I love it when all of my recent convictions and revelations find articles and Facebook statuses and, yes, Pinterest pins that spur me on…
For instance, I saw this precious statement on Pinterest last week:
“This.” I thought. “This is it. We are, by the grace of God, waking up to this very idea…”
And then I read this little article from Desiring God ministries, that added a Biblical foundation to that thought up there, and spurred me on in what I have been learning this past year.
Which goes a little somethin’ like this…
Great and secret joy is found when the unseen worldview that has clouded your vision and deceived your heart is obliterated by the work of the Spirit and the truth of the Bible, leaving freedom and confidence in its wake.
Let me explain.
I had no idea until recent years that, for the better part of my life, I was living, moving and breathing under a worldview that was much more American than it was Christian.
Let me explain.
Rat race. Social ladder. Financial security. College. Retirement. Success. Accolades. Comfort. Vacations. Fashion. Make more, spend more, consume more. Bachelors degree before marriage. Travel before kids.
Let me take that a step further, to the realm of motherhood…
Lavish birthday parties. Tricked-out scrapbooks. Matching Christmas clothes. A spotless house, Country Living style. High homeschool expectations (of wanting my kids to be a certain level of smart, in other words, smarter than everyone else’s kids).
And then into “church life”…
Majorly decorated VBS displays. Thousands of dollars on church camp. Wedding showers, personal showers, baby showers. GA’s, RA’s, Awanas, Bible Drill, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Discipleship classes, programs, programs, programs.
Please don’t get me wrong.
Most of these things, in and of themselves, are not wrong – there is nothing wrong with enjoying fashionable clothes (just ask my closet), there is nothing wrong with pouring your heart into decorating your Vacation Bible School room, there is nothing wrong with creating beautiful scrapbooks for each of your children, and there is certainly nothing wrong with hosting a lovely shower for your engaged or pregnant friend – obviously, many of these things are actually quite praiseworthy.
But when the line is crossed in these areas, and the master becomes slave and the inanimate becomes master, then, Houston, we most certainly have a major problemo.
One day, as I was completely stressed out and flustered over getting the house clean for a birthday party I was hosting, it hit me with startling clarity that almost 100% of the deadlines I run up against are almost 100% unnecessary and 100% created by me. I had this tendency to allow what was supposed to be an expression of love turn into a stressful duty that was ruling me, stealing my joy, and turning my children’s mother into a distant and harried psychopath. “I know its your birthday, sweetie, but go upstairs and get out of my hair before I go ballistic!”
My wordly worldview had deceived me into thinking I HAD “to have”, “to do”, and “to be” a number of things that were either extra- or unBiblical, and that I had to have, do, and be them NOW! In five minutes!!
But, by the grace of God, the reality has been creeping into my soul that hardly any of the things I was getting all flustered about were really essential to fulfilling my life’s purpose…
On the contrary, they were causing me to waste my life and to wish away beautiful moments and days on stress and self-absorption, sacrificing endless opportunities for worship and joy for the sake of nonsensical filler and busywork.
And, as my Biblical worldview continues to be formed, I see that all of those things that I had (at times) made myself a slave to are being replaced by ONE thing:
The life-changing realization that life is a journey from point A to point B, from birth to death, with one goal, one purpose, as stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
What freedom is found in this singular purpose!
In other words, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
This beautiful truth takes my focus off of events and worldly goals, and places it instead on my attitude and my heart as I experience those events and work to achieve those goals. It reminds me that, whatever I choose to do today, my purpose is to do it in a way that brings glory and honor to God, in a way that displays Christian fruit, and in a way that brings peace rather than strife.
It gives me the freedom to say “no” to nonessentials, even if it goes against the way things have been done for years and years and years, and the confidence to opt out of what society says my family and my children need to be happy, whole and socialized.
It teaches me that, no matter what my culture says, I can be madly in love with my husband until the day I die, that I can welcome sticky fingerprints on my windows, that I can be poor and ridiculously happy, that I can host events without being uptight, and that worship of God is the most simple and beautiful (and, best of all, FREE!) pleasure that life has to offer.
It proclaims to me that I don’t have to live my life like the world has told me to.
And my life, when lived this way, looks a little something like this (yours might look totally different)…
Impromptu dance parties after supper, shredded cheese and ground beef still littering the floor as we stomp through the house with our instruments.
Lunchtime picnics on the landing of the staircase.
Leisurely soaking in my slipper bathtub while my kids bang on the piano in my room (and the Baby throws Cheerios on the floor from her playpen).
Going to bed with my husband every night when there are a million things that could be done to the house or to the blog.
Postponing team sports for now, but always playing soccer or baseball in the front yard when our son asks.
Sweeping with a smile instead of a furrowed brow.
Watching my son take up the offering with a pirate eyepatch on and not freaking out or worrying what “people will think”.
Eating pancakes for lunch because I was grouchy and needed to apologize to my kids and start the day over again, breakfast and all.
Being prepared in my heart to greet class after class of music students at Vacation Bible School with honest gladness and sit in a circle and talk to them about Jesus, not a decoration in sight (until Wednesday with the help of great friends).
Supper: a giant watermelon on the porch with a fork for everyone. Dessert: popsicles.
Making hot dogs for a group of rowdy church kids every Wednesday night and not caring if they tell me “thank you”.
Training myself to listen to sermons with my kids beside me at Sunday worship, crayons all over the floor and on the pew.
Driving an old (free) golden minivan with gratitude and without wishing for a new car.
Buying one awesome dress per season rather than five.
Desiring one thing for my children’s future: godliness.
Shouting praise to God on the front porch as long-awaited rain falls on our town, and laughing as my children follow my lead and learn how to pray. For reals.
Learning to give my possessions away to someone who will find more joy in the object than I will. This is much more fun than I thought it would be.
Dying to myself. Dying to myself. Dying to myself. And watching with wonder as those around me learn to do the same thing.
These are, of course, on those glorious days when I remember my purpose and live “in the moment”. I long to have more and more of these days as I continue to grow in the faith.
So yes, I still get to host birthday parties. But if I am hosting birthday parties in a way that fails to display the patience and kindness of Jesus to my family, I’ve grievously missed the point.
I can still deck my room out for VBS if I want to. But if I am cross in the process, and get stressed as time runs out, I might as well have left that room empty.
I still HAVE to do the dishes. But I can perform even this seemingly tedious duty in a way that glorifies God. This might mean stopping midway to read a book to my child who is in serious need of some attention. It might mean doing dishes as a family so we can spend more time together, even if the floor gets wet in the process. It might mean doing dishes with a happy heart, while my kids make racket and messes all over the house. Or doing dishes while I mull over Sunday’s sermon. Or doing dishes during nap time so my kids can wake up to a clean house and a ready-to-play Mama. Or putting my feet up while my husband graciously does the dishes for me. Or giving away the dishes to someone who needs them. Or buying new dishes because we want to and have been good stewards of our money. Or, on rare occasions, not doing dishes at all.
But regardless of how things play out, days just take on a different hue once you realize you don’t have to live like they told you to live.
Freedom (in Jesus Christ) is sweet, is it not?
May we never waste a moment by returning to our chains.
So tell me…how are you going to spend this blessed day of pilgrimage?