Sunday, May 26, 2019

When my "Maybe Someday" Doesn't Happen and I'm Left Longing

When my first son was born, I was so ecstatic that it was a boy. My husband had his first-born-son, and with that desire of his fulfilled, I felt I could give in fully to my own desires for a girl. Each pregnancy as we would have our ultrasound and hear “It’s a boy!” that hope would dwindle just a little, but the hope was still there, nonetheless.

Through the past ten years of having only boys, I would come across pictures of little girls or moms with their daughters, and my own longings would rise of desiring to share in that kind of legacy myself. Most times, I would sigh and console myself with the thoughts of “Maybe Someday!”

Several weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Pinterest feed when I came across a little girl dressed in a sparkly blue princess dress who was just about to curtsy. That familiar ache rose into my chest, I immediately thought “Maybe Someday” and continued to scroll. Then I realized what I had just done, and my heart dropped as I reminded myself that it won’t be that "Maybe Someday" anymore. That season is over. We have six sons. This is God’s best for us, and there’s no more looking to the future of “someday” that my heart’s desire will be fulfilled.

I paused and pondered the ways I had consoled myself each time those longings surfaced. And I realized that my “Maybe Someday” thought was my heart grasping at the illusion of having a daughter as my ultimate fulfillment – my heaven on earth. Really, when I looked deeper into those dark corners and exposed my hopes for what they were, I saw the truth. I had been worshiping an idea of future perfection. I had been setting my sights on an ideal that may happen in the days to come and expecting that the fulfillment would bring me perfect joy, delight, and happiness.

I’ve found myself here before – worship, such an easy thing to misplace – idolatry, popping up in my life again. In my focus on my “Maybe Someday,” I was disregarding the one thing (Person) who is the very fulfillment of that piece of my heart that is missing. Jesus gives me himself – wholly and freely. Having a daughter could never fill that void.

In the past, it was my desire for a husband – then life would be perfect.

If I had a child – then I would feel whole.

If we owned our own home – then I could feel like I could rest.

If only I didn’t have to work and could stay at home – then I could find my identity.

If I could just lose those pounds – then I would feel confident.

But each time, when the desire was fulfilled, I still found myself longing for the next best thing. And in the moments that my “Maybe Someday” didn’t come to pass, I felt jaded, depressed, and overlooked.

My friends, our hearts were made for eternity. We were fashioned with a longing, a longing that cannot be fulfilled in completeness this side of heaven. We desire beauty, peace, rest, comfort, perfect love, and so much more. But these things, these gifts that we have been privileged to experience on this tangible earth that we walk are only an imitation at best of what our heart desperately needs. And Christ as the giver has provided that in himself, in the giving of his Holy Spirit to walk with us. Each time we settle for anything less, we are like the children C.S. Lewis talks about who settle for playing with mud pies when they have been offered and ocean vacation (TheWeight of Glory).

Maybe your desires aren’t like mine. Your “Maybe Someday” might be about escaping from a painful relationship, finding financial stability, desiring healing for a loved one, finding a close friend, seeing that child turn back to the faith, or God easing your own physical pain. None of these desires are wrong in and of themselves. It’s when we allow our hearts to idolize our “Maybe Someday” and expect that result to bring about our salvation or ultimate joy that we step over the line.

Jesus is here, longing to bless us far more abundantly than we could ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Your “Maybe Someday” may be fulfilled, and God may choose to gift you with a taste of himself in that way, but please don’t worship that gift. Glorify the giver!

Or like me, you may sit with empty hands and a “Maybe Someday” that will never be. Don’t let that pull your heart away from the only one who can fill it! We must realize that what our hearts long to experience maybe someday is not something we can find this side of eternity. Anything less than Jesus Christ, himself will leave us longing for more and cause us to idolize that for which we long.

Jesus offers himself. He is our perfect peace – even when life is not perfect. He gives us grace to do what is right – even when it is the last things we want to do. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. And when I am left with longings unfulfilled, he shows me that he is more than enough. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

It's Mother Day: Please Treat me Like a Goddess!

The alarm rang waking me from my slumber. I turned over and silenced it then sighed. It was Mother’s Day. I now had four little boys who were under my care. I smiled at the privilege of being called their mom. As I sat up and stretched, my mind filled with curious thought of what my husband had planned in order to celebrate me. Maybe flowers? Chocolates? A hot breakfast? I knew he would be heading to work soon—that’s the life of a firefighter—and I had already psyched myself up for taking four little boys to church on my own on Mother’s day. But I just knew he probably had done something to make me feel special. 

