You know that feeling that creeps up after you talk with someone who loves to do something that you dread doing? You see the joy in their eyes, and when they just can’t stop talking about it, or posting about it online, this difference becomes solidified in your mind. And what do we do with that feeling right there? We have options: We can be jealous. We can shame ourselves for not being gifted at it. We can be indifferent. We can champion them. It is difficult to watch someone do something well that we’re not wired to do, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
God has had me on a journey about learning to embrace the gifts and traits that he has instilled in me for a purpose, and it’s led me to be able to truly celebrate the differences I have with others. It is such a beautifully, freeing place to be, and it is 100% rooted in having my identity in Christ, but I didn’t get here overnight, and I’m still not ‘there’ yet, but I am working to internalize it more every day. At first it takes courage to step out of the boat, away from the confines of comparison and who you perceive others want you to be, and instead walk out who God has made you to be, but once you start on this God-led path, it’s nearly impossible to turn back.
I sat with a beautiful soul the other day and listened to her pour out her passion for teaching preschool aged children. She couldn’t stop talking about it, and I truly enjoyed soaking in her life and learning from her. Teaching preschool aged kids could not be farther from my passion in life, and while I am intentional about teaching my kids at home, every single day I feel inadequate and automatically drained when faced with the task. And you know what was interesting as our time went on? She started to share about what makes her feel drained and inadequate, and she was describing things very close to my strengths and passions. At the end of our time, I was so blessed, and was truly inspired by her to try some new approaches in teaching my Littles. I also mentioned to her how beautiful the body of Christ is because her and I could be used in such different ways for God’s kingdom. However, there would have been a time in my life that I left that meeting feeling like I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t measure up to this friend, but instead I championed my sister in my heart, and also with my words.
There is a huge difference between feeling a pressure to fit into a mold that you know deep down you cannot squeeze into, and feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit over a sin area in your life. With that distinction clear and moving beyond sin issues, it is crucial to pay attention when you feel like you don’t fit into a certain role because these realizations about yourself help you learn more about exactly who God has made you to be. Sometimes our failures can tell us more about ourselves than our accomplishments. I’m afraid if we never explore our shortcomings as well as our strengths, we may spend our lives trying to fit our square shaped pegs into round, triangle, and diamond shaped holes, and the world will never get to fully know the people God crafted and purposed us to be.
I know intelligent and passionate stay-at-home moms
I know hardworking, inspiring, away-from-home working moms who kill it at work and at home.
I know selfless and very present moms who balance various roles of staying home, ministry, work, hobbies, activities and more.
There is much diversity even between these groupings. Not everyone works outside the home for the same reason, some choose to, some have to. Not everyone stays home with the kids for the same reason, some do out of intentionality, some may out of convenience. So, we can’t so easily stereotype these groups, can we?
I also know women with varying passions and roles:
I know women who are incredibly gifted with hospitality; it is such a clear extension of their relationship with God.
I know women who love people well, and are keen on perceiving others feelings and meeting their needs.
I know women who love administration, spreadsheets and the like, and who do it all excellently for the Lord.
I know women who homeschool their children and do it with such passion for Jesus.
I know women who work in the corporate world and are intentional about making that their mission field.
I know women who are stay-at-home moms who pour every bit of their heart into loving and discipling young hearts.
I know women who are constantly creating something with their hands, and their craft is used to bless others in meaningful ways.
I know women who are equipped and gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach the Word of God and lives are impacted because of it.
I know women who are extremely organized and who keep families and ministries afloat because of their dilligence.
Can you imagine the pain and frustration one of these above women would experience trying to be more like another woman on this list? And yet we do this to each other all the time, and we do it to ourselves. I believe our problem with comparison is so much deeper than feelings of jealousy, or not being content with yourself or your circumstances, it has so much more to do with who and what our identity is rooted in.
When our identity is firmed rooted in Jesus, we know that sin was our biggest problem, and that there was no amount of good things we could have done to cancel it out.
When our identity is deeply established in Christ, we know well the havoc sin reeks in our life apart from Jesus, and we cling to Him now.
