Tuesday, May 12, 2009
As I was washing dishes in the kitchen yesterday and listening to a cd, a song came on that I've heard many times. I love how the Lord does this; I can hear a song 50 times and each time he reveals something new to me. It's always something i need to hear just at that moment, but that same thing didn't mean anything two days before when i heard it.
Well yesterday it was this..."This is Our Road" (from a cd by Serene and Pearl from Above Rubies, titled the same, about marriage. They have several wonderful cd's for mothers and a new one for fathers). A light bulb went off in my mind! The past 6 months have been a time of soul searching, stretching, humbling, and growing for me. Who am I..as a wife, mother, friend, child of God, stranger in public? Am I being who God made me to be or trying to be like someone else? Most of it has not been fun, pleasant, or pretty for myself or others close to me. But, I now feel that i am on the other side and the words, "this is our road" sums it all up. Our road is different from yours and that's ok!
I will explain all that, but just so you know, this is a very humbling thing for me. To share something so personal and even ugly in my personality I wouldn't have even dreamed about a year ago. Pride wouldn't let me. But i am not the same person, thankfully, and the Lord is using even this to help me change. I want to be real to all who read this and know me. I would never want anyone to look at me and my family and think that we have got it all together because we don't! No one does! We fail, sin, and mess up all of the time just like everyone else. Thankfully we have a God that forgives and moves us forward on our road!
Back to my story-
Back in the Fall, while we were at my in-laws, there happened to be a Duggar Family marathon, you know the family with 18 children in Arkansas, on cable (we don't have cable so this was fun for me!). Now large families are not new to me, although 18 is way past what I know, but i am used to the idea of a large family. Even they way they do things is not new, like how they organize their home, feed everyone, do laundry, drive a big van (bus), even they way they dress. Light Bulb!(in my mind), the way they dress. The long skirts, long hair, simple shirts, very modest. I totally can see myself and my daughters looking like them. But then i noticed the dad and boys. They dressed in nice khakies or pants with polo or button down shirts, always tucked in with a belt, lace up shoes, etc. That is not at all who my husband is or will ever be like! So this was the beginning of what the Lord had to teach me. Our conversation went something like this in my mind:
"Are you trying to be like someone else?"
"Whoa Lord, I thought you wanted me to be this way, dress how all these other women dress, act the way they act, train my children their way..."
"Who are you?"
"I am 'trying' to be a godly christian woman like many other godly christian women I know."
"Who did I make you to be?
"A wife and mother."
"Kenneth and my children."
"I gave you a husband to be the head of your family. I choose him just for you and your children. Follow him! Don't look to other women, men, or even families. I have a plan for them and a different plan for you. Don't try to be something I didn't ever intend for you to be."
"Lord, show me who you made me and my family to be!"
The next 6 months were just that! He has shown and is still showing me who I am supposed to be. I have really learned to let go of comparing myself and my family to others. Not that that is always bad. I do think we need to have good examples to strive for, but when you are trying and trying to make something out of nothing and make it look like so and so, all you wind up with is frustration! Be real, be who God made you to be!
What i realized is that I was trying to make our family look a certain way and that's not really who we are. I really don't like wearing floor length skirts but i did it because that's what I thought godly christian women should do. But my husband never said he wanted me to or that he even liked or didn't like them. I just did it. When I finally asked him, he did have an opinion. He likes a more fitted style, not loose on my hips and shorter. I do still like and wear skirts but i love the mid calf length and more of a bohemian style. I also wear capri pants and jeans from time to time. It's all ok!
I really think I was wanting our family to appear to be the ipitomy of a christian, homeschool family. But we are not! I have tried my hardest to make us appear quiet, well behaved, and respectable looking family, but we are not always. That's not how God wired us. We are a loud family, my children don't always behave, they fight and bicker and sometimes it drives me crazy, sometimes i lose my temper and yell at them, sometimes we eat horrible, non organic food and like it! (yikes), a lot of times i make decisions for our family and never give my husband a chance to be the spiritual leader. The list goes on and on...but i know now not to be ashamed or embarrased of who we are because we are different and that's ok! Of course there are some things that we need to change, but right now, this is our road!
