grade burst into my being.
Why did this uncomfortable moment serve as a gift to me? 1) I knew he was not afraid to tell me the truth. He was not worried about impressing me but helping me. Flattery and charm help you feel good for the moment, but they leave you empty and hurting in the end. 2) We got uncomfortable out of the way. That is risky. He still pursued me knowing I had a propensity for wearing my meal in my grill. To this day, he tells me. I laugh and ask for direction, and we move on.
There are things about each of us (much deeper than food in the teeth) that are flawed, that carry wounds, that, in shame, we try to hide or manufacture a facade to cover. Some of those things are very clear to others and not to us (as food in the teeth). Some we push deep down hoping to never face or reveal. And, in doing so, we minimize our gifts, our hearts, and our joys that are meant to be shared with others. We also miss out on the joy of relationships and community–where unconditional love has a place to grow.
We live armored lives, and therefore, we encourage others to live that way. We think we are self-protecting, but we are really living 1/2 lives. EVERY SINGLE PERSON has hang-ups, insecurities, places of shame, imperfections, places where we have or are going to royally fail. What we do with those realities defines the life we live and how we empower or enslave others.
Are you risking others seeing the food in your teeth? If not, what are you afraid of happening? Is what you are afraid of worse than what you are missing out on by not being vulnerable?
Embrace with me #getrealwednesday in the simplest of things today. The world is a MUCH scarier place when we hide and cover. It doesn’t have to be your deepest secrets that you let out, but embrace the reality that you DO NOT have it all together. Smile, laugh, talk and floss your teeth!
When you feel remembered–when someone acknowledges and leans in, it is so powerful. You feel seen and heard and chosen. There’s nothing more deflating than having to introduce yourself to a person for the 49th time, and they have no clue who you are. It feels empty. That’s why I love to connect with people–we need to know that we are valued. It changes how we interact with and invest in others. It reminds us that we are not alone and that we are a unique person in the middle of the masses.
A random gift I have is remembering people–what they do, where they are from, what motivates them, their name, etc. Because of 43 years of involvement in school, ministry, interests, there have been a lot of experiences and a lot of people, and my files are pretty full. So, I am getting more confused from time to time because it’s different to remember layers of connections from a combination of places, times, seasons. It makes me sad when, because of that, I forget someone.
The last few days, I have been studying in the Psalms again. There are several repeated phrases throughout the 150 chapters. ‘Remember. Do not forget.’ In fact, Psalm 106 traces the history of the Hebrew people in a series of God remembering them, taking care of them and them forgetting and ignoring Him.
The Hebrew people did not remember:
Did not consider His wondrous works (have you heard the one about parting the sea????)
Did not remember the abundance of His steadfast love but rebelled at the sea
They soon forgot His works and did not wait for His counsel
They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt
They exchanged the glory of God for something they could touch and see
they served their idols which became a snare to them
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan (sound familiar?)
Psalm 28 speaks of evil men not regarding the works of the LORD of the work of His hand
But, notice what God remembered and the reason why.
YET He saved them for His NAME’s SAKE that He might make known His mighty power
On their behalf, he rebuked the sea and made it dry, He led them through the desert, saved them from the enemy, redeemed them
He showed His anger at their rebellion and said He would destroy them and Moses stood in the gap for them, He gave consequences for their unfaithfulness as they were taken over, His anger was kindled against His people and He abhorred His heritage
Many times He delivered them (though they were unfaithful)
for their sake He REMEMBERED HIS COVENANT (promise) and relented according to His steadfast love
The root of our actions comes out of the fact that we live as though God is not there. We forget His words. We live oblivious to His works and His movement. We fashion for ourselves idols of pragmatism (what works for us for our goals), romanticism (what feels best to us and what seems fulfilling), consumerism (striving and ingesting and going after more) instead of regarding His name and His glory. We do not listen long enough, make a practice of remembering His faithfulness, or bother even knowing Him to know that He is much more fulfilling and brings peace to our hearts in ways the things we fashion can never do. (Check out 1 John 2:15-17) So, we come up with a plan of our own.
The phrase that is haunting my heart–‘But they soon forgot His works and they did not wait for His counsel.’ and ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’
I do not want to forget who God is…or be found to have fashioned a god in my own image. That seems to be our M.O. these days–one of these two things. The only way I REMEMBER Him and KNOW Him is to hear from His word by the power of His Spirit. When we use our own circumstances, our own desires, our own wisdom to figure out what He is for and what He is against, etc. we have made it about us. We are missing out on the gift of knowing Him and seeing the worth of His name. We, in effect, put words in His mouth–and He will not be mocked.
