(I’m a blessed woman cause this applies to both my Moms. I couldn’t love two women more than my Mom and my extra Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!)
Last Monday, I shared an article about my happy and sad thoughts concerning Mother’s Day. Not only was it one of the most well received articles I’ve ever written, but the outpouring of love, prayer, support, and encouragement from other women astounded me. To all of you who are praying for me and my husband, thank you! To all of you who took time to read my article and share it, thank you! To all of you who found it encouraging, I’m humbled and grateful I was able to help you. It has not been an easy road to walk. It has taken years for me to be at peace with where I’m at in my life. God has shown Himself trustworthy through it all. He is very longsuffering with me as I try to leave this world behind and live by faith instead of sight.
As a plethora of notes poured down around me last week, I realized that article was the first time many of my friends and family have heard me talk about not having children. I realized how much I needed their encouragement and support. I realized I only received it when I shared my trials and struggles.
Dear brothers and sisters, fellow believers, learn from my experience. Share your burdens with one another. Do not hide away in a pew watching others smile, laugh, and cry, wishing and wanting someone to smile, laugh, and cry with you.
The lesson I learned, yet again, from my Mother’s Day experience, was that I can’t expect people to understand me via osmosis. I must open myself up, share myself, and talk with other people. Scary thought. I must do the hard work of awkwardness, stilted conversation, and even move far outside my comfort zone, to get help. Help doesn’t come by hiding. Help comes by reaching out.
We live in a culture that has taken self-actualization to a destructive level. We think it’s all about us. That if I’m an introvert, you extroverts need to understand me. If you don’t make me happy, I get to abandon you. If my dreams don’t match up with yours, I’m outta here. Beware, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, the lies of the world. You are not at church to be served, but to serve. You are not here to wait for others to come talk with you, but to go talk to them. We all have hopes and dreams. We all have a hard time talking to others. Honestly, I’d rather sit in a corner and write than be with people. But that’s not good for me.
Life, the Christian life, is not about fulfilling your dreams here on earth. It is about becoming more Christ-like here on earth. This is not going to be easy. It is not going to be fun or even that happy. Why? Because the longer you walk with Christ the more aware of your own sin you become. It’s not pretty. The longer you walk with Christ, the less you are like this world. You give up your dreams for Christ’s sake. The world thinks that’s dumb. It’s not pretty. The longer you walk with Christ, the more you seek to serve your local church. The world thinks it’s a waste of time to spend your life quietly serving your church. It’s not pretty.
I’m preaching to myself here. I’m gently begging and pleading, praying and trusting that you will be encouraged to yet again go into the battle against yourself. You’re happiness and comfort aren’t what is important in this life. The sooner you learn this the better you will be at serving. Don’t give into the temptation of waiting to be served, go out and serve. Don’t wait for a friend to magically appear. Go be a friend. If you see others who are popular and you envy them . . . try getting to know them. You may find that they get nervous every Sunday cause they have to talk to people. You may find that that popular person has just as many scars as you do.
Just a word of caution: I’m not suggesting we all start gossiping. Sharing your sin can be just as much gossip as sharing the sins of others. It can be just as addictive, like a psychological cutting of yourself instead of a physical. I’m also not negating the benefit of understanding the difference between how introverts and extroverts communicate. This can be very helpful. What I am saying is that we need to stop waiting around for friends to understand us. We need to go be an understanding friend. The world is full of lies and selfishness that we must battle every day. My recent experience with sharing a very personal struggle has only solidified in my mind how important it is that we reach out to one another, and not wait for others to reach out to us.
Go to your local church this Sunday, and instead of focusing on all the ways no one is paying attention to you, go pay attention to someone else. Invite someone from your church over, or out for coffee. Schedule regular get-togethers. If you take your eyes off yourself, and focus on your family, your real family, you will find yourself blessed and encouraged. How do I know? Well I once considered myself on the fringe of my church, sorely misunderstood. What that really was was selfishness. Now, I have, by God’s grace alone, been changed in my attitude and I seek to serve my church like I was commanded to. I’ve been blessed beyond belief. I haven’t made lots of money. I haven’t suddenly found myself in the upper circles of society. I have had to give up on some very clung to dreams. But in all this, I have found Christ to be sufficient and my local church to be the dearest of families.
God is good.
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12: 46-50
This is both a happy and sad article, so I apologize.
