Have you ever had someone assume something about you from the way your life looks in a snapshot moment? For better or for worse? Having 5 kids has pushed the door wide open for people to make all sorts of assumptions about me. And for some reason, voice these assumptions. If all of my children are behaving, I am assumed to be Mormon, Catholic, or the nanny. And if even one child is having a rough time, I am assumed to be an incapable mom who must not know how to take birth control the right way. Honestly, when a toddler starts crying there is always someone lurking behind the corner waiting to make the contraceptive jokes. But I have come to terms with the jokes, listening to all of the oohs and awes or the “Boy you have your hands full” remarks.
But then there’s the other remarks. The ones like, “You were just born a mom, not me,” “I had a lot of kids and hated it, yours must be good kids, “I could never have so many kids, I am not the nurturing type like you,” or my favorite, “You were born with a patience I could never have. Better you than me having all those kids.” While these sound like compliments, they are all wrapped in defeat. The women who say these things look at me and assume something that isn’t true about me… or about them.
I am not the mom type. I never wanted any kids… none, not one. I am not patient by nature. And my children most certainly are not “good.” In fact if I based my mom experience on my children’s behavior, I would hate it too!
The truth is: being a mom is almost everything that goes against my nature. I don’t enjoy cooking, doing laundry, having mess after mess to pick up, constant noise, whining, crying, diaper changing. I don’t necessarily like the idea that my attention needs to be given to someone at any moment of my life… even at 3 in the morning. It all sounds a little like torture to my natural self (my flesh). My natural self really enjoys silence, quiet mornings, uninterrupted conversation, being alone. Things like finishing coffee while it’s warm, taking a shower without constant knocking on the door, a clean bathroom mirror. Things that don’t exist with so many children. My natural self looks at my life and wants to run away.
But I can’t run away. My feet won’t move backwards, even when all that surrounds me is crying for my flesh to just run. Why? Why can’t I just run? It’s not because the needed skills and feelings fell into the right place, or because I dreamed of this life as a little girl. No. My flesh wants to run and kick and cover my ears and scream “La la la la la!” I was not taught to stay when I feel pain, or stress or weakness. I used to run. Easily. If something wasn’t fun or took too much time, I ran. If I wasn’t good at it on the first try or I felt inadequate, I ran. If what was laid before me was going to take hard work and constant effort… you guessed it… I ran.
And now, everyday, that I live is filled with things that aren’t always fun, things that take a lot of time, effort and hard work. Everyday I am faced with the feelings of being inadequate and not naturally good at what I am doing. Yet my feet won’t run. No matter what is swirling in my head, my feet are firmly planted where I am, with gladness. With joy and peace even in all the imperfections within me and all the noise that surrounds me.
What has changed from years before?
I made a decision to endure.
I chose to walk the path, daily, that God has laid before me, instead of trying to re-route it so that my flesh can feel good.
Though my nature is to run, God’s nature is to endure.
As I choose to walk with Him, day by day my flesh gets weaker and weaker. I find that I am no longer a slave to my natural self, but am empowered by the supernatural that dwells within me. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. I am able to choose now who I will listen to. Me or Him. Feelings or eternity. Lies or truth.
I am able to see the choice in front of me: run away or endure.
The choice isn’t always easy in the moment, but the foundation is set. A foundation built upon the moment I made the choice to live day to day in walking in obedience the best I could. A foundation that is still being established day by day. And through many mistakes, many outbursts, and many unloving words the voice telling me to run