So, I encourage me and you to REMEMBER who God actually Is and to NOT FORGET His works and purposes. May we not devalue His infinite value, holiness, righteousness, justice, steadfast love by brushing over who He is like a chance introduction at a party. Let’s lean in. Let’s dig deep into His character poured out in His word and throughout the thread of our lives. He says and warns…’Forget Me not.’
At dinner the other night, my youngest said “Grown-ups know everything.”
Then, the seven year old chimed with…”No way, they only know about some things.”
I laughed to myself, and I remembered having that unbridled confidence in grown-ups. I think of all the adults I grew up around and that I considered any age of 30 and above as gray-headed and ancient and somebody’s mom, dad or teacher. In my mind as a child and early teenager, I did not consider adults to have struggles or doubts or to be at a loss for direction. They were “adults,” and they had it together. They had quick answers that were always right. (I didn’t have a category for people in prison–my life was small town sheltered.)
Then, I began growing and experiencing “real life.” Everything had structure until graduating from high school. It’s like the ages of 18-24 are a no-man’s land if you need structure and stability. We call it “freedom,” but really there was a lot of confusion in the midst. We are trying on different hats and life choices and don’t even recognize who we are in the mirror. And then, we have a diploma or a job or a ring on and supposedly, we are adults that have answers.
Then these words come out of our mouths…. “wait, this is it? This is what I have been preparing for? Can I get a manual? I’m sure there has been a mistake! I’m the only one who is a royal mess inside!”
What we experience is grief that life is not what we hoped or thought or were promised that it would be. Facing that loss that we experience is the first step in maturity. Some of us never make it out of the cycle of grief–looking for what we were owed. We may jump from job to job or relationship to relationship, numb ourselves with what we can buy or consume, or blame everyone for our issues, but that grief is still there lodged and real growth is stunted.
The real maturity of adulthood? Knowing and embracing we don’t have the answers within ourselves. That doesn’t mean we throw our hands up, but we examine ourselves.
A few months ago, Greg and I had our biggest parenting hurdle thus far, and we were at a complete loss as to how to lead a situation with our oldest, and we had to make a fast decision. We were stonewalled. I asked Greg…”what do we do?” He said–“I don’t know any better than you…we are making it up as we go!!!” There was a freedom in hearing him say that because I often go back into “adults should have all the answers” mode. Thank the LORD that we have people who have walked before us on this journey and we also have God’s guidance as we make decisions.
Then, one by one, I began thinking of all those adults that were there when I grew up. I thought of ministers, teachers, moms and dads, doctors, young couples. I wanted to go back and to hug them because I realized all that they were carrying when I just saw them as an adult who had it all together. They were carrying pain, doubts, insecurities, marital troubles, shame… Yet, they loved me and made me feel safe.
Adulthood–man. It has been my favorite time in life and the most terrifying and hard time in life. It has been the time that I have known my need for One beyond me in the greatest of ways. I have seen myself be a mess, and I know that I cannot put the pieces back together. When we don’t have the answers that is actually the greatest gift because it drives us to look for the One who does. And, He greets us with grace and love, and he sets the bones we have broken along the way to grow into Him. He replaces our ways of coping with His spirit and His truth. We can freely admit that we are broken and that He is the healer. And, like the children of Israel in the desert, He give us what we need for TODAY. It is a trust exercise over and over and over. We want a downloaded plan for the next 10 years, but growth and life and trust do not work that way. We have the freedom to admit where our Hope and our Strength and our Wisdom comes from. Beautifully, we can teach our children to look to Jesus because life will not be what they expect or want it to be, but there is a deeper joy in the midst if they walk into the grief instead of running from it.
I am NOT saying you do not have worth. I am NOT saying that you do not have value. I am NOT saying you cannot do hard things. I am NOT saying you are not tough. I am NOT saying you are a failure. I am NOT saying you are less than your neighbor.
I am saying that the voice inside you that feels behind, that sees you cannot spin all the plates, that feels less than adequate for all the adulting, that is constantly on a performance wheel that seems to go nowhere…there’s a reason it is there. Our reality and our experience show us that we fall short all the time. We cannot be all things to all people doing all the things all the time. Period.
Maybe the quote should read–you do not have to perform to someone’s version of enough to have value. OR, your value is not defined by the world’s standard or by your performance.
