It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I’ve been thinking a lot. I’m going to share some things here that I am finding are true for me. Maybe you’ll relate too. This is going to be candid. I’m finding I don’t help anyone by keeping life lessons to myself, so please bear with me.
My husband just came back from a conference, and he remarked about meeting people who learned he was my husband. People who had known me “back in the day” when I had a prominent, very public persona at a well-known Christian University. Back in those days, I taught multiple groups of (mostly freshman) students, held meetings with hundreds of students in attendance, and spoke for ladies events. There was a lot going on to make me feel “significant”.
Fast forward a couple decades. I’m living a much less commotion-filled life in rural Wyoming, largely spending my days in the house, homeschooling kids and doing housework. Anticlimactic? It could be. If I let it be. And I had.
I was feeling full of angst. I was defining my “usefulness” by my past. I was allowing my sense of worth to be attached to the person I was. But that very public person had such a needy heart. No one ever knew it. I was strong for everyone else, seemed to have the answers, but was so weak inside. I hope and pray I am a better person today than that woman was.
My flesh seeks accolades. Does yours? You know…the pat on the back that says we’re worth something. Life was full of that back then. And it was dangerous for my heart.
Today I find myself mostly doing the average stuff. Fixing meals. Writing lesson plans. Supporting my pastor husband. Keeping the laundry rolling, searching for rogue socks. Satan whispers, “You used to be ‘somebody’…you used to make a difference.” He’s a liar, and I know it. But, I’m ashamed to say, I still wondered.
Dear lady, if this is you, please hear me. The answer is yes. You make a difference. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and loved with everlasting love. And, the quiet stuff, the daily routine-y things…they mean much more than we realize. They only “burn us out” when we do them for the wrong reasons. Have you heard/read this quote before:
Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship; but dream not that she is lost to the work of the church; far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord.
Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the temple.
~Charles H. Spurgeon
I’ve read these thoughts and ones similar to them before. But I honestly can’t say I believed them…not for myself, anyway. Because when I try to do those things Spurgeon mentions, I fail so often. I’m not perfect at them.
This is what I’d forgotten. Again. Jesus is my perfection. He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the “Lord my righteousness”. He is that. I’m not. I knew that the day I trusted Him as my Savior…and then I forgot it when it came to every day life. So I became exhausted. I convinced myself the answer was to do more. If I couldn’t do it right, at least I’d kill myself making more and more attempts at it. More is better! That’s spiritual, right?
It was killing me. It was erasing me from the lives of my kids, I was becoming so preoccupied with getting it right. I was so overwrought with my failures that I was becoming weighted down and joyless…and that feeling, that drudging, dragging outlook, was all I had left to tap into when it came to my role as a wife as well.
This life lesson has been a long time in coming. He’s been trying to teach me, but my life had become so noisy seeking significance and satisfaction outside of Him, in me, trying harder. Battling with chronic pain and health issues only added more shackles (and truth be told, the stress I was creating for myself very likely made things worse). I believe the adversary was rejoicing, because I’d been floundering for so long.
Yesterday, I decided to simplify (which was my “buzz word” for 2015, ironically…but I complicated my life even more trying to see it defined in my life…what a mess). I had laundry to fold. I wanted it all to be done for my husband’s return from a pastor’s conference, so the house would be neat, and he’d have what he needed to pack for a men’s retreat which starts today. Meanwhile, our teen daughter sat in the living room alone, watching “Catching Faith“.
I looked at that pile of laundry on the bed. I knew my husband was not due to be home until hours later, and I made a radical decision. Don’t laugh. My perfectionistic nature likes to expedite things. I’ve written about this before.
I’d told our daughter that I might come watch with her…when I was done with the laundry.
“Yay!” she exclaimed.
And I stood there…absurdly weighing things. I realized that checking stuff off my to-do list had become a god to me. I had convinced myself that if I got stuff done, if I achieved my goals, I had worth. I had a sort of epiphany moment when I saw that HIS goals were much more realistic, lasting and worthwhile than mine….and His list was much shorter. And I left the pile on the bed. Just left it, and had a lovely time sharing that movie with her, chatting, laughing, making observations about life.
My response to my husband’s observation from that conference was, “And now the tables have turned, and I’m happily known as “the Baptist preacher’s wife”…and I meant it. The people in our home…they are first. If “Mom” and “Sweetie” are the only titles I hold for the rest of my days, I’d love that. Old things are passed away (even good or great things which have just become, well, old), behold, all things are become new. I am a “new creation” in Christ, every day. His mercies are new each morning. His faithfulness is great! (Lam 3:22,23) I want my heart to be satisfied, not with labels, titles, or accomplishments, but with my new name as His child. That is enough. No, it is “exceeding abundantly above all that [I] could ask or think”. I want this to be fresh in my mind, every day. I want to continue to be a better person than I was…not only those many years ago, but also better than who I was yesterday…or this morning. Growing up into Him.
There is rest in this. I have a hard time resting. Do you? Even when I seem to be, I’m not. I’m planning, thinking, always on the watch for something else to do. Jesus said to His disciples, “Come apart and rest awhile”. It’s a spiritual thing to rest. Now, to get caught up in the “me time” mentality is unhealthy; but a life with balanced seasons of rest and service is wise.
Remember Elijah? I’ve studied his story. I’ve referenced it frequently. I’ve blogged about him. Now I’m ready to own the truth of his story for myself. In my heart, I was ready to run. Overwhelmed. To the point of a magnificent melt-down a few weeks back.
Burning his candle at both ends, we would have called Elijah “stressed out” back there in 1 Kings 17. God forced him into rehabilitation. God’s answer wasn’t “Do more”. It wasn’t even”Do something else”. God’s answer was “Stop. Sleep. Hydrate. Nutrify.” Simple. Needful. Noteworthy for us. We tend to ignore the obvious. My husband could see my need for this. I wouldn’t. He’d take the kids out and tell me to relax…and I’d clean the house. After all, when else could I clean it, and have it stay clean for any span of time? Shame on me for not listening to his loving leadership.
I’m looking into doing a review on The Elijah Project which was featured in “Catching Faith”. Here is the author, describing it.
I’m corresponding with the publisher right now. If you are with me, on this road to Cherith, keep an eye out.