An Open Letter to My Pregnant Sister

I am the person least qualified to write a devotional for my sister, and she knows it because she heard me sound pretty exasperated with my girls the other day on the phone. However, because I love her the most, and am in these same trenches, I’ll just share what is valuable to me in this challenge and struggle called parenting.

There are people who say, “I was crazy to have children!” or “What was I thinking?” or “How did I get into this?” But, the truth is, you didn’t. You were led. Even the most diligent family planner was also chosen. God got you into this, and HE decided that you and your husband would now glorify Him best as parents, here at your current age. There was no, “how did I get into this?” about it. This was predestined from the beginning of time. You are going to be pregnant with your specific child through the hot summer months of the year 2014.

So before we go any further, this isn’t a congratulatory devotional on “Good job, sis,” it’s an “awed and on my knees” type of letter to you. God decided that YOU would best glorify Him as a parent and that it would be in your best interest too. This is humbling. This is grand. This is greater than us.

It’s important to mention this because quickly I forget. It’s back to “Good job, RJ” and “What did you plan for this child, RJ?” and “What are your thoughts for this child, RJ?” and RJ, RJ, RJ!

And really, parenting isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about our methods or styles or how soon they were potty-trained or what curriculum we use or how they behave in public. Even their sin isn’t about us. They’re responsible for it. It’s easy to look at that brand new baby and think their life revolves around you. We so often accuse babies of thinking everyone’s life revolves around them, but we mothers are guilty of the same thing with that child. In reality, they’re in your home for a short period of time, and then they’re off doing what God has planned for them. God has designed YOUR child specifically for this world, for the future years following 2014, for the life that they’ll live then and the relationship He’ll have with them.

And I get so caught up in the relationship they have with ME. I get so caught up in how they’re going to fulfill my life and satisfy me and bring me joy. And when they don’t do it – and oh! They don’t do it often! Then I’m bitter and upset and unsatisfied and angry.

Because it IS a battle. Parenting might just end up being the hardest thing you ever do. It will definitely be your hardest job. Do you know why? Because, unlike your husband, you didn’t pick a child ahead of time with a personality you enjoy and a maturity you can count on. Unlike your best friends, you didn’t choose a child that makes you laugh, loves to talk deeply about spiritual things with you, and is fun to be with. You may end up with someone you don’t understand whatsoever and is nothing like you. For sure, you will end up with a depraved sinner who, at first – and for who knows how long – wants nothing to do with your God. And that’s HARD. It’s hard to be around immature unbelievers 24/7. It’s not something I had ever done before or was ever truly prepared to do.

But that human being who you love so much but who can be so hard to live with and understand… Their life isn’t about you or your home – not really. God decided that THIS baby needed to be born because they were going to glorify Him. With their sins, with their successes, with their relationship with Him or without – although we sincerely pray that they are a powerful lover of God! Sure, you brought them into the world, but even the science of that would not have succeeded without God deciding, in His sovereign pleasure, that your baby, your specifically unique baby, was going to bring Him glory. Was going to bring good to you and your husband. Your hardships with this child, as well as your joy with this child, God decided is GOOD.

So yes, you have a responsibility. But even your responsibility is not really to this child in the end. It’s still about your relationship with God. And that frees you from the burden of failure or comparing yourself to others or worry, fear, and doubt. Even your parenting, breastfeeding schedules, homeschooling, and diaper changing are to further your relationship with God. When changing the 7th poopy diaper in a day becomes about you and your rights and the burden it is on you, it is instantly not about God any more. So no, it’s not “How dare you, my child, go against me and my plans for you” as I so often think and even say. Instead, it’s “Do you understand that you’ve hurt God who loves you and died for you? Do you understand the plan He has for you? Do you understand how to surrender your life to Him and turn away from sin? Can I tell you about how your repeated disobedience today has taught me more about my own inadequacy with God and how forgiven I am?”

I think a child brings you more joy than you thought possible, but also more hard work. Yet we hold the promise of knowing that we were specifically chosen for this task, as if God placed a sparkling crown that says “Mother” right on your head. So whyImage do we get bogged down with the results? Why do we fear what other mothers say? Why do we take personally how these little personalities that God created – we sure didn’t choose anything! – respond? I don’t know. If you figure it out, let me know. All I can tell is, it comes about when my own idols come to the surface – and you will discover you’re much more of a sinner than you thought! But how gracious of God to purify you even more – to make the ruby red of your heart shine with pure intensity and have no specks or planks in it! When I take my eyes off of that sparkly crown, off of God’s face above it that is reflected in its shiny surface: the crown that is my relationship with Him and the tasks He has given me, not the plans and ideas I have for myself and my kids, all mayhem in my soul begins.

