Saturday, April 2, 2011

No Greater Work on Earth

Are you where you'd thought you'd be 5 years ago? 5 years ago I was a newly engaged young kindergarten teacher who couldn't wait for my life to start. I was in the midst of planning the wedding of my dreams, working hard and trying to figure out what it meant to be a wife. Now, 5 years later, many things have changed. In many ways I am right where I'd thought I'd be - married to my love and staying home with my babies. In other ways I am very surprised that this is where I am. I never thought that I would be living in Texas, or that I'd be living without my dad already, that I would have lost a baby or buried a nephew. I never thought I would struggle with anger or worry this much about money. I never thought that marriage would be such a rollercoaster of emotions, or that babies would be this much work. The world paints a picture through movies, magazines and books that when you find "the right one" everything becomes sunshine and lollipops. The perfect mate would never make me cry, understand all of my needs without being told, and our perfect children would be sweet, loving and disciplined. But I was looking through the lens of someone who knew nothing of life. I had never really had to care for myself before, and definitely never had the entire well-being and training of someone else to consider. My life was my own, and in my selfish worldview everyone was here for my enjoyment, pleasure and benefit. Then I got married. And had kids. Suddenly what I wanted wasn't the most important thing. I was forced to consider others above myself. And you know what? It was hard. And it was wonderful. This life of service to my family has become my ministry. I have learned so much more about myself in this process than any other thing I have done. I have learned of my very sinful nature and great need for grace. I have learned how very weak I am and how very strong my God is. I have learned that the moments when I put the Lord first and foremost, and serve others are the moments I am truly happy. And I have learned that the moments that I think of myself, worry about my comfort and consider myself first that I am miserable. So opposite of what the world preaches, huh? We are told to take time for ourselves, love ourselves, and make sure that we're happy. While those suggestions sound nice, they really point us to a selfish life. We are to make ourselves happy first and then serve others? Where exactly in the Bible is that? Where do you see Jesus telling someone that He'd love to heal them, but He's on His way for some quiet time and He'll catch them later? You don't. Because the life that Jesus modeled for us, and the life that He calls us to is one of service. It is a life in which we are to lay down our lives for our brothers, consider others better than ourselves and follow the Lord regardless of the threat to ourselves. What I see today with so many families is an unwillingness to put someone else first. It seems most people have gotten their marriage counsel from Cosmo rather than the Bible. People expect to "have it all" and all right now. It seems that no one is willing to do the hard work required. People want good children, but don't want to discipline. People want a close family while handing their kids off to daycare providers 12 hours a day, sports practice, and then in front of the TV without really having a conversation with them. Why are we surprised that families are falling apart when no one is willing to make hard choices or make their families a priority? How can a marriage survive when both the husband and the wife are never home, or spend any time together? How can a child feel loved and wanted when shipped off each day to strangers while mom and dad do "more important work?" While I understand that there are times when people have no choice, the overwhelming majority of people who work insane hours and send their kids off to others are simply looking for more money, a nicer car, a bigger house or more toys. This probably sounds like very harsh judgment, but really I am coming from a place of true heartbreak. I watch as people I love make choices based on their emotions and desire to feel "happy" or have a "better life" while tearing apart their families and their lives. I watch as more and more people buy into the lie that what you do for a living is more important than who you love. I watch as dads pass on their responsibility and subsequent joy to others, and while mothers act as though their precious children are nothing more than a giant nuisance. This breaks my heart. I ache for these people who are making choices based on fear of missing something or the lies that a better life lies outside their own 4 walls. I want them to have all the joy and peace that comes from a heart submitted to the Lord and serving others. I want them to reap the benefits of the hard work of living for your family. I'm sorry for the rant, but all too often I have been hearing of people wondering what happened to their families when they walked away from them years before. 5 years ago I was believing the lie that the family that I hoped for and dreamed of would just happen in the right circumstances. Now, by the grace of God, I have learned that I have a big role to play, and a lot of work to do. These relationships won't just happen - they require tender care, the counsel of the Lord, dying to myself and my sinful desire and service. But there is no greater work on earth!

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