When we feed ourselves the line that we are enough, we are lying about a huge reality in life. We are incomplete, and at the core, I think we know it. That uncontrollable longing that you feel (or run from) when your mind slows, that anxiety in your belly when looking at life, that wondering in your mind about the deepest questions of the universe, that thing that you have tried to overcome over and over and keep missing, those monumental regrets…all of that is pointing to something more and our lack. It is a need we cannot meet or problem solve.
What happens when we grasp the reality that we are not enough?
We don’t want to face it because that tears apart the scaffolding of our lives. We all try to make sense of and build our lives in different ways with the same problem. We may think if we do it perfectly, or if we are useful to others , or if we produce and achieve enough and gain status, or if we dig deep within enough we can construct meaning, if we learn and conquer knowledge, if we come up with a plan to secure life, if we experience life to the fullest and adventure, if we take charge and lead the way for the underdog or if we can bridge the gap for peace that THEN we will be enough. We will be complete.
There is huge freedom in accepting the reality we are not enough even though it is uncomfortable. I think that this is when true Life begins and is lived. We then see a need for truth, strength, and meaning beyond ourselves. We can quit performing and striving and listen.
Why can we not be enough? We go back to the beginning. We look to the Creator who created in His own image; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27) The Image of God: That is very worthy. And, Then, something jarred everything…made it hard, less clear, brought toil, separated us from the Beauty of God and the peace of being WITH God: The whole process began with “did God really say?” “Surely He didn’t mean…He’s lying to you. He is keeping power and honor, love, fulfillment and glory from you–your rightful identity.” Then, the three letter word was born: Sin. We took understanding into our own hands. We defied the One who lovingly created us to commune with Him. We said: We are enough without You.
That leads us to today–the anxiety, the striving, the loneliness, the frustration, the gaining ground only to fall back down, the one-second glories that take longer and longer to achieve. The line of fulfillment we were fed was a bald-faced lie. Our “freedoms” enslave us all the more. It is grace to see that we are not enough.
There’s a problem: We cannot make it better on our own.
The beautiful part of the truth of God’s word? The promise of redemption was hinted at in the same chapter that the Fall of enough occurred. AND…the Old Testament gives the picture of what enough is through the Law of God. That law is the picture of perfection–of God’s character, otherness, set-apartness (I may have made up a word). AND…trying to be WITH and like God by performance was an epic fail. The way we are reconciled to God is through the enough of Jesus…in fact, the perfection of Jesus’s life on this earth AND His death in the place of ours. There were dire consequences for our rebellion and insurgence–death and separation. God, who is rich in mercy, made Jesus who knew no sin, no rebellion, to be sin for us. He was punished, killed, separated from God (whom He had communed from eternity past) in order that reconciliation might be made and in order that those trusting in Him may be called children of God through the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. For those who see they are not enough and put their trust in Jesus work on the Cross on their behalf, they are given new hearts and lives. The One who is more than enough lives in their spirit, guides them, encourages them, reminds them, strengthens them, renews them.
So, in ourselves, we are not enough. We do not have the tools. We do not have the heart. We do not have the strength.
In Him, though. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We find joy, freedom, grace, no condemnation, identity, purpose, hope, and deep and abiding love In Him. That helps us take a deep breath. It helps us feel lighter even when things are HARD and the way is very CLOUDY. We are able to see others in the grace afforded to us instead of railing against them for not being enough. There is freedom in this reality and in the power of God in the midst.
So, where are you today? Striving, surrendering, exhausted, or at peace? I pray that you take your heart and your life to the One that is More than Enough.
It all started with a
closet project. Little did I know that
it would turn into so much more.
Our home has more than
ample storage, but the problem is we have dumped stuff there. The stuff that is falling out of the closets
and the basement means there is stuff everywhere in our house, as well. Storage is of no value if you do not use it
That brings me to our
downstairs guest room’s closet. It has
looked like this for 3 ½ years.
I would tidy the
middle part of it when things were falling out, but I never took the time to
tackle the big job. It seemed
overwhelming and time consuming, and nobody has time for that with 2 active
boys, no headspace and a side of tired. It
wasn’t urgent, so it kept getting stuffed around what was urgent.
This week has afforded a few days where there was no agenda. It has been a wearying season where there has not been room to unpack my mind and heart let alone a closet that carries baggage that I have to sort through. I found myself thinking of the closet, and it wasn’t a “should” but a “this would be healthy to do.”
