At the 2009 MOMYS Retreat, I was asked to offer the Saturday night Mom’s Fellowship devotional. Here is the devotional I wrote edited to speak to a more general audience. I do not know if it spoke to anyone there that night, but it spoke to me. It continues to speak to me as I hash out some personal struggles. I pray it blesses you in the reading as it did me in the writing.
In a mother’s life there are many responsibilities. There are little voices and fingers all bidding for our time and energy. There are diapers to change, mouths to feed, papers to grade, stains to clean, boo-boos to kiss, hair to cut, naughties to discipline, and tummies to tickle.
There are also many distractions. There is laundry to do, rips to repair, floors to mop, beds to make, shelves to dust, toilets to clean, dishes to wash, and rooms to tidy. Twenty-four hours does not seem nearly enough to accomplish all these things.
Yet that is what we have. It is no mistake that the Lord created the earth to make one full rotation on its axis every 24 hours. That allotted amount of time is the perfect amount to accomplish the needed things and get enough rest to start over the next day. IF we use that time wisely.
There are plenty of selfish pursuits and time-wasters out there, but for a mother, it tends to be much more complicated than this. Often our day is filled with worthwhile pursuits that have little to do with ourselves and we still end up feeling hurried, overworked, and exhausted. We look about us and all we see is chaos, and our heart is sad.
In addition to our responsibilities and our distractions, there is another, much more damaging time-consumer. It is that of unrealistic expectations. In this day and age where the internet connects us all and there are more articles and books on homemaking, homeschooling, and organization than you could possible read in a lifetime, we find ourselves comparing ourselves with ourselves…something the Bible strictly prohibits.
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Cor 10:12
We are constantly looking for perfection. We are just sure we can attend to our children, attend to our husband, keep an immaculate home, keep up with the laundry, keep a blog, volunteer at church, cook three meals a day, take our children to extracurricular activities, and still have time left over for intensive Bible study and an hour or so or scrapbooking or sewing every single day. We’ve tried every scheduling system out there. We’ve color-coded our children, we’ve color-coded our chores, we’ve even color-coded our pantry, but to no avail. We just cannot make it work like Susie-so-and-so down the street. She has it all together and we are jealous. We compare ourselves with others and feel like we always fall miserably short.
But the truth is we took our eyes off the Light and the shadows crept in.
In Psalm 27:1, the Bible tells us that the Lord is our light and because of this, we have nothing to fear. In Job, we learn that light and wickedness cannot co-exist (Job 18:5). Proverbs 16:15 talks about how the light of the King’s face is life. In Isaiah 58:8, healing follows the light breaking forth. And then there is the famous passage where Jesus is speaking in John 8:12 where He says,
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
Because we are Christians, we follow the Light, we trust in the Light, we should always be facing the Light. And while there are many things that try to distract us and cast shadows; ultimately, we have the choice to stay focused on the Light or to turn toward those shadows.
Lest you think I believe this to be some easy cheesy thing, let me go to Ephesians 5:8-10 where it says,
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
The words “finding out” tell me that I might have to really concentrate to make sure I am staying focused on Him. I have to discern if the guilt and frustration I am feeling is something I’ve put upon myself, something Satan is using to attack me, or something worthy of listening to. It is good to evaluate and examine our lives and often when we feel like something is wrong, something is; however, back to those much too high expectations…
Sometimes when we feel like something is wrong, it really isn’t. Sometimes it is because we have taken our eyes off the Light and are staring at those around us, trying to gain identity from them. One of my favorite phrases is “God doesn’t expect cookie-cutter Christians.” The Bible tells us that some are feet, some are legs, some are eyes, some are ears. (I Cor. 12:15,16) We are all unique and that is the way it is supposed to be.
I think there are times when mothers look to other mothers for their identity and end up disgusted with themselves. We somehow think there is a standard of perfection that once we have “arrived” we will be just like so-and-so. But, wouldn’t that be going against God’s standard for us? So-and-so might be an arm while I might be an ankle…both are needed, both are part of God’s plan for a body that is whole. So, why would I want to be something other than who I am?
The answer is simple…I turned from the Light and the shadows crept in.
Yes, we can learn from others, but the advice of others should never supercede God’s Word. While man (and woman) can illuminate a path for a bit, they can never give the perfect and sovereign Light our Lord offers.
So, just as when you face a candle, you cannot see the shadow it creates behind you, when you face the Light that is our Lord and Savior, you cannot see the shadow of a former life, the shadow of the life you are not meant to live, the shadow of the things that threaten to beat you down, make you feel “less-than”, or simply cause you to be too busy. Focusing on the light will keep the shadows in their rightful place.