A Disappointing Surprise

I put on my house shoes and padded to the kitchen just as I heard the garage door close. I glanced around. Everything looked fairly normal. Standing on my tiptoes, I peered across the room to the dining room table. Nothing. I heard the rumble of my husband’s truck as he pulled out, and my heart fell to my stomach. No flowers. No chocolates. Nothing even set out for breakfast. To top it all off, he hadn’t even kissed me before he left or wished me happy Mother’s Day. Heat rose in my face as anger and great disappointment filled my chest. Forget it, I didn’t care anyway (or at least I tried to convince myself of such.) Time to be strong and get my boys ready for church!

Over the next hour, I bathed, fed, dressed and readied four boys (one still being a nursing infant) and myself for church. We were ready to go, and I glanced at the clock. I still had ten minutes. Fantastic! I realized I needed a moment to reset from the stress and disappointment of the morning, so I set the boys up with a movie and retreated to my room. 

A Moment to Reset

As I quieted my heart, I breathed deeply. I let my mind roam over what my expectations had been for the day. I work so hard all the time. Wasn’t Mother’s Day supposed to be a day to celebrate me? It was rare to hear gratitude throughout the year. My oldest was only five; he wasn’t aware of the sacrifice of motherhood, but didn’t I deserve at least some acknowledgement from my husband on today of all days? I followed David’s pattern from the Psalms “Pour out your heart to him, God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8) and allowed my heart and my eyes to leak all the emotions of the morning. As I expressed my heart to my loving Jesus, He gently put His finger on a soft spot and pointed out a dangerous line that I was toeing.

It was Mother’s Day. It was also a Sunday. I was getting myself and my kids ready to head to church – to worship the God of the Universe with fellow believers. And here I was, sulking that I had not received accolades for my position as a mother. How sacrilegious! 

Idolatries in My Past

In the past, God had used various circumstances, speakers, or events to point out areas of idolatry in my life. Now, this didn’t look like the “household gods” described in the old testament. I hadn’t created a shrine for an idol and practiced worship in a formal sense. However, there had been areas of my life where I would find my comfort in things or activities rather than in God. For instance, I’ve always struggled with dealing with strong emotions, so I found it distracting and satisfying to grab a big bowl of ice cream or indulge in binge watching a favorite show or losing myself in a good novel. None of these things are wrong in themselves, but none of these things could fill or heal my heart the way Jesus could. And when I would run to these things first, I was putting them in the place of God. I was worshiping ice cream for how it made me feel. I was worshiping TV shows for how they helped me relax. I was worshiping novels for how they helped me escape. As Jesus had gently made me aware of these things in the past, I was able to work through confession and surrender and walk in new ways of seeking Him first to fill those emotional needs when I was struggling.

A Step Further: and not in a Good Direction

This time it was different. This time, I had taken a step further. I wasn’t worshiping some item or idea. I wanted to be the one my husband and sons were worshiping! My heart broke at the truth of what God was showing me. The reason I was so angry about no flowers, no chocolates, no breakfast, no “Happy Mother’s Day” was because I wanted to be the little “g” god in my family’s lives. 

Yet He Delights in Me!

In those last few moments before I ushered my sons out the door to church, I got down on my knees and confessed my pride, my arrogance, and my idolatry against my King. I was so grateful for His gentle conviction and began to praise him for who he was rather than claiming praise for what I had done. And Jesus spoke back to my heart: Hannah, I will never worship you, just as no one else should. But I want you to know that I delight in you, even when no one else does. (Zephaniah 3:17) At that moment, the chocolates and the flowers and the accolades no longer mattered. The King of the universe found delight in me!

Worshipping Him

I loaded the boys up and headed to church with a renewed joy. The morning wasn’t perfect. It was raining. I had three of my four boys splashing in puddles as we walked in the door. The infant cried through parts of Sunday school and church, getting the boys in the car was challenging, no one made me lunch, I didn’t get a nap, and my boys still didn’t realize it was Mother’s Day. But this Sunday truly was a delightful Mother’s day – because I chose to worship the God who made me a mother, and I realized that he delighted in me and my motherhood. And that’s what really mattered!

(By the way, the following day when my husband got off shift, he did wish me “Happy Mother’s Day” and bought me some flowers too!)