When our identity is in Christ alone, we marvel at how we never could have earned a direct relationship with God or the undeserved gifts that He decided to give us.
When the Gospel-truth infuses our souls, it is life altering, and when it takes root and grows, it produces a love for others that is extravagant because we are fully aware that they need their identities rooted in Jesus too. There is nothing else this world, no other “bigger purpose outside of the home” that could ever, ever satisfy the deepest longings of our souls apart from loving God and loving others. When we’ve got our deepest problem remedied, we have no business bickering over surface differences. As women, we need to be in the business of championing each other back towards Jesus. As the days and years churn on, it’s always got be about the same thing. Jesus.
There’s a big difference between:
wanting to seek out a “bigger purpose” in the world out of discontentment and lack of relationship with Jesus.
reading God’s word, understanding His design and call to be the church, and then feeling a burden to go live that out, with your identity firmly rooted in Christ.
We also need to stop trying to nail down the ‘best way’ for a woman or mom to live out her faith because that just doesn’t line up with the beautifully diverse list of spiritual gifts, or the metaphor scripture gives us of the Body of Christ. When the ‘feet’ are rallying against the ‘eyes’ trying to make them feel like God is calling them to be more like feet and to “grow a pinky toe already” while citing Bible verses out of context, this is only making one part of the body feel better, while putting down the other, and hurting the entire Church body as a whole. Thank God we aren’t all the same, how boring would that be, and how could we ever accomplish anything worthwhile if we were a big old ball of feet?
Let us champion each others’ differences; instead of trying to prescribe the exact calling of every woman, let’s describe Christ’s call of every believer to serve God within their own unique mix of spiritual gifts, personality, passion, and coupled with varying seasons of life. It’s going to look different for everyone and that’s going to be awesome!
This is not a post that is meant to join a side of any debate or soapbox (stay at home mom vs working mom vs. homeschooling mom vs. social justice mom vs. pinterest mom vs. natural mom vs. hipster mom vs. Disney mom) this is one calling us to look at the bigger picture of the church, your role in it, and your brothers and sisters roles, which all vary. Can we please step outside of the unmet expectations in our lives and our insecurities and see something bigger, something beautiful, which is The Church, and that wasn’t a person’s invention by the way, but God’s design.
The church is our eternal family. When we become followers of Christ, our spiritual family, the church and our allegiance to Christ becomes more important than our worldly allegiances. It is natural to prioritize family above other relationships on earth, but the gospel of Christ unites us with people of the church in an eternal way.
Jesus directly touches on how our world allegiances must shift to Jesus-centered allegiance when he laid out the cost of following him- he does not permit our hearts to love anything as much as him. This is summed up in the first commandment and you see it in his interactions in the Gospels; people wanted to follow him, but when confronted with their idols of wealth, obligations and even family, Jesus uses some pretty strong language, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Now of course Jesus isn’t contradicting his command to love people here, but he’s making a pretty clear distinction about how our love should be ordered.
Discipleship of our family and of our children is certainly commanded and prioritized in Scripture. Should our jobs at church or the work place take precedence over our kids? Absolutely not. However, it is very easy to make our families and our children idols, and even use scripture to help defend this idea. Ministry to our children cannot be a reason to excuse ourselves from being the church by building up the local body. Would Jesus really have us focus so much on His calling to disciple our kids that we neglect the role he’s also called us to in the church? He would never have us neglect our children for the “sake of the church” either. But this dual call is really up to us to balance, and it’s not easy, which is why Paul said that it is better not to marry because our energy would be divided. I think the simple thing that many are missing here in this polarizing discussion is that we are in fact called to do both; we’re called to disciple our children and serve at home, and we’re called to disciple and serve in the local church.
When we become women who pursue the heart of God, and as His Word transforms the longings of our hearts into His desires – we find a confidence that no person can shake, a calling that is God-breathed into our souls, and a passion fueled by the Holy Spirit is to live it out, no matter the circumstance or ever changing season. Let us be women who champion each other along the way.