Friday, November 18, 2011

Seeking to love when there's pressure to perform

The house is unusually quiet tonight because my kids are all sleeping soundly and Jon is out of town. I've never been afraid of being alone when Jon is away, but let me just say there are some strange sounds coming from the dining area. Oh well, it's too cozy here on the sofa to get up and investigate. It's not worth walking across the cold tile to find out it's just the branch that touches the window, and I'd rather not know if it's a mouse. Seriously, the tile in this place is like ice, and it feels like the cold creeps up my leg bones. Plus, what would I do if it is a mouse?

We've had a couple late nights this week, so this morning I let my kids sleep as long as they needed. Even my early bird Andrew set a record and slept till 9:30. We had a late pancake breakfast and eased into our school day. In an attempt to motivate everyone to work faster, I offered to take them to feed the ducks at a nature reserve close by. They have been saving heels of bread in the freezer for a couple weeks, but with one look outside at the clouds they unanimously agreed that a "cozy day at home" was better. So we finished up our work then settled in the living room to listen to an audio book and color. Jacob fell asleep against me, his head of overgrown hair nestled on my chest. I must have kissed the top of his head fifty times. That was way better than feeding the ducks. Later he helped me make a big pot of vegetable soup and repeatedly told me that I'm "the best mom he has ever had". Sweet kid, that little Jacob.

Yesterday the kids did a bunch of crafts. Some of our plans were scrapped because we discovered that most of our supplies are inaccessibly packed in the garage. I managed to come up with something for everyone to do, even though I had planned for an activity that involved paint.

Olivia took out her needle point and started a new tea towel. I'll have to get her to teach me some day...

Michael has been wanting to try a Crayon project I saw on Pinterest. It didn't quite turn out like the picture, because, after all, he is an eight year old boy who likes to see what happens when you don't follow directions. The melted wax is supposed to drip down the canvas in a rather straight line, but he happily discovered what happens when you blast hot air at melted wax. He had fun and I'm glad for it. He spent more time later hammering crayons to bits and melting them on a paper plate.

His next project is to disassemble that old hair dryer to see how it works on the inside.


I've been a little more reluctant to blog as often since we've moved because the things on my mind might be a little risky to blog about. Of course, not everything about life is meant to be public. My role as a pastor's wife is being redefined again in my heart, and I am learning so much about myself in the process. I know that a good number of the ladies who read my blog are preparing for a life of ministry alongside their husband, and I would love to share and record what I am discovering and overcoming. On the other hand, it is simply not worth the risk of being misunderstood or misrepresented. So until I feel at peace about sharing publicly, or until my mind settles on an entirely different topic, I imagine my posts will continue to remain a little sporadic.

There is one aspect of being a pastor's wife that I feel I can write about, however, but mostly for my own sake. Sometimes its good to write out what I'm working through. Over the last several months I've been evaluating my parenting approach and underlying convictions in terms of being a ministry family. In the process, I've come to see that, once again, it relates more to the fear of man vs. fear of God.

It is a plain reality that people watch the pastor's family closely. Some people are realistic and understand that we're just like everyone else, fallen sinners striving to grow in righteousness. Others are less gracious and more critical. This has been a fact that I've reluctantly come to terms with, and I can say with sincere thankfulness that this position is being used by God to root out some junk in my heart.

Back to parenting though, because I know I can easily go down rabbit trails here! For me, it would be so easy to begin to require my kids to act a certain way (or not act a certain way) because they are PKs. I could point out to them that people are watching. I could impose on them my stress and concern about what other people expect of them. My correction could easily be motivated by the fear of man, by being sinfully concerned about what people think of ME and how well I have trained them. I need to guard what I say to them as we pull into the church parking lot. I need to look for ways to encourage them when we leave and carefully determine on what grounds I may need to correct them.

I don't want them to feel that the pressure is on to perform. Performance is fake, and it will either lead to self-righteousness or resentment. It is not true obedience.

They need to know that no matter where we are and who we are with, our actions, words, and thoughts need to be for the glory of God and out of sincere love for Him. I need to take them back to God's perfect standard. I need to remember that.

All of this has caused me to evaluate what is good church behavior. I don't think it's best to train little soldier-like kids who are seen and not heard (unless it's "yes ma'am" and "no sir" type speech). There's plenty of that in some circles, but to be honest it kind of turns me off. We don't need to be squelching our children's personalities! No, they were each made with a purpose and with a unique personality. We shouldn't  seek to suppress that, or deny the simple fact that they are children.

Of course they need to be molded, directed, and instructed. They don't necessarily know what is reverent behavior, or proper social etiquette that varies according to the occasion and to the people present. But the reason for our behavior is to be clearly out of love for God and for others.

(Remember the roadside flowers we picked? They've turned into this pretty fluff.)

I want to love my kids. That sounds silly or simplistic, but I can't love them with a tender affection (Titus 2:4) and withhold grace and acceptance at the same time. I can't love them and burden them with expectations that are not of the Lord.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would mot be a servant of Christ. (Gal.1: 10)


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