What was in the closet? Letters, pictures, albums (nostalgic girl
here), boxes that had not been unpacked since our move 3 ½ years ago, storage
bins of art materials, boxes and storage bins filled with random objects where
I had to “hide stuff” from company, random throw pillows, important business
I knew it would not be
a fast job, and I knew I needed to be mentally and physically prepared to
So, I began taking stuff out which made a bigger overwhelming mess.
There were times I didn’t know what in the world to do next. I thought—“what have I done? I could be watching Christmas movies, building a puzzle or taking a nap.” (All my go-to escapes). I toyed with closing the door, and not using the room again.
However, it was
time. It took me a day and a half—going through
every box, every paint bottle, every random notebook.
was required to see what should be kept and purposefully used, what should be discarded,
and what was worthy to give away. I
examined things that were unfinished projects and asked the hard question—“Am I
holding on to this because I ‘should’ or is it a worthy thing to follow through
with in this season?” I add, in this season, because that’s where I get myself
bogged down. I see the possibilities in
all things, but I end up going nowhere.
Then, I began placing
things that I found purposeful back into the closet with a rhyme and a
reason. They are accessible now. I know what’s there—it is not a mystery. There is room there to put other things that
fit into certain categories. There is
room for a guest to hang clothes and put a suitcase (aka I could actually be
hospitable to welcome others).
As I was walking
through the process, I thought, this would be an awesome blog post—there are so
many life parallels. Then, the Lord
awakened me at 2 am in the morning and started really dealing with my heart,
He asked me to look
without background noise or distraction, without the sounds of the day at what
I was storing in my life. Jen, What is superfluous
and crowding out what is truly life giving?
What do you think is a harmless habit that literally is stealing room in
your soul to have margin and peace?
Where is the baggage that you just keep stuffing (like your closet and
basement) that is literally encroaching on every area of your life? Jen, do you feel peace and purpose or just a
lot of noise? It is time to look and to
deal and to see what you want to expel from your heart and your head and what you
want to pass on and what you want to keep in an orderly fashion.
It is scary—actually terrifying—to
ponder what is really in our hearts, huh?
It takes time, courage, grit, humility.
The real beauty though, is that the One who created, sustains and
redeems us, will guide us in GRACE. If
we will take the time to truthfully and bravely tackle our stuff, He will meet
us in the middle of all the piles that seem completely impossible and
overwhelming. He will teach us what to
hold on to, what to let go of permanently and temporarily, and what to
literally destroy in the trash. God is
not a God of confusion or disorder, but I will tell you, it takes time to sort
through the things we have experienced and stuffed trying to handle it on our
We think our fear is
telling us the truth, but fear is a liar.
Fear tells us to throw it in there and ignore it—stuff it. Fear tells us, “He really doesn’t know what
He is doing—this is a much better plan to numb yourself or to take control on
your terms.” Fear says, “did He really
say or mean this?” Once we make a habit of listening to that
fear, we become weary of substance. We
run out of space in our closets and basements and our junk pours forth into the
public areas of life. We cannot hide our
stuff. There is no margin to deal with
When we walk (however
TERRIFIED we are) with The Lord, He who calls you is FAITHFUL to walk with us
and transform us. It’s gonna look messy
as we continually bring piles before Him, but it is going to be freeing in all
the ways. He calls us to draw near to Him
to sort what is good and purposeful and life-giving and honoring in our
lives. There is space and margin and
ROOM when we take COURAGE to go there with Him.
So, I encourage each
of us to look intently into His word and His purposes and lay our lives next to
Let us be brave, reach out to others when we
want to hide and when we feel that our closet’s contents will literally
suffocate us. The truth is…they
will, apart from Him. In the midst of our piles, the truth of the Gospel allows
us to draw near to Him with confidence because Jesus has paid our debts with
His life and death and resurrection. He
says “remain in me, and you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do
My counselor often says–“take time to write that down, Jen.”
How can we so easily forget the beautiful provisions and lessons that are so life changing? We have amnesia of the moment. Whatever is right in front of us gets our attention.
So, I am writing it down–“blogging it forth”–“setting the Ebenezer up” to remind me of moments of thankfulness this year. It has been a huge year in my heart–growth-a-palooza with a side of a long way to go.
In NO particular order, the Ebenezers go to…
*A reentry back into writing. My soul was missing the way that writing makes me dig and process. For a 7 on the Enneagram (which tries to avoid all pain), you can see this is a healthy practice for me. I can take myself WAY LESS SERIOUSLY than I did when I started this blog 11 years ago January 1.
