A Letter to Crunchy Christian Moms
New Creation, New Label
Dear Crunchy Christian Mom,
I see you.
I see how hard you work to keep your family healthy.
I see how you spend your evenings scouring the web for healthy recipes and engaging activities.
I see how attentive you are to your kids and how you try to always cook healthy meals from scratch.
I see how you give up some luxuries to afford a healthier life.
I see how much you love your family.
Do you want to know what else I see?
That you're a great mom--A fantastic mom!
And I would say that even if I didn't know about any of those things you do for your kids.
Because the truth is, you're a great mom regardless of the health of your kids.
The Ache of Growth
“Who am I, really?” I wish I had asked that of God many years ago.
As a child, I was the weird one. I was the one without a dad. I was the one with off-brand clothes. I was the teacher’s pet. I was the one with acne at ten years old.
As a teenage girl, I was the smart one. I was the one who fit in everywhere and nowhere. I was the one who sought attention. I was the one who rooted for the underdog. I was the one who could do it all but chose to do nothing.
All those descriptions are true, yet none are who I am. I know that now, but it took many years to get rid of the labels—the labels thrown at me by others and the ones I quietly placed on myself.
The Danger of Isolation
There is no growth without pain. From the achy legs of a childhood growth spurt, to the stiffness after a taxing workout, to the heartache of an emotional hardship. Growth almost always involves some level of pain. When it comes to our growth in spiritual maturity, it is no different.
Working the muscles of spiritual discipline and learning to live in the example of Jesus comes with discomfort. God even promises us that we will need to "take up our cross" and bear the weight of suffering at some point.
Pain is inevitable, but we can experience pain as a result of our detachment from our Heavenly Father or we can experience pain as a process for spiritual growth.
Same God, Different Call
I have never heard an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony that started with "I'd like to thank me, myself, and I for all of the hard work that it took to get here. I couldn't have done it without me." I've also never seen an acknowledgment section of a book contain the author's own name. Why? Because great accomplishments require a great effort by a great team.
If that's true for recording artists, film producers, and authors, then the same should be true for us as Christians. No great work for God can be done alone. Not only do we need God, but we need each other. The danger of isolating ourselves from the kingdom of God-- His people--is that we become unqualified for the work for which He created us.
You're Not the Hero of Your Story
I can recall the frustration I felt several years ago when I was helping out a single mom and I could not get others around me to join my cause. The woman recently had cancer, had major surgery, had little support from anyone, and had to take care of herself and her son. I felt led to give her some financial assistance for her rent one month, help with cleaning, stocking her fridge and freezer with meals, and helping her move. This wasn’t something I did for everyone; actually, it was the first time I had ever felt God ask me to connect with a complete stranger in this way.
As a result of my passion, I asked the people in my small group to help her out too. Some did, some did not. I couldn’t understand all the varying degrees of interest in the woman and her situation. Why was everyone not as passionately generous as I was?
I'm not the hero of my own story. You're not the hero of yours. How do I know that? Because we fail to live up to heroic standards all the time. We’re selfish and self-absorbed. Our words and deeds are not always for the good of others. Thankfully, that's a good thing.
In Scott Saul's book From Weakness to Strength, he says, "Jesus came for sinners, not heroes. Perhaps the recognition that we are not heroes can be an occasion--maybe the first one in quite some time--to fall into his healing arms." Being the hero means there’s no one to save us from ourselves.
Identifying ourselves as heroes instead of sinners keeps us trapped in our weakness. It isn't until we honestly identify ourselves as sinners that we allow God's healing to free us from our past and His strength to sustain us in the present.
3 Questions to Ask Before Starting Something New
Even as babies, we quickly learn there are consequences to the things we do. Scratching your face or poking your eye sends signals to your brain that results in feeling pain. The pain is meant to teach us that we shouldn't do those things. Parents use similar techniques to continue to teach; a firm "no" or grabbing of a little hand quickly communicates danger. But what happens when we grow up and life gets more complicated?
When adult decisions and consequences become more complex, it is easy to lose sight of the truth: pain is unavoidable no matter how "good" we are at making wise choices. We understand this to some level as we make lists of "pros and cons" to our choices. We do our best to weigh the positives and negatives so we can choose the path with the least discomfort. Yet, we still often seem to be caught off guard when A + B does not equal C as we intended.
No Perfect Parent
I admit that I can be impatient and impulsive. When I get excited about something, I want to start right away. Whether it's business or ministry opportunities, vacation plans, or the newest health fad, I want to jump right in with both feet.
Other times, I immediately dismiss an opportunity in front of me because it doesn't excite me or maybe it even scares me. My default in this situation is to drag my feet, avoid thinking about it, and hope it goes away. (If I can't see you, you can't see me... right?)
Either way, I am excluding God from the decision-making process.
I have learned through experience that I can save myself from future frustration and disappointment by asking myself a few questions before I say "yes" or "no" to something new.
Unseen: The Quiet Honor of Humble Obedience
There are a lot of ways to be a good mom. It can be really confusing. No two women will live, act, dress, work the exact same way. No two moms will raise their kids in the exact same way. Unfortunately, in a woman's quest to try to find the "one true way" of motherhood, she often starts mentally sorting methods of parenting into "good" and "bad" categories.
Formula feed = Bad
Co-sleeping = Good
Working mom = Bad
Organic food = Good
Every woman will sort things differently and those choices will mold her method of parenting. She'll see other moms making different decisions and wonder "am I wrong or is she wrong?" So how do we know if we have chosen the correct method when everyone seems to be doing something different?
From Christmas Pressure to Peace
Motherhood is often a thankless job. We aren't thanked for sacrificing our bodies, our sleep, our desires, our dreams, our personal space. We don't receive awards for the record number of bums and noses we wipe in our lifetime. We'll likely never be publicly acknowledged for the time we mended a favorite teddy bear or prepared a healthy meal. Most of what we do as moms will go quietly unnoticed, our sacrifices unseen.
As I write this, I am stretched out on my living room couch with my oldest daughter in a feverish slumber on the couch adjacent to me. She'll never know the prayers of healing I prayed over her, the extra time I took to make her chicken soup just the way she likes it, or the care I took to tiptoe past her so as not to wake her.
Motherhood is a sacrifice, yet it is a holy sacrifice. To accept the sacrifice of motherhood is to accept that what we do will be mostly unseen.
We will feel unseen.
Embracing Death Brings Life
Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Except for your house, on Christmas Eve, with presents still to wrap, dinner preparations to make, and out-of-town company to host. Your kids are hopped up on anticipation and sugar cookies, taking their usual volume of 10 to 100. The only thing silent is the screaming voice in your head telling you to cancel Christmas this year. And the only thing holy about this night is the run in your tights that won't be subdued by clear nail polish.
The celebration has turned into commiseration. If Christmas is supposed to be a time to celebrate Jesus, the Prince of Peace, then how have we wound up feeling no peace and all this pressure?
"Hopefully you don't miss the party," spoke the woman across the isle. I shifted nervously in my chair as I smiled and replied, "It's okay. It's my party so they can't start without me!" Sitting in the packed waiting room of a medical lab for the third time that month wasn't how I expected to spend my evening, right before heading to my own 30th birthday party. But nothing about this year has gone the way I expected. There have been more thoughts of death than I would have liked, but also way more opportunities to choose life than I would have imagined.
I had high expectations for turning thirty. I was ready for my twenties to be over and was looking forward to an amazing decade ahead. So when an alarming symptom appeared, just days before my birthday, I was shocked. After lab tests and doctor appointments with no answers, the shock turned to fear. What if this decade that brought me so much excitement was going to be ripped from me? What if all of the future plans and dreams I was anticipating were suddenly out of reach?
It took my husband and I several days before we could even speak out loud our greatest fear: this could be cancer.