If I Could Turn Back Time 2.0
First off (and I know this is late):
Happy Mother's Day!!
If you are a mother and reading this, The Lord put something on my heart for you today. Before I share that; I have an amazing mom. She truly has shown me what unconditional love is. And has never ceased to be here for me come hell or high water. She is someone who will forever be irreplaceable in my life.
As a mother, I believe you have the ability to make God smile in a way that no man ever could. God entrusted you to carry your children for nine months. To take good care of yourself so your child would be healthy (which, lets admit it - you needed a drink on certain days - and bad!) It is the nurturing nature of a mother that cannot be illustrated properly in words. I want to encourage you mothers in this: The Lord is pleased with you! Your role as a mother is such a big deal to Him! In our society and culture, it is so easy (and I have seen this struggle) for women to feel inadequate because they feel like they have no greater identity. Some of you feel like you can't pursue your dreams and goals (and raise a child). Some of you are doing it alone, and have no one to help! Some of you are deathly afraid that you are not doing it good enough. Or that you are a terrible mom. And sometimes it just feels like being a mom is the only identity you have left. Which in comparison to others, may seem far less superior, exciting, or as illustrious. And I want to encourage you to stomp out that line of thinking! Because God is SO proud of you! And you are honoring Him in ways you cannot imagine! Just like the Trinity represents the three parts of our perfect God, there are three things I believe that make the Lord extremely happy.
1. Loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
2. Being godly husbands and wives.
3. Being godly parents.
I believe wholeheartedly that God is all about family, and what it illustrates. And you as mother's have a role and reward that no one else could ever have or experience. Don't get sucked into the cultural lie about your identity as a mom. It is a HUGE deal to God! Take pride in it and know that God would rather you invest in that role for Him, than any other role you could have (even well meaning ones like ministry). And He cares far more about you being present and active as a mother for your children than anything else you could ever do. If you still feel uncertain about that read the book of Ruth (Old Testament). She lost her husband, traveled to an unfamiliar land. Lived her life to please The Lord, and He gave her a new husband. And through her children's children would come our Savior and Lord. And if that's not enough, read the beginning of Luke (New Testament). Mary, the mother of Jesus; she was a virgin with a child. And only had dreams and visions given by angels as to her excuse why. Imagine trying that line on the Montel show - "the lie detector test revealed that you really AREN'T the father!!" - "Yeeeyah....it was an angel."
In this post I want to give the men a little more time to ponder what I wrote last. There is more to come! We are not out of the water yet guys. I want to address something deeper within us that not only affects our marriages and relationships, but the very essence of who we are. Our character. Our nature. Our being. Who we are, is how we live (I know that's not very profound). I wonder how many of you feel like you have struggled with the same internal issues, for the better part of your life? If not your whole life. That's me. I want to be clear as to what I mean: struggles as in - fears, doubts, insecurity, inadequacy etc. When I evaluate myself, I can't pinpoint exactly when these issues took root in me. But never-the-less, they are here. We are a two part being; we are spirit and flesh. The Bible confirms this in Ephesians chapter six where it says "we do not struggle against flesh and blood". But we struggle with spiritual realities we have little knowledge of. I used to think fear was the opposite of faith. But i've come to believe that it's really not! It's putting faith (or trust) in your fears, and not in God. And so who we really are, and how we truly live is a deeper spiritual struggle within us. That creates waves in our physical lives.
I want to be the first to say, if you struggle inside: If one minute you feel like you have tons of faith, and the next minute it's deflated by the smallest thing - so do I. If you have fears lurking inside of you, so do I. If you feel insecure or uncertain, so do I. And it is that awareness that will give us the power to take back - our power. Let me tie this back in to relationship, or marriage. What did that look like for me prior to divorce. It looked like a guy who had more "mess" under the rug than he wanted to peek under and see. Some of it was rooted so deep that I was oblivious that it was even there. There were times in my marriage where my ex-wife would point things out to me. Because she saw the issue for what it was; but I just heard criticism. I didn't have the humility or the curiosity to consider what she was saying.
I want to side track for just a small moment and say how sad that is. That we can go to the altar and pledge our lives, for BETTER or WORSE, to another human being - someone we are already more intimate and close to than any other. Our best friend and soul mate! And often times, can't be bothered to let their better discernment of our character or flaws challenge us to become a more godly person. A more godly parent. And a more godly spouse (im not saying there isn't a loving way to go about that process). But that was me unfortunately. God's desire is that we could learn to challenge and inspire each other to become the best versions of ourselves. That is part of the blessing of marriage.
