Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Mountains I Build...

As I sit down to write today my heart and head are full. I don't often "put myself out there" on this blog, but today I am. If this is too heavy for you, I understand. But maybe, just maybe, someone else is struggling with the same things that I am. And, maybe, it'll just be a chance for someone to be reminded that missionaries are just ordinary people with ordinary struggles who serve on extraordinary God! I feel like I could write a book, but for your sakes, I won't! I'm sure you appreciate that!
Thoughts of my job have been swirling and rolling around and around in my head for weeks now. Not my job just as a missionary, but my whole job as a child of God. My job as a Christian, a missionary, a wife, a mommy, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a school teacher, a Sunday School teacher, a homemaker, a home keeper, a soulwinner, a discipler, a cook, a prayer warrior, a child trainer, a pastor's wife....and just like you, the list could go on and on!
Those who know me well will definitely tell you that I struggle with perfectionist tendencies. My husband calls it my "Martha Stewart Complex". I build up these towers of expectations for myself. No one puts these things on me but me. I am super-woman! I can do it all, and I can do it better than any other woman has ever done it! Perfectly clean house? Check! Delicious gourmet meals? Check! Superbly behaved children? Check! Dazzling Sunday School lessons? Check! Amazing homeschool lesson plans? Check! Add on top of that my missionary duties -- Perfect execution of the local language? Check! Hours spent in prayer for the people? Check! Translating the Bible? Check! The best discipleship lessons and counseling ever given? Check!
I'm a list maker. I always have been. So I draw up this gargantuan list of all the things I must do and how well I must do them. I imagine all these things coming flawlessly together. Oh, the beauty of the perfect life!
And then......
those towers that I've built, and those lists that I've made, and those day dreams that I've been having all start slipping, then sliding, then crashing down right on top of my head. And I find myself sitting underneath a pile of my broken dreams and crying and having a pity party for poor little ol' me.
Why? Because those things are sinful? No. Because I shouldn't strive to do my best? Nope again.
Why? Because those things are all about me. They are about me getting the glory and the praise that belong to Jesus my Savior. And He won't share His glory with another.
So what must I do? I must get up off the floor, push away all my plans and ideas, and ask Jesus to show me once again what He wants me to do. Ask Him what I should do or not do as His child, as a wife, as a mother, as a teacher......and the list goes on and on. And then, I ask Him to live through me so that His purpose can be fulfilled in my life.
Do I really do this all the time? No, I wish I did, but every time I get up from under the mess I've made and seek His guidance again, I come one step closer to my goal of a Christ-filled life.
And now I'm off to put these desires into actions, because I've got a bit of a mess to clean up!


  1. I am a list maker=) I think this is a Mary and Martha issue. I talked to my mother about Mary and Martha. I don't necessarily think I am a Martha, most days more a Mary with a tendency to be a Martha occasionally, but I CAN get so busy that I can't "STOP!!!" =)

    I also think I keep very busy so that I don't think of hard days passed (just being honest, here=). This is not a good habit, either!

    That being said, I know what you are saying, and I do the same things, and I have struggled with this thought in these past two weeks (a good book on the subject is Clutter to Clarity, by Nancy Twigg). So I think I will just control c your post and say I wrote it=) jk.

    No, really, my wonderful mom helped me. I said to her, "The Lord made Mary. The Lord made Martha. Mary can't be Martha; Martha can't be Mary. The Lord made worry wart, perfectionist Martha for a REASON. The Lord made laid back Mary for another reason. What is the truth? Martha wasn't wrong for preparing and making an afternoon special. Mary wasn't necessarily right for not helping--what is it the thought to grasp, Mom?"

    And she said=) simply, as always, "Martha missed the precious moment; the moment that could never be again. There are moments in time--in our daily life-- that will never be again." That has changed my heart for a few years now--I don't think I will ever forget this conversation with my mother.

    There is nothing wrong with lists and being who God created you to be, your personality, your sweet self. But, when it comes to missing the precious moments with God and with our family, we are wrong. It is not about being a Martha with a "Mary heart"--that is impossible, they are different women with very different personalities (We cannot pray to be a Mary, or Ruth, or Esther; we are who we are). It is, however, living with discernment and knowing when it is time to lay the list aside and enjoy the precious moments. They are there.

    I doubt you have a very big mess to clean up, anyway=) Hope your day is a lovely one, my list making pal=)

  2. I know what you mean.... it can be very overwhelming to be a Christian, wife, mommy, daughter, sister, friend ... and then you add missionary and pastor's wife on top of it. How can we do it all? I can't!!!

    Sometimes, I also feel much like your post. To be totally honest, I have had to let ALOT of my expectations go since coming to Canada.... my expectation of having clothes perfectly folded before being put away or a perfectly clean bathroom, that a 5 year old just cleaned???? What am I thinking??? Thank the Lord for a 5 year old that helps me and is a blessing to our home:) Most 5 yr olds have no idea how to clean a toilet.

    School can also really stress me out if I don't stay focused on the Lord. I often say to my husband, "There's got to be an easier way!". Sometimes I just wish life was simpler, and have been asking the Lord to show me ways to make it simpler. What is not important in the schooling? The Lord has revealed some things to me that I can just let go. For example: Most of the handwriting... once Colton learned cursive, I graded his writing on each Letters and Sounds and Language papers. This meant one less paper of the day. We also dropped all handwriting tests, and I grade the handwriting on the Phonics tests each week. Instead of doing meaningless writing... we can write to a missionary.
    The Lord also showed me that we could school 4 days a week, and accomplish what was needed.. that leaves each Monday as Family Day. You know that Saturday and Sunday is totally NOT family days:)

    A few months after arriving in Canada, I spoke with an older pastor's wife here. She told me.... "Make sure that you have done the most important things each day." This is a lady that has been here 30 years, and has experienced much heartache and joy in her home and ministry. There is such a drive harder mentality in our day in age. We need to be busy for the Lord, however I often think of Jacob after he met Esau in Genesis 33:13-14:
    "And he (Jacob) said unto him(Esau), My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir."
    I am very guilty of driving us all too hard. May the Lord help me to lead on softly to that we all are able to endure!

    Girl, I am in the boat with ya....and sure don't have all the answers, but know that I need the Lord and His strength to face each day! I know that the Lord would not give us more than we can handle. What is most important? Pray and ask the Lord to show you... and know that on the other side of the world there is another Christian, wife, mommy, daughter, sister, friend, and pastor's wife asking the Lord to show her-- and praying for you!

  3. Tennille VanHolder-CostonJune 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    wow...did you ever say everything I've been feeling and going through lately as well!
    The "Mary/Martha" issue has tormented me at times, causing me to question if God DID in fact create me this way, or have I simply been raised in a demanding culture/church circle...and if He DID make me this way, then for WHAT purpose?
    I so appreciate Jennie Bender's comments. God made BOTH Mary and Martha! Not to justify "busyness" and all that comes with it, but I DO hear an awful lot of negative teachings on Martha. Many of us assume that Jesus loved Mary more than Martha, but of course that's NOT true! :)
    You are right on to say it's all about HIS glory...it's all about "sitting" at the feet of JESUS.
    I find it SO difficult to REST! If all these "things" don't get done, I feel as if I'm being lazy!! Eeik! :-P
    I often need to be reminded that it's about a HEART condition. Is our heart focused on HIM? Or is it more on our agenda, OUR to-do lists, and OUR ministry?
    Thank you SO much for sharing!!

  4. Just wanted to say that I appreciate your transparency. I am and have been and probably will continue to battle this very issue in my own life. Thank you for your thoughts and perspective. - Ruth Hanson

  5. My dear, sweet friend. I can totally relate to your struggle...minus the mommy/wife part. It is something that I deal with every day. I want to be super-woman and I want everyone to notice how wonderful I am so I can pretend to be humble about it. I'm quite certain the Lord looks down and shakes His almighty head at me often. I have good intentions of wanting to serve God, but I tend to get in the way more often than not and the result is quite similar to the mess you have described. So know that you aren't alone! We all struggle, but so do caterpillars...until they are strong enough to fly. Hugs to you!