First, I just want to say that I love Mother’s day because I have the two best moms in the world. They aren’t just my moms. They are very dear and special friends. My own mom is on my speed dial even as a thirty-four-year-old when I need a shoulder to cry on or a swift kick in the seat of the pants. I’m old enough to know that having a friend who will kick you in the pant seat is valuable beyond gold or silver. My mom inspires me, reminds me to do what’s right, shares her wine, and opens her heart and home to me at any day or time. Honestly, I love my mom cause she always makes me feel wanted, valued, and like a friend who she doesn’t get to see enough. I feel that way about her and she often tells me the same thing. I would kill off more fictional people if I thought it would give me more time with her. On top of all this, my Mom has her own business, keeps up with my dad, our church, all of us kids, all the grandkids, her own parents, and takes care of my Dad’s Mom. She amazes me! She would tell you she feels stretched, maybe like butter spread over too much bread, but she does a wonderful job. My mom is one of the main reasons I love to write and read. That is a gift I can never repay.
My extra mom is not just my mother-in-law, she is also one of my dearest friends. She is supportive, engaged, and has an open door policy, which I indulge in quite regularly. She has always treated me more as a prize than as an extra child in the family. What girl doesn’t love that? My extra mom is the most amazing cook I’ve ever known. We all crowd in her small kitchen on family days cause it’s the best place to be. She also has the most beautiful yard you’ve ever seen. I love our long talks when I go over to work out. I love the plant advice, which saves me hours of online research, and I love a fellow movie/TV nut to discuss the latest show with. Having a good relationship with the person who raised your husband is rare, so I’m fortunate to have not just a mom-in-law, but a true and real extra mom.
If I can have a home as comforting and welcoming as these two women, I’ll have reached a certain level of success in my life as a housewife. Other than my own home, I can think of no two places I’d rather be than one of my moms’ homes. I love you both dearly!
This is the part I love about Mother’s Day. I love getting an extra chance to tell two women how much they mean to me. But there is a part about Mother’s Day that gets harder with each passing year. For those of you without children or who have lost children, you know what I’m talking about.
When I was a young lady and Mother’s Day rolled around, I would dream about someday being honored by my husband and my children. I would smile and laugh at all the things done for mothers and wonder what my own husband and children would do to surprise me on this day. (Thank you Hallmark.)
I don’t have kids.
I’m still young enough, I tell myself daily, that I still hope to have children. I squeeze as much hope as possible out of every story about women who have children after they’re 35 or 40…or even 50. I’m not going to go into all the ins and outs of why we don’t have kids. Sorry. It’s not anyone’s business but my husband’s and mine. Just know that we want children, but we don’t have any.
So, each year Mother’s Day rolls around and I dream less and less about my own future time to celebrate. More and more, I just try to keep my head down, my heart in control, and think about the women I love who are mothers. And ladies, all of you moms that I know, I pray for you all the time. The older, and more tired, I get the more and more I pray for you. You have the most important task before you. You are molding and shaping the next generation and I don’t think it’s going to be an easy time to grow up. Keep at it. Enjoy this holiday set aside for you, dear moms. I pray for you!
For me, this holiday which was once looked forward to, is now almost dreaded. It is a big billboard of what I long for but don’t have and may never have. But! I do have hope. I have hope that Christ knows this desire. I have hope because I’m not alone in this desire. Many women have had this prayer answered in the positive by the Lord: Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Sampson’s Mother. And I have hope that He is good. If He answers this prayer with a no, I can lean and trust in Him. In the meantime, I can pour out my heart and mind for my church and my family. I can love on my nieces and nephews. I can love a holiday for the opportunity to tell my Moms how much they mean to me. I can switch my focus from what I don’t have to what Christ has secured for me. I can set my eyes on heaven and know that even if I don’t have children here on this earth, my hope is in what Christ has done for me. I, by His grace alone, will not waste this life pining for something I don’t yet have. I will use it to serve my church in every way possible.
I’m thankful for all you moms at church who take time out of your busy lives to text me, call me, facebook me, join me for coffee, tell me when you need help, and read my random blog posts. It’s a scary thing to reach a point in your life where you realize you may never have children, but you ladies let me be a part of your lives and so in a way I have many many children who I love.
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. (Is 54:1)
Happy Mother’s Day!