On Wednesday evening Misty & I went to the Women's Ministry Coffeehouse at my church. At the end of the evening they handed out this card.
Susan Goss, co-founder of The Joshua Center and Tangible Truth Ministries, was the guest speaker and she gave us all some great perspective and tools on how to love well, even when situations aren't loving. I'd love to share a few things that I took from the evening. Some things were needed reminders of lessons I have learned in the past, some were new ideas worth thinking on. So that I'm not misrepresenting Susan, I'm going to put her teaching points in italics. Everything in normal font is my own elaboration on the point.
-Loving well boils down to one thing. More of God, less of me.
-We can't love someone & be in relationship with them and still always be right. You have to pick one. You can always be right, but you may have to do it alone & angry. Or you can choose to be in a loving relationship (and I'm not just talking a romantic relationship, we're talking about all kinds of relationships here) and accept that sometimes being right isn't always the top priority.
-Pray to represent God well and for His creativity. I wrote this down because I found it interesting to pray for God's creativity. I mean, he's God, he doesn't need my permission or prayers to do His thing. But that's not what she meant. She elaborated by explaining that we often limit ourselves & how God can work in our lives by praying for only what we can imagine. Yes, Philippeans 4:6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God". That's true. Pray and be specific, but don't limit God by only praying for the solutions that you can imagine. If we pray for His creativity in our lives then we are opening up our hearts to the life that He has imagined for us, and I can attest to the fact that His handiwork often exceeds anything I ever imagined. (One proof of that truth calls me mommy and is currently sleeping in her crib.)
-All of our relationships should reflect our relationship with God. My response to something unloving (or anything, for that matter) is more of a reflection of me and my relationship with God than it is about the person or thing that is triggering me. Let that soak in for a minute.
-As a believer, your validation can ONLY come from God. If my happiness is based on someone else's behavior (or circumstances or anything that isn't God) then I will never really be happy. It's true y'all. I know this is true. I get caught up in the fuss of the world and the temporary things of this life and often find myself missing the target, but I can always come back to this truth. I am a daughter of the King. That is unchangeable. Our roles in this life, our possessions, our loved ones... all of those things can go away. If I had put all of my happiness and personal value in being Alex & Emma's momma, where would I be now? Lost and in despair, I'm certain. Using the term 'validation' is a new way of expressing it for me, but the sentiment is one that I've be acutely aware of for years. Lot's of things bring me joy and make me happy. My husband, my children, a good book, fresh pineapple, Sunday afternoon naps... all of these things make me happy. I like them. A lot. I find joy in them. But they are not my identity. They do not validate me as a human being. I am a daughter of the King and my validation does not come from anywhere but my God. All of those other things that I love so much? Those are gifts from my God.
-We all have a circle and everything inside that circle is ours. Everything outside the circle is God's and we need to stay out of it. If it helps, pull out a piece of paper and draw yourself a circle. Now, inside that circle write down everything in your life that you have 100% control over. Are you doing it? When Susan was introducing us to this idea, my list was short. Super short. I couldn't think of anything in my life that I have 100% control over. My brain started working overtime as I tried to think of at least one thing to put on my list. Thank goodness Susan continued talking and explaining. She used several examples and I wrote these two down because they applied most to my own life.
I am 100% in control of motherhood, but not of my child.
I am 100% in control of wifehood, but not of my husband.
I needed to hear those things and I'm grateful for the way they were explained. I am not in charge of Drew. I do not have control over him, nor am I meant to. What I am in charge of is my wifehood (Susan swears this is a word). I am in charge of what kind of wife I am. I am in control of how I participate in my marriage. I am in control of what I give and what I take from that relationship, but I am not in charge of what Drew gives or takes. Get it? I can apply this same idea to any relationship that I have.
I am in control of what kind of mother I am, but I am not in control of Eleanor. I find this one particularly convicting. Eleanor is not in my circle. That idea scares me, but it is absolutely the truth. I do not have control over who she is or who she grows up to be. I am responsible for raising her, for teaching her right from wrong, for teaching her to be loving and kind, for being an example of patience and forgiveness, for being a positive & effective influence in her life. I have 100% control over how I choose to do those things, but I am not in control of her. She is not in my circle. You know what that means? It means she is outside of my circle and that she is God's. I completely believe this and will try to remember this daily as I seek perspective on how to be the best momma for her. I'll do my part and trust God to do His.
These things spoke to my heart on Wednesday night and having going back over my notes and taken the time to make sense of them to share with you has helped me all over again. I hope that something here has been a reminder or a lesson for you, too. God is good, all the time.