Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts on motherhood

"There is no higher calling for a woman than being a mom."

I read it all the time on blogs and hear it all the time from women at church or on facebook.  Funny how no one backs it up with Scripture.

I'm not sure how we got to this point where being a mom has become the pinnacle of female Christianity, but we are there.  And it alarms me a bit that the Church; that we, ladies, are not doing enough to stop it.

We believe it. We absolutely do.  Just go be a part of the modern Church and you'll see it.  You see the way that single and childless women feel ostracized and outcast.  They are not worthy; somehow lacking or less mature.  Not part of this elite group of women known as mothers.

You see it in the pressure moms have.  Because it's their highest calling, which means it's the most crucial and they better not mess up.  It's not enough to be a mom. You have to be a certain kind of mother. And not ever make a mistake. You have to homeschool.   And don't even think about feeding your kid artificial food coloring or letting them watch Disney movies.  You have to throw Pinterest inspired themed parties and have play dates and your child should recite the whole Bible from memory at their fourth birthday.  Many of my friends are moms and so many of them seem tired and stressed, and not the normal "I have two kids under the age of two" tired and stressed.  They compare themselves to each other.  They feel unworthy and shamed.  Especially when they admit to themselves that this "highest calling" isn't fulfilling them the way they were told it should.  They lie to each other because they feel like they can't admit that sometimes it's just hard and they don't want to be just a mom. But it's their highest calling!  It should fulfill them in ways that nothing else can!  This is what we are told, and I see it wearing on moms all around me.

I hate it, this lie we tell women.  I hate that my single friends are given this message by the church of all places that they are somehow not reaching their full female potential.  I hate that my friends who are working mothers feel ostracized and judged by other women because they aren't stay at home moms.

The message is everywhere:  The pinnacle of a woman's life is culminated in a baby.

You know what it is ladies?  A lie.

It's a lie.

We believe it, because it sounds believable.  It's sounds "churchy".  God loves families and babies, so why wouldn't it be truth? And unfortunately for us the Church is not helping us out. The lie is growing because we are letting it.  

Because here is the truth ladies:  If you are a child of God, you have already achieved your highest calling.

Do you get that?  I mean, in the marrow of your bones and the root of your emotion and worth, do you get that?

Being a wife is not your highest calling.
Being a mother is not your highest calling.
These are relationships.  Motherhood is a gift.  So is marriage.   But they are not our highest calling.

God did not make your for children.
He did not make your for a husband.
He made you for Himself.
It is in Him, and not in motherhood, that you are fulfilled.

We have made a martyr out of mothers and an idol of our children.  Kids are special and precious, YES, and being a mom is a wonderful, noble, beautiful thing. But it is not what Christ came and died for.  He came and died to have you as His.  And being a wife or mom may be part of that, but please understand the difference.  Dear sisters, let us not go on believing and perpetuating this lie that our status within a family unit is what is most important.  That we have not achieved or fulfilled Christ's purpose for us until we have those things.

Christ did not die so you could have a wedding.
He did not die so that you could create and carry life inside of you.
Let's stop defining ourselves and our spiritual ranking by the presence of a ring on our finger or a life in our uterus.

When did being a daughter of God stop being enough?  Stop being the ultimate thing?  

It makes me sad when a friend of mine who has an adopted child tells me she gets left out of conversation and women turn up their nose at her because she didn't experience childbirth.

It makes me angry that the mothers I know who work are looked down upon my stay at home moms.

It makes me grieve that stay at home moms I know can't just be the mom they are and not feel this enormous pressure to perform as a mom, and to always be more, more, more for the sake of approval of the other women around them.

What are we doing to each other??

I hate that my church defines community groups by marriage and age of children because it just perpetuates the lie.  I hate how I get left out of conversations and am not invited to things because I'm not a mom.  I hate that my single friends carry double the burden because of the things they are "lacking", and how we stick them in dark corners of the church as if they are saplings who have not fully developed because they are unwed.

I hate that being a woman of God isn't enough anymore.  I hate what's going to happen to the women who are getting their identity and purpose completely from being a mom in eighteen years when this identity marker moves away from home and they feel unwhole because of it.

Let's stop.  Let's be single and married and moms and not moms. Let's be women of God and have labels not matter.  Because we are the ones doing it to ourselves.

You know who Jesus wants us to be most like?

Him.

And he wasn't a mom, and he wasn't married either.

So there.

Monday, May 5, 2014

About birthdays and fear

I turn 32 today.

32.

I'll be honest and tell you, I was really anxious about 32.  Birthdays are weird like that, in that they affect each of us differently. 30 was not a big deal to me; I welcomed 30.  But I remember 24 being hard, and 26 being absolutely horrible. I have friends who had a hard time with 29; another who had a hard time with 35.

I was thinking about birthdays and how they're hard sometimes. I don't think it's necessarily getting older in and of itself that bothers us on those hard milestones. I think it's the age and the lack of what we thought we would have at that point or where we thought we would be that's so hard to deal with.

I'm 26 and single. Will I find someone?
I'm 35 and don't have children. Will I ever?
I'm 42 and divorced. Can I find love again?
I'm 24 and am still working two part time jobs. When will my career start?
I'm 51 and widowed. What now?
I'm 27 and never been kissed.
I'm 19 and don't know what I want to do with my life.
I'm 43 and am unsure of my purpose in life.

That's what makes birthdays hard; not the age but the absence of whatever it was we wanted, and the fear that it's slipping farther and farther away from being possible.

I was talking to a friend about this the other day; she knew I had been anxious about 32 and I told her that surprisingly, it wasn't as scary looking the closer I got to it. That my old thoughts of "I'm 32 but don't have xyz" had turned into "I'm 32, and don't have xyz, but God..."

And it floored me as I said it.

But God.

Two powerful words when put together.

I'm 26 and single. But God...
I'm 35 and don't have children. But God...
I'm 42 and divorced, but God...
I'm 34 and my marriage is over, but God...
I'm...But God.
But. God.
BUT GOD!

Do you see the power in that?  Any situation dwindles in the face of that truth. Any birthday fear evaporates when held up against that truth.

Abraham was infertile, but God.
Joseph was sold into slavery, but God.
Mary was a small unknown girl, but God.
The earth flooded under Noah's feet, but God.

I didn't get that job, but God.
I failed that test, but God.
We broke up, but God.
I am addicted to x, but God.
I have cancer, but God.

But God.

Two little words. One big God. One very powerful phrase. So take your sentences this week--your fears, your current age, your status, your reality, and add this to the end of is.  Because whatever happens in life, "but God" can change it all.

And that's worth celebrating.  So today I'll eat cake and celebrate God's but ;)