You may dress one way and me another, that's ok. You may discipline your children one way and me another, that's ok. You may bottle feed your baby and me breastfeed, that's ok! You may send your children to public school and me homeschool, that's ok too! As long as we are both seeking the Lord and listening to the guidance of our own husband, it does not matter how we do things, only that we are obeying the Lord!
But on the other hand, for example, if you or I dress one way, but our husband doesn't like it, that's not ok. If you or I are disciplining our children one way, but it's not Biblical, it's not ok! If you or I are reading books or watching programs that make us covet the way other families look, it's not ok! One thing i've learned, is to ask my husband. If there is something I am struggling with in my heart or mind, if i just present it to my hubbie, the problem is solved. He usually has an opinion about it and if not, he gives me his blessing to seek out someone elses opinion. But when I read something and decide that I am just going to change how we do things, it doesn't go over as well.
Another thing the Lord has changed, or is still changing in me, is pride. Now i don't think of myself as a prideful person but what i discovered is that appearing to not need any one else or their help, is a form of pride. I have never asked people for help. When they do offer it, i turn it down because i have never wanted to inconvienience them. I have never felt worthy of needing others help; i should be able to do it all on my own. Right? Wrong as the Lord has shown me. My whole life I have put up a very thick wall around my heart and emotions, very rarely letting anyone penetrate it. Only those who beat down that wall have found a place in my heart. I push everyone else away so they can't hurt me. But what the Lord has shown me is that people can't truly help me if they don't know me and how to help me. If i never share my heartaches, frustrations, and concerns, then i can't expect them to be there for me when i really need them. My sensitivities and hurt feeling always get in the way of true friendships. I have had to learn to let go of those and let my guard down and assume that people are real in their affections towards me, most of the time.
Through all of this life changing experience, I have also just come out of a dry season with the Lord. A time of complacency and ignorance as far as my relationship with God. I got busy with life and just kind of forgot to kindle our relationship. I always hate when this happens but know it's all my fault. I think i can get through life with out him and just slide from one day to the next without much thought or care. Forget to pray continuously, forget to speak tenderly to my children, forget to love the way Jesus loves, forget to read my Bible...and end up lost and lonely!
I love the Ross King song that says something like this, "break up your unplowed grounds, have you so soon forgotten me, lay all your idols down, and return to me." He talks about Hosea and Isaiah and how they also went through these times and what the Lord told them using the analogy of unplowed ground that needs tending to. Look those up sometime. I love the Lord! I don't want to forget him, even for a time. It's not a good place to be. The ground of my heart (and yours) has to always be plowed and planted and tended to if I want anything to grow. Complacency is where satan wants us to be, then he doesn't have to work so hard. I prefer to keep him running!
(If you've never heard of Ross King, he's local, I can't tell you how amazing his music is. The Lord uses most of his songs to teach me lots of things. You will not be disappointed with his cd's. Some are praise and worship and others about life. I have all of them and play them regularly in our home and car. http://www.rosskingmusic.com/ Click on the letters with boxes : )
I have come to be happy with "our road", the one the Lord has us on. It's actually very freeing to not be under the bondage of fitting into a certain mold, whether it be a homeschool mom, soccer mom, christian mom, or Oprah mom, etc. I actually find myself breathing a sigh of relief when i remember that i don't have to perform anymore or ask my children or husband to either! Be who God made you to be and your marriage/family to be. Don't try to be someone else; BE REAL!
So everytime I catch myself thinking, "why don't my children act like them," "why doesn't he do this like him," "why can't i keep it all together like her" the Lord gently reminds me that we are not them! We are unique in our makeup as a family, the way God made us.
Thank you Lord for grace!