Monday, August 30, 2010
I remember when I was pregnant with my first son, Silas. My mother gave me a piece of advice that so affected me and still does to this day. The advice was to just enjoy that baby and dedicate that first year to him. I immediately thought, “Well, what about church? What about going on date nights with Brandon? What about all the groups I was involved in? The list just went on and on. Then it hit me: seasons. “There is a time for everything.” I decided to take that piece of advice and I don’t regret one day of that first year I said, “no” to feeling obligated. I simply let it go. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for enjoying the season that you’re in and don’t make excuses for it. For that first year of Silas’s life I completely dedicated it to him. I don’t think I can even begin to express the freedom I had to just be content. I so enjoyed my baby. If I felt like going to church or a meeting, I would go. If the baby (or his Mama) needed a nap, I didn’t go. If I needed some Mommy time, I would take it. If I wanted to snuggle my angel longer than the clock and appointments would allow, I always chose my baby. Always choose the baby over “stuff”. Believe me, you won’t regret it. This is not to say it’s okay to neglect the husband either. My point is to not let priority number 27 take precedence over priority number 3.
Babies are the most inconvenient creatures on earth. Know this and expect it everyday. I had to learn this the hard way. I was in Pittsburgh for my brother-in-law’s wedding enjoying the ceremony and reminiscing my own wedding vows when my little 2 month old decided he wanted to nurse an hour before he was “scheduled to.” I was the kind of upset that really made me want to run away, scream, or just throw my hands up in the air and yell, “Serenity now!” My blood started to boil at the fact that I now had to leave the ceremony and find a place to nurse; all while trying to quiet the screams of a hungry baby. The fact that my choice of dress was not conducive to nursing didn’t make things easier either. Just when I was excusing myself from the ceremony, jolting to the bathroom and trying to juggle baby, burp clothes and breasts, I suddenly felt this peace wash over me. It hit me so hard that tears welled up in my eyes and ran down my cheeks before I even knew why. It literally came out of nowhere. It was so obvious and profound since just a second ago I had had a really bad attitude to say the least. God truly spoke to me that day. He stopped me in my tracks and wrapped me in His love while I sat on a stool in some random bathroom in Pittsburgh. He showed me that this precious baby boy was worth it. This miracle I was privileged to mother needed me. He needed a mother that understood that inconvenience was in the job description. This infant/nursing stage was a season. I felt my body relax, and as I gazed into the eyes of my son I knew that I was no longer the center of my universe. This mothering season wasn’t going to be easy. I was actually going to have to sacrifice my life. What a blow to the ego. God knew that that was exactly what I needed to learn the lesson of sacrifice. He wants us to not only go through the season of life we’re in, but embrace it with all it’s inconveniences, troubles and set backs.
I have talked to so many ladies that are riddled with guilt. It’s like they don’t know why or where it comes from, but it’s always there, eating away at their life one day at a time. Since when did feeling guilty get to be so holy? I believe this is one of the greatest deceptions the enemy uses to bind us. We don’t even realize we’re not supposed to have it. Jesus came to take the guilt away, don’t keep trying to take it back! Listen, if you need to watch TV for hours at a time every night because you’re nursing like crazy, I’m here to tell you that it’s a season, let go of the guilt. If you find yourself jamming to a fun song and wonder if you should feel guilty because Jesus isn’t mentioned in the lyrics, give yourself a pass. If you skip a church meeting/function, a school activity or some other self-imposed “obligation”, it’s okay. Value what’s right in front of you everyday. Treasure those moments that you can’t ever get back. For once in your life, enjoy the season- good, bad or indifferent. Don’t hurry it off or lament that another one in on the way. Just remember that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Don’t get caught up in legalism because, to be honest, legalism is a bitch. The sooner you rid yourself of it, the sooner you’ll see that having a judgmental spirit goes hand in hand with guilt. When you judge others, you judge yourself. When you judge yourself, you have loads of guilt. (Are you judging me right now because I wrote “bitch?”) LOL. In order to embrace the season, I believe we must get off the guilt/judging cycle. We simply need a big dose of Jesus reminding us that He already did all the judging necessary.