Back on track now - after divorce I knew that if I had ANY chance at restoration I would have to prove one thing. I. had. changed. In fact, one of the last conversations I ever had in person with my ex was one in which she told me that I would never change. She was thoroughly convinced it would never happen. Then she went on to say that even "if" I changed, she wouldn't want to be with even the best version of me. "Ouch" right? Yes and no. How many times has your heart been trampled over and over again, and then you were told to expect something different next time - and try to actually believe it? That was pretty much what I offered her in words (only because I could not fast forward time). Change was not negotiable for me. I was standing and praying for a miracle. And I knew that "if" the chance ever presented itself, she would have to be convinced beyond all doubt that I was a new man. That the old "me" was officially dead. If she didn't come back, I knew I couldn't afford to let the old me destroy my new blessing.
I think I mentioned this two posts ago about getting with yourself and God. And letting go of those fears. Evaluating the inner ugliness is not fun, by any means! But it is SO necessary! I had to figure out what my inner struggles were. I needed to know; not only what I was up against - but what the next person would be up against with me. So awareness for me led to conviction. The moment in which I knew what my main issues were. Then my convictions led to action. It was time to start taking control of the "monstrosities" inside me. That is easier said than done. And it takes a lot of prayer, honesty, patience, humility, but maybe most of all; desire. You. have to want. to change. Because no one will ever change you. But I can promise you this:
Anything you don't deal with will be waiting for you in another season of your life.
It's not uncommon for people to have multiple divorces on their records. Because they were broken when they went into the first relationship - they were broken when they divorced that relationship - and they get into another one still broken. We ALL experience brokenness. We have to realize that even the ones that seemed to create so much hurt and pain in our lives, are loved by God too. And they have flaws like we have flaws. And their sin was paid for on the cross like ours was. It's hard to carry that perspective despite lingering pain. But bitterness and anger will only destroy you. It's not hurting them. And maybe that's one of the things lurking under your rug? And I understand. I had to deal with that too. But it is so important to deal with "self." To figure out what our inner struggles really are, so we can become the people that God wants us to be. So that we don't blow the blessings He gives us. And praise God that He gives us second, third, and one hundredth chances. And we can take pride in the finished product of His work in us, as we deal with our struggles.
You don't have to do this alone. Ask God for help! Pray and ask Him to help point out all the things that need to be dealt with. And then commit yourself to the process of dealing with them. And don't give up when it's hard! Here is the formula God has given me recently: Pray. Wait. Trust. Believe. Pray for His guidance and help. Trust Him to help you, change you, and deliver you. Believe that what you have prayed for and are trusting Him for is now being put into motion in your life. If you sell out to that process, you will overcome your struggles. I want to be real and set realistic expectations. Sadly, some of our innermost struggles may always crop up in life. We may never see it go away entirely. But the power we give it over our lives is well within our control. So being aware and staying aware of how you are doing as time goes on, will always be important.
Lastly, I want to say this:
I think anytime I have ever heard someone talk about standards, it's always been in reference to someone or something else. Or in other words; I want someone like this or that. And they have to act like this or that. They have to look a certain way, smile a certain way. They have to have such and such skills or education etc etc etc. This is why we fail.
Ponder that for a moment.
We set standards that someone else has to meet, but fail to be the very standard you expected them to meet. Hear me out on this. I'm not saying that having a standard for the right qualities is wrong. I'm saying that if we ignore the importance of being the standard - we - are in the wrong! In fact, if we focused on being the standard ourselves we probably wouldn't need standards! Godly women wouldn't be asking "where are all the godly guys?" And the godly men wouldn't be saying "where are all the godly women?" It exposes our selfishness. We want something incredible. But do we offer anything incredible in return. Let this be an opportunity to become that. Let the change God can do in you as you face your struggles, raise the bar of what you have to give. I have every desire to be married again, and for the first time in my life - without a doubt; I want to be a dad. I've got to show up ready this time. Because if the storms of life don't test me, my inner storms will. And whoever God blesses me with, His daughter will deserve the best. It is His standard that matters. It's being worthy of receiving the gift that she is.