What Good Am I?

I’ve fallen behind from where I wanted to be with my book-writing, but I’m still plugging along. It’s at a slower, less productive pace than I was aiming for, but it’s progress, nonetheless.

What Good Am I-

One thing that has really surprised me in writing this book is how much I’ve forgotten about my own marriage, and life in general. All of these memories and circumstances that have been crowded out by new memories and circumstances, have been finding their way to the surface of my mind. I’ve found myself reminiscing about a lot of my past experiences, what they were, who was involved, and how they might have contributed to the person I am today.

Along those lines, there’s been a giant dose of self-consciousness heaped upon me, especially in moving forward with the book.
“Oh dear…I did that.”
“Oh gosh, I forgot about how foolish I was when I….”
“Ugh, I was hoping to never remember that again…”

These are some of the thoughts I’ve wrestled with as I type along, hoping to impart wisdom on relationships and marriage to anyone who might read it one day.

And “wrestled with” is putting it lightly. My emotions have taken over in an all-out brawl at times as I recall choices I made, people I hurt, or promises I broke.

Many mornings I’ve woken up with some great ideas, only to talk myself out of them. You can’t do that because you lost credibility when you ____(fill in the blank with something from my past)____. No one will listen to you, because they’ll remember when you said, “___(fill in the blank with something hurtful or unfounded)___.” 

I’m constantly talking myself down. I struggle, also, with whether or not I’m being narcissistic in this venture. Why would anyone trust I have anything helpful to share about marriage, or life in general? Why, when we live in a world where everyone wants to be heard, do I think I need to be heard above any single one of them? How does my message benefit anyone? What hasn’t been said before? I don’t research, I don’t counsel, I don’t have any degree or letters after my name that credit me as any kind of authority on marriage, or relationships.

What good am I?

I slink back in my own little shell, being a mama, a wife, and employee. I have nothing to offer other than what’s before me. What I’m required to do well in. My worth is counted in my pre-programmed tasks. I loaded the dishwasher today – score! I kept Little Man from bathing himself in yogurt today – score!

Honestly, some days, that’s all I can manage. But that’s not all I was created to be, and certainly not what all of my days were meant for.

Those self-deprecating statements, those triggers from my past that hold me down in a pit of unworthiness, and those burdensome chains of doubt and insecurity are all gifts to me from the father of lies. He wants to hold me in bondage. He wants to shame me. He wants me to forego healing, and cling to hurt. His business is keeping me out of the business of helping others, and of helping myself. His business is ruining marriages, and anyone who tries to build them up. His business is destruction.

The other morning, as I was reading my Bible, I read this passage from Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I’m a crier, admittedly, but I only remember crying fewer than a handful of times with regard to scripture. Until I read that passage. I surprised myself with how choked up I became. This beautiful depiction of God’s omniscience nearly did me in. He knows me. He knows everything I’ve done, everything I’ll do, and still, He lays His hand upon me.

He doesn’t reject me. He doesn’t show me every way in which I’ve failed. He doesn’t tell me I’d better not pursue anything better than what I have right now because what I’ve done in life prevents me from deserving more.

He lays His hand upon me.

When you’re at your worst, scared you’ll be unaccepted, shunned, dismissed, and you’re embraced instead – you know unconditional love. He doesn’t want to condemn me – He invites me to continue on with Him.

He knows everything. Everyone. Eternally. It’s not my story I’m telling. It’s not my mistakes or shortcomings I’m proclaiming victory over. It’s His story. His glory. His purpose.

He lays His hand upon me. And I keep writing.

Parenting Is Not My Spiritual Gift

Parenting is, by far, the toughest job there is. Not only are you developing a relationship with your child, but you’re teaching them, protecting them, instructing, disciplining, holding them accountable, cleaning up after them, cleaning them, cleaning yourself because of them, kissing boo-boos, playing with imaginary toys in imaginary castles, feeding them, loving them, investing in them….and then it’s time to think about lunch, and how you’re going to spend the rest of the day with your kids.

It’s exhausting. And rewarding. And not at all my gift.

Parenting Is Not My

To be clear, parenting isn’t listed in the Bible as a spiritual gift. But it is a holy assignment, and does come more naturally to some than others. I am not a natural-born parent.

I’m not a bad parent, and I’ve sworn off wearing that hat or beating myself up for not being the Pinterest mom of the year. I love my kids, love spending time with them, and am so very thankful God chose me to be their mama. I also get pretty short with them, have a hard time being hung on constantly, and the less me-time I have, the more I require to recharge.

There was a time when being a mother was nowhere on my radar. I was far too selfish, too independent, and too comfortable to imagine having everything in my life (and my home) turned completely upside down by having a child or three.

Seven years into our marriage, I birthed Little Miss. Our lives have since become a happy “little mess”.

Little Miss was essentially the perfect child. She was content, happy, playful, adorable, and thrived on her own routine. She wanted to be rocked and snuggled, she rarely fussed, she was rarely sick, and she was an awesome traveler on long road trips to see family.

This also instilled in me the false perception that because she was such an amazing kid, I – obviously – was an amazing mother.

After we lost Harlynn, life as I knew it came crashing down around me. My perception was changed, my priorities changed, and I knew the aches and pains of motherhood on a level no one should ever have to experience. I was able to mother her for 37 all-too-short weeks, and she changed my life. I now parent beyond the grave, honoring her memory – and her life – at every opportunity. I’ve tasked myself with ensuring she remains a tangible part of our lives, and of our family.

After we buried our daughter, I no longer believed at all I was an amazing mother. What kind of mother lets her own body betray her? What kind of mother lets her child die within her womb? Shouldn’t I have known something? Shouldn’t I have been able to stop it? Done something differently? Kept her alive? I couldn’t even bring a full-term child into the world. My mothering failed before it ever began.

I’m still recovering from that betrayal. I still struggle with all that losing her robbed me of. I no longer operate under the false pretense anything I did as a human being led me to being an amazing mom. If my kids turn out, it’s because of God’s grace.

I’m not amazing. But the miracle of life sure is. The fact that I get to be a parent at all….is pretty amazing.

Little Man arrived after a hellaciously agonizing pregnancy. We nearly lost him as well, and five weeks premature, he was delivered in to life and safety.

He is now comprised of brute strength. He climbs over – or through – whatever blocks his way. He refuses sleep. He eats more than I do. He loves to wrestle. He’s very physical, very active, and very tough. He uses his head to plow through most obstacles, and is totally unfazed by it. This whole boy-raising thing is totally foreign to me.

Some days I feel completely incompetent. Parenting is more than loving my kids. It’s raising them to do right. Be right. Choose right. It’s helping them discover their individual meaning in life. Keeping them from eating power cords. (Little Man!) Answering their tough questions.

I want to make memories for them other than me losing my cool, or speaking at them through gritted teeth or raised voice. I want them to believe me when I tell them, “I love you”, no matter how tough I have to love them at times. I want them to know I’m doing my best, but my best is only because I have to work really hard at it – not because it comes naturally to me.

Parenting isn’t my spiritual gift. But it IS a gift I’m able to parent at all. It’s something I don’t take lightly. And on days I’d rather put my head in the sand or find an easy button, I have to turn to the ultimate parent: the Father who created it all in the first place.

Start children off on the way they