Tuesday, June 5, 2012

turn your competition into encouragement

"as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" proverbs 27:17

"[older women] are to teach what is good and so train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled" titus 2:3-5

in the midst of thinking about resisting the temptation to compete in motherhood, i do want to make a caveat so that we aren't rejecting the good in the midst of the bad.

let other mothers be an encouragement and a positive challenge to you in order to make you a more godly mother.

here are some examples.  say you know a mother who has scripture memory plan for her toddler.  you are surprised and impressed to see that he already knows about five bible verses by heart.  your toddler doesn't even know what the bible is.

another mother you know has made some huge sacrifices in order to breast feed her baby, because she believes that the nourishment is important for her baby's life long health.  she struggles to produce enough milk, and still sacrificially wakes up every night to pump milk to make sure she has enough, even though her baby was sleeping through the night long ago. furthermore, she does it all without complaining.  you gave up breast feeding after a few weeks of difficulty, complaining the whole way through.

another mother you know has decided to be a stay at home mom, even though she has an advanced degree.  her and her husband are struggling financially to get by, but she counts the trial as a joy that she might get to invest in her children full time.  and miraculously, God keeps providing for their every need even when it seems like they are almost to the bottom of their bank account.  you and your husband didn't want to have to worry about money after having kids, so you work full time, while your three little ones are in day care and preschool.

in each of these situations, you may feel inadequate as you compare yourself to these moms. "wow, they are such great mothers, and really have it all together!" you may think.  your initial reaction may be jealousy and a competitive heart.  "maybe if i try harder, i can be better than them!"

but then, in your struggle to avoid being competitive, you might go to the opposite end of the spectrum.  you may think "well, i could never do that, so i wont even try to do what she is doing" or, "thats fine for them, but we do things differently."

i would challenge you to take a different perspective all together.  specifically i would encourage you to meditate on the gospel and pray about how you can incorporate others' examples into your life.

first of all, immerse yourself in the gospel.  know that jesus came for sinners, and you are probably the chief sinner you know (if you aren't, then you are blind to your sin in some way!).  your inadequacy in motherhood may stem from sin.  you don't have to run in shame and try to hide your sin, you can bring it to the open, confess it and find freedom and forgiveness for it.  maybe you are being lazy, or you are loving the world, or you are not loving your husband and children.  confess and repent, and be encouraged to know that God uses sinners, especially those who are repenting of sin and seeking Him.  open your bible and be amazed at how he uses some of the most sinful people you could imagine.  use your gratefulness for your forgiveness to motivate you and spur you on toward more love and good deeds.

secondly, pray about and consider how you can emulate these mothers' examples.  God places us in community so that we can love one another and build one another up, often time by the example of one another's lives.  he may want you to exactly emulate them, or slightly modify their example.

to continue with the first example, maybe you need to just start reading the bible with your toddler, and think about scripture memory at some point in the future.  or maybe you need to take the step of faith to start memorizing scripture with him today, right now. (so, go sit down with him and do it!)

maybe you are convicted of your lack of homeward focus, so you decide to look into cutting your hours back at work so that you can have some more time with your children.  or maybe you will decide to take a bigger step of faith, walk into your bosses' office and quit your job right then and there, and ask God for the faith in His provision that you see in your friend.

 "let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." hebrews 10:24-25

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