*The Enneagram. Seriously, I think in terms of these 9 numbers now. If you are thinking…”oh yeah I took this cute little test on that,” Stop. Right. Now. and get “The Road Back to You” by Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron. There are several good podcasts too! A test will not suffice. This is a helpful tool for understanding and growth!
*The growth of new and seasoned Business Partners on the Rodan + Fields journey. It has been exciting and such a joy to encourage and grow with these women and my team all over the country. Even more than ever, I realize that God expanded ministry opportunities through RF instead of closing me off to them with the disbanding of Women’s Discipleship Concepts 4 years ago. The highlight was a retreat for some of my directs in April. It ended up, through the Spirit’s leading, to be a time of rest in the Lord, an encouragement for souls on the journey, and time of forming a deep community.
*Puzzles: I am so thankful that I got a “hankering” for a puzzle one day, and the rest is documented in a big pile of puzzle boxes in our downstairs bedroom. I know I am a nerd. Yep.It is a practice that makes me set aside time to just be. That is sooo important for our hearts, mommas. (and, PS, I am donating some to an assisted living–in case you think I need to add “puzzle hoarder” to my profile.)
*The freedom and financial ability to do some fun trips with the boys AND do Boat Club as a family. A little Chattanooga trip to explore for Spring Break, A full-fledged vacation to the beach for a week (first legit vacation we have paid for), some Smokey Mountain fun for Fall Break at Dollywood, Season Passes to Dollywood… I want presence, experiences, and adventure with my boys. Who knew that everything would be so expensive??? This has been a HUGE blessing from my continued growth in my RF business.
*A special trip with my Mom and Sister to go to my nephew’s wedding in Spokane, Washington. What a beautiful part of the country. I am so Thankful for time with family.
I loved the enriching conversations that this trip brought with strangers. I am reminded that God wants us to engage the world with His Beauty and Truth, and we get so bogged down with what’s right in front of us that we miss out.
*My oldest son’s Kindergarten and 1st-grade year…I was so scared. Sensory Processing Disorder is no joke, and we have worked so hard to help him build resiliency and coping skills. I am beyond thankful for our school, the wonderful teachers and community, our OT, Mrs. Kathy, the children’s ministry at our church, and family friends that have encouraged our little guy so much. He is a different kid than when we started this journey over four years ago. The motto around our house is “you can do hard things!” Including the parenting part for Greg and me. There was a HUGE marker in this journey in December as we got to reflect on how much growth has come in our buddy–HUGE thankfulness to God!
*RF Convention in New Orleans. It was a beautiful and fun week with 30 members of our team, countless dear friends that are sideline sisters, and friends from all over the country that I have made on this journey. It was so fun to walk the stage and go to spectacular parties. Dressing up is fun, and I rarely do that in life! However, It was a monumental week in my heart for none of those reasons. God intricately brought restoration to so many parts of me, and I straight up was overwhelmed by His Fathering, His pursuit, and His deep love for me. Someday I might tell the bigger story, but I do not feel released to yet. I am reminded that He can use anything anywhere to do His work in us. Hilariously, I had a worshipful time in a city known for its darkness reminding me that His light pierces through our darkness.
*Y’all…I did a scary thing that I dreamed about. I got the opportunity and encouragement from my friend and business partner, Lindsey, and I pressed go LIVE on a training platform for 180,000 RF consultants. The topic in April was “Times I almost quit: Building the art of resilience,” and the topic in August was “Get Real Thursday: examining the posture you are taking toward business and life.” I am amazed at the personal growth in public speaking I have gotten over the last year and a half, in particular. Every time someone asked me to stretch to speak at something new, I thought 2 things: 1) that is not my strength–I don’t do this! and 2) I don’t have anything special to say that anyone has not said (aka someone else could do it better!) Here’s the truth…both of those statements are probably true, but we only grow when we stretch to new things. It is uncomfortable, exhilarating, challenging, full of anxiety, and yet, if I had listened to my fears, I would have missed out in sad ways. Note 1: Live videos always choose the greatest screenshots–eye roll here. Note 2: I also discovered the spray tan the 2nd time around.
* The growth of my sweet, sassy, smart boys. I am so thankful that Greg keeps a running list of their hilarious quotes. Every day I think about the slipping time, and I am sobered by the responsibility and privilege of being their Momma (yep–over my dead body will they call me anything else!!). Greg is an amazing Daddy–I need him for balance:). As I have read back over the earlier years of my blog, I remember that there was a time that I surrendered that they would not be here. Maybe it’s my age, their preciousness, or my period of infertility, but I am so thankful for their lives and this opportunity.
