A very special something…
The women from my church gathered together one weekend this past April to take part in our annual Women’s Conference.
I did not want to go.
Don’t get me wrong. I love women. I love spending time with them, being encouraged by them, laughing until our sides split.
But I did not want to go to this conference. You see, I have a fear of over-night get-a-ways with people. It’s rooted back to teenage insecurities that I’ve never quite gotten over.
So let me tell you how excited I was when I found out that my boys first t-ball game was scheduled for the Saturday morning of the conference!
Oops. Guess I wont be able to go… Oh well. Maybe next year…
Unfortunately, God is sovereign. = )
And I am so glad. He wanted me there. I needed some encouragement, some conviction, plus He had a plan in mind that I didn’t. So I ended up going Friday night, traveling back home and back to the meeting place after the game the next morning. I didn’t even miss a single session.
After the last session, the speaker of the conference had us form a circle so that we might share what God had spoken to us that weekend. It was mandatory – everyone had to participate.
My heart started pounding. Would I be first? Would I be last? What on earth was I going to say?
Many of you who know me may be thinking, that’s not like her! She never misses an opportunity to say SOMETHING! But for some reason this was different. Sometimes the people around me become bigger than God. What they might possibly think controls my every move or rather paralyzes me in fear. I was having one of those moments.
My turn finally came. And I started talking, still not sure what I was going to say. So I told them about not wanting to come, about my insecurity and my fear. I told them about the specific scriptures that God had used to encourage and convict me, the ones about the tongue and the heart and how the two work together. About my desire to be a good mom, but my struggles in being gentle and patient and needing encouragement. I cried. My ugly cry. And hiccuped through my speech.
Why do I do that? I just gush it all out! Now everyone knows. About my stupid insecurities and my failures as a mother and the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing…
I felt so foolish.
But you want to know the crazy thing about it all? After my sobbing session woman after woman came up to me. And they were telling me they too had the same struggles in their mothering. Some had grown kids, others had young and it was all the same… I can’t get it right either… I need encouragement and accountability… maybe we should get together…
At first I didn’t feel so stupid. But then God began to whisper something to my spirit.
You need one another… you need to share your burdens with each other… to hold each other up… to be encouraged… and to stop looking at each other in judgement… measuring yourselves against each other…comparing… I want to minister to you through one another… will you let me?
Out of this the Play and Pray was born.
I am so excited to share with you what exactly this is and what exactly we do!
Once a month my dear sisters get together at one house to pray while our kids gather at another house (with babysitter) to play.
We have lunch together and share what’s going on. I mean really share – honestly. Then we pray for one another, and I mean really pray. After prayer we offer encouragement or ‘advice’ as God leads. Because we need one another…
It has been so refreshing being able to be honest before them with my own struggles and to hear how they are struggling so that we can bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). And to know that, no I am not the only one who struggles with tempers and tantrums and liars and family ‘issues’ and submission and honor and obsessions and homeschooling uncertainties and throw up and pee on the shower curtain!
It has been a tremendous blessing to me. I always leave feeling encouraged and renewed.
Out of this I have become very passionate about a certain issue. And I must warn you now, but first let me just say, I have in no way conquered this or ‘arrived’ by any means. I have purposely waited several days to post this to make sure my heart is in the right place… and it isn’t. If I waited until there was no longer any judgement or pride or condemnation or self-righteousness in my heart, then I would be dead. But I am climbing up on my soap box anyway! Just know that I am not preaching at anyone but myself!
So to all of us moms, I have something to say. ‘Us’ because I’m the first one that needs to hear it.
Mothering is a tremendous blessing, yes. But it is also one of the hardest things we will ever do in this life is it not? And we need one another.
We get tired and frustrated and want to just sleep for crying out loud! There’s laundry that never ends and our heads hurt and backs ache and can I just have a little quiet please? There is dinner to prepare and dishes to wash and load and diapers to change and diapers to change and diapers to change! And the never ending whining that could justifiably be deemed as an official language. There are tantrums that overwhelm us and developmental issues that keep us up at night. There are sicknesses, attitudes, night terrors, sibling rivalry, back-talk and boo-boos. Our ears ring at the constant chattering and eyes bulge at the forever messes. We want to give up. We have weight issues and feel ugly. At certain times of the month we are irritable, we get snappy and cramps and emotional, we worry. Our husbands don’t get it and there are expectations that never get met. Not to mention the pressure we put on ourselves to be (or at least appear to be) perfect, to keep it all together, to dress fashionable and modest with matching accessories and hair all done nice. To recycle and eat healthy, exercise and have all the answers plus a clean house. To not be in debt, to read our Bibles every day and discipline in even tones, without anger, every time. Showing grace and love and Christ to EVERYONE ALL THE TIME! Do you feel tired yet?
And I haven’t even hit on the big issues we face like loneliness and fear, loss and infertility, miscarriage, abandonment, impacts of abortion, divorce, abuse, rape, alcoholism, adultery and pornography…
And where does God fit into all this mess? Because life is messy.
There are many people who have more successfully answered that question better than I ever will. I thankfully and very humbly glean all I can from them. I am not attempting to be a theologian at the moment, only practical and honest. So please excuse my crudeness for a moment:
Can we please just cut all the CRAP??
Can we please just face the fact that no one is perfect!? Can we just be ok with that? We ALL struggle. NO ONE has it ‘all together’. EVERYONE messes up, gets it wrong, yells at their kids in moments of exasperation. We ALL fail. How do I know this?
Read the Bible much? That happens to be the very reason Christ came to die for us… because we are all miserable sinners… every time. Just watch your children. Their hearts are deceitfully wicked above all else… and nothing really changes the older you get…
The way I see young moms (including myself) walk in the bondage of perfectionism makes me want to shout from the roof tops… IT’S OK! YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT… because He was for you.
It’s hard, I know. It’s ingrained in us to do right, be right, appear… right. But oh how WRONG that is.
Instead, I think we should all take a chance, be vulnerable with someone (not everyone) but someone who you can be real with, who will pray for you, I mean, really pray.
A couple of weeks ago I took that chance and sent out an email to my sisters…
I sent it out. It was scary. I felt foolish. These ladies have real hardships – some have husbands deployed, have experienced true loss, they are saying good-bye, dealing with children fears, deep family issues, some have husbands unsaved, are dealing with pregnancies and sickness and depression and…
…and I was just wallowing.
But through their reply emails I was reminded that it’s ok. They understand, they’ve been there too and each of them were praying for me. I was encouraged and convicted and I began praying for them as well. I was seeing the true beauty of the Body of Christ as it was meant to work together. Not in judgement or with conditions. But with love. Because we need one another.
I was glad that I took that chance, opened up and that I was encouraged.
The following Sunday my pastor preached that kind of sermon that makes you wonder if he followed you around taking notes the week before…
He ended with a verse in 1John – a very well-known verse that I’ve never really ‘gotten’ before.
So we don’t have to be afraid… of God or of others and what they might think of us. Because it doesn’t matter. His love is perfect, non-condemning, He doesn’t compare us to each other, so why should we?
Instead, let’s embrace the mess, embrace the pain, embrace each other without comparing or judgement or hypocracy… cause that’s what Christ does for us. God wants to minister to us and through us. The question we have to ask ourselves is, will we let Him?
This is so hard, I know. But I want to look at women (my peers) differently, in the way God created us to see each other. Through the lens of compassion and understanding, not comparing and undermining. I have found that it is possible! Have I perfected it? No. But I do have a glimpse of light. And that has come through opening up, taking a chance, being vulnerable with my ‘issues’, praying for each other and being encouraged. It’s called grace. And we need one another.
And to think I almost let my insecurities and fears get in the way of such an important lesson. Makes me excited for next year’s conference. I can’t wait! Sleeping bag and all!!