I will never stop loving you, and I’ll never stop loving this child. Even before the baby has been born, I chose to love them wholeheartedly, because they is of my blood! And because this child is yours.

It’s the same with our Lord. Whether you feel like you’re a bad mother or a good one, the fact is, you’re a sinful one. And He will never stop loving you. Before you were born, He chose to love you and die for you because you have been washed in His blood. And because you are His.

I know, someday, you will finally, physically receive an imperishable crown and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Because that’s what you are: a servant. And you will understand how much of a servant you can be made to be in the next coming years! Fight the GOOD fight that glorifies God. We’re all here for you. We can’t wait to have you running alongside of us! I love you, sister.

The Story of My Friend Problems

 

I’m not going to name any names, but I think it’s good for me to share, especially with you young unmarried – or newly married – girls what you could very well find yourself getting into.

 

I’d like to share what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned.

For a little over two years, I had these friends.  We lived close, we went to the same church, and we did a lot of things together.  I was pretty clingy and could be controlling, I admit, but it’s not my fault for what they put me through.  I think it’s normal for these type of girls.

They were drop-dead gorgeous.  Everyone was remarking on how beautiful they were.  Some times it was nice to be associated with them because of this.  It made ME feel complimented!

They definitely, at times, treated me like their best friend, but, at other times, shunned me.  Some times I think they only put up with me to hang out with Brad.  😦  That wasn’t a pleasant thought.  Often times they acted totally different in front of my husband too, like he thought they were sweet girls when he didn’t see what went on when I was off doing girl things with them.

They tended to call me in the middle of the night – all hours of the night – some times just being snarky and catty.  They were SO emotional!  I mean, I know girls are, but this was over the top!  Some times they called me even to complain about each other!  Pitting me against each other tore me in two!  I was often just keeping the peace.  However, other times, they were like joined at the hip and I couldn’t even get close to their inner circle.  They’d pull pranks together, get in trouble, and ignored or lashed out at me because I tried to be the “good girl” and stop them.

They loved to eat my food too.  Like, they’d be sitting on the couch at my parents’ house or mine (later on) taking food off of my very person!  I’m sorry, but that’s kinda mine!

When we’d be out shopping, they’d make me foot the bill because they had no cash.  They owned tons of nice clothes, but I was always covering the cost of new ones for them.  I thought I was being a good friend.  I really cared about them.

One of them had tons of health problems.  I know quite a few were real, but some were so made up it wasn’t even funny.

When I’d ask to pray for their concerns or needs, they hardly paid attention.  And I worked so hard on that.  I shared the gospel with them a ton.

I’ve just really never seen a more selfish pair of people in all of the humans I’ve met.

And yet, I was in such a unique position to help them, to share about the Lord with them, and to serve them.  Even if they never served back and couldn’t care less about my needs.  See, the thing is, no matter how much they sinned against me or how self-serving and narcissistic they were… I love them.  I love them more than anyone else on the planet beside Brad.

 

 

Why did I put up with these girls, you ask?

 

 

Oh yeah, I forgot to include one detail: these friends are also known as “my children.”

Gotcha!

It laughed to myself so hard as I wrote this – come on, you know you’re smiling now too!  If we adults behaved the way children do out in the real world and to others, we’d probably end up in prison.  Like for assault and battery, thievery, or slander.  *wink*  Hee hee  You know it!

But I was struck with the fact that I do all of the above, and worse, to my Lord God.  To Him I am nothing but selfish.  I commit the same sins over and over again and demand His gifts and blessings.  I fuss and whine and am so incredibly stupid, in my little finite brain.  And yet He loves, and loves, and loves.

I think parenting makes Him sit and smile – maybe even laugh – because we’re getting a minor taste of what we’ve put Him through.  And that deep well of affection and devotion you feel for those crazy little monsters?  That’s only a taste of how God loves you too.

But don’t forget to hug a mother today.  Mother’s Day is in a month – some great gifts wouldn’t hurt as well.  😉