The truth is, as I reflect more, I will remember more. Why? I so easily forget the beauty of God’s hand in my life. What about you? What are your Ebenezers for the year?
Well, it’s building again. That pressure to do the right thing, to do it the best way, to prove your worth is on the rise. Where does it come from? From women’s mouths, popular books, sub-cultural norms to your ears–actually straight to your heart. The words marinate in your heart until you believe it and act in pride or until you are shamed because you are not enough and you embarrassed because you have fallen short again. This must be something really essential–you think. Or has someone else pushed it as essential?
Motherhood. Until I was first baptized into this “secret club,” I never realized the pressure to fit there, the pressure to perform. It starts almost as soon as you get pregnant or fill out the adoption papers. “Surely you are going to do….A thoughtful mother would only plan this way….Are you going to feed your child that?….You let your children go this long between feedings?” “I will only do natural birth… You are going to put THAT into your body?” “You are going to name your child that?” “Godly mothers do…I only use natural products…”
I was 36 when I gave birth after many years of infertility, and I will be 38 with my second. I had some maturity under my belt, but that little teenage girl who was worried and timid about “fitting in” and would did not know who she was looked me in the eye in the mirror as all of these expectations came rushing toward me. I had NEVER felt so much pressure. There was a lot of opportunity to feel so much pride in my decisions–when I thought I chose to do something “right.” There was also a lot of opportunity for me to feel “less than” from the club of mothers around me–things I chose or did not choose or could or could not do.
It is interesting how many trends can become en vogue in just a short span of years. Right now, I see many young women in their twenties in the serious evangelical realm going for natural and home births. I totally respect people for choosing that for themselves. This is obviously something you pray and decide seriously about (as with many decisions in motherhood and child-rearing.) I have then seen women who are crushed and feel like they have failed at a major point when a health issue prevents this (and they have to have a C-section or go to the hospital) and they lose that goal. I see people who are drawn to sleep training and parent-directed (AKA Babywise verses people who are very into attachment parenting (AKA Dr. Sears). There can be a lot of judgement and shaming between those camps–I felt that when we decided to carry through with a Babywise philosophy. There is MUCH MUCH MUCH pressure to exclusively breastfeed–which is a wonderful thing, but the pressure I took on myself from outside sources and wanted to work for me nearly crushed me as my body would not produce what was needed. I truly believe the pressure that I internalized (yes–I take the responsibility) nearly put be over the edge with such deep postpartum that I could not see straight. I could go on and on and on…You get the point.
This is my concern…Somewhere along the way, we have made choices into essentials of our identity. “If I do not do it this way, my whole identity is shattered.” We get on this proving ground and lose our minds and hearts. And, as children grow, the proving ground changes but we still act as if our identities are essential to our decisions within the parenting realm. It may be how we discipline our children or how we interact with them or what we expect from them at certain ages or what we expose them to (homeschool, private school, public school.) I’m kind of getting the hives just writing this. Because we cling to making the “right” choices as our identity, then we must enforce that with others. We judge them in our mind, hearts and with our mouths because they are not doing things our way. We think they are less than because in order for us to continue to gain our identity and worth from these things, they have to be wrong or get on board and think we are right. We make things essential that are side issues.
So, as the pressure mounts, yet again, on this uphill climb in pregnancy and mothering, I remind me and others of what is essential. The essential piece to our identity is the Gospel–whether we are single, married, jobless, parents, CEO or stay at home mom. We do not prove our worth or acceptance to God by what philosophy we adhere to or birth plan we choose, whether our children sleeps in the bed with us until they are 6 or is in the crib the first night, whether we breast or bottle feed, whether we give immunizations or feed kraft macaroni or organic. All of us are going to fail as parents because we are human, fallen, sinful creatures. We can lean hard into the Lord from day one and do everything “right”, and our children will sin and rebel and break our hearts. We can royally try to do it on our own without the Lord, and our children are going to sin and rebel and mess up. It is what we cling to and remember in our triumphs and our failures that will shape our hearts and our children’s hearts. Who does our help come from? Where do we go for our essential identity? How in our failures and our children’s failures do we point them toward the hope of the Gospel?
Our children will get the message from us loud and clear as to what we think is essential to our identity (and, in turn, theirs). They see what we cling to and what crushes us when it falls apart. So, from the beginning, I encourage those on the journey with me to be on the journey together, encouraging instead of accusing, making the gospel essential and not side decisions, loving instead of comparing. Will you come with me?