Monday, June 21, 2010
You know what? I don’t think that many woman can say that they like themselves. In fact, I’m not sure when I started to, but I know that it was not always like that. At one point I was like everyone else, just so dissatisfied all the time about every little thing. I would analyze myself with a fine tooth comb and wonder how anyone could bear to look at such a mess. Then at some point I got over myself and came to see me through the eyes of God. The weight that was lifted and the freedom that followed was life changing. I can’t imagine being bogged down with trivial things again. I can’t believe I didn’t appreciate the person God created me to be. All those years of trying to emulate different aspects of different people was just so frustrating. It was so unnatural and exhausting. Maybe that’s what people talk about when they say, “Oh, he or she is just trying to find themselves.” Before I thought that they were just trying to figure out who they wanted to be. In actuality, it means coming to grips with the person you are and were always meant to be. The person God thought up when He created you. You really don’t search for it, it’s always there smacking you in the face every morning.
I think our culture screams, “Be like her! Be like him!” and so it’s truly hard to fight against that. If everyone is trying to be like the skinniest, loveliest-haired girl or (in the church circles) the godliest, holiest homemaker; it makes sense to want those admirable qualities.
I love Cara Capobianco’s laugh. I think it’s so adorable and it makes you want to laugh just listening to her. It doesn’t even matter if you know why she’s laughing. I love Nicole Crist’s way of interacting with people. She really does bring the best out in everyone and makes you want to be around her all the time. I love Lauren Feichter’s way of being so creative and thoughtful about birthdays and any special occasion, really. She makes you feel so special. I love Amanda Troya’s heart to serve. She is the most selfless person I’ve ever met I think. She’s one of those people that don’t ask what she can do, she just comes over and does it. What a treasure! I love Brandon McConnell’s wit. Whatever the situation his little comments at the exact right time make it entertaining just to see what he’ll say next. I love Joanne Findley’s ability to research anything and be able to articulate all the new things she’s learned. I could go on and on. I’m sure you’ve also encountered people with talents and abilities that just make you stand in awe. It’s natural to want to be like that, and I believe in some ways God puts people in our lives to show us how to be a better person or to grow us in certain areas. I believe the problem comes when we try to be the other person. When who we are is simply not good enough.
We can grow bitterness toward ourselves in pursuit of something that is not ours. Envy might take a hold of us and we might justify tearing ourselves down for the greater good of becoming this amazing person that we create for ourselves. We subconsciously (or not) think, “If I could create me I’d have Cara’s laugh, Niki’s personality, Lauren’s creativity, Amanda’s servant heart, Brandon’s wit and Joanne’s smarts.” What we’ve done is taken the best out of all these people and put them all together to create a person called me. The truth is that all these amazing qualities are not even theirs. Every good thing comes from God. Do you believe that? If you do you’d realize that God saw it fit and good to give Cara that laugh. It’s His gift to her. I can go through the list and say the same thing about everyone.
It’s time to take a look at the person God made you to be. Are you quiet or loud? Sometimes quiet, sometimes loud? Neither quiet nor loud? There are so many variations to the human soul, who can number them? It is important to know that whatever way you naturally tend to go, don’t just accept it- embrace it. See it as a gift. My hope and prayer is for you to love it. Be proud of the gifts and talents God gave you. It may not be a gift or talent in a measurable sense. It may just be something quirky, goofy or unique. Don’t confuse love with an arrogant prideful obsession with yourself. God knows we have enough people like that. Most people who are obsessed with themselves really are trying to cover their messed up psyche and create this alias they think is awesome and amazing. The whole time it’s just one big cover-up and everyone sees it but them. So, no- don’t love some made up person that you claim is you. Just appreciate the person God created you to be. Out of billions and billions of people alive and dead there is and has never been and will never be anyone else on the planet like you. Isn’t that an amazing thought? You know what? I’ll never have Cara’s amazing laugh or