Holiness or Happiness (by Lisa Anderson)
A good reality check . . .
Holiness or Happiness?
I read a great book by Gary Thomas entitled Sacred Marriage: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? Some people have fairly blissful marriages with little conflict. That has not been the case for us. Jim and I are as different as night and day. Additionally, I didn’t even know I was selfish until we got married. Because my parents never dealt with my strong will, Jim got the formidable task of dealing with it. That made the first years of our marriage challenging. Despite our differences, though, God called us together for His kingdom purposes, and He has used our marriage to refine and purify us over these past 38 years.
Bearing and raising children have accomplished the same goal in my life. They have dealt with my selfishness and self-centeredness in a way nothing else could have done. As hard as that has been, I can say it has been the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I always say that my younger children have a much more Jesus-like mother than my older children did when they were younger. Not that I am perfect, but I bear the image of Jesus more now than I did 35 years ago when I started mothering. That has happened through learning to sacrifice my time, energy, sleep, priorities, and desires. All those things have brought death to my flesh, but life to my spirit. Scripture tells us Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. Suffering (loss, sacrifice, sickness, etc.) has worked the purposes of God in my life. As difficult as that has been, I am thankful for it now.
Women shall be saved through the bearing of children (1 Timothy 2:15). One commentary I read said that saved here means sanctified. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus. That process is never easy. But it is so good. Scripture also tells us that the pain of childbirth is quickly forgotten when the joy of the child arrives. I can honestly tell you that all the hardships of early motherhood are just a vague memory now in light of the joy I have over my grown children. All the sleeplessness, exhaustion, feelings of being over-whelmed, and being stretched to the limit were worth it. Nothing compares to the end-fruit of my years of labor.
Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it;
but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.
By losing my life in the raising of my children, I have found it. I have discovered what is truly important in life. One side benefit is that because I learned to lay down my life for my children, I am now more easily able to lay it down for my elderly parents.
Dear moms, all the hardships you are experiencing in the raising of your children are worth it—in your life and in theirs. You are doing what is truly important. May you know new grace each day to die to self and allow His life to grow within you.
PS—This photo is of Galadriel Hardebeck, her husband Ben, and their beautiful children. She commented on my blog-post, The Power of Your Presence, with these words: Lisa, I loved this post! I recently went to Minnesota for a few days and my oldest (8) was crying, saying she was going to miss me. She said, "I just like knowing you're in the kitchen." I had to laugh because that's what I needed a vacation from! But it meant a lot to know that as she's getting more independent and doesn't constantly "need" me, she just likes knowing I'm there."
In what ways has marriage confronted your selfish nature?
In what ways has motherhood confronted your flesh?
What unrealistic expectations did you have regarding motherhood?
Share ways you have “found your life by losing it” in the care of your children.
Share one area in which you are being challenged to “lay down your life” in the service of your family. Pray for new grace for each woman in this area.
Pray that you be more and more conformed to the image of Christ as you walk this road of motherhood—that you have grace to yield and bend to the work of God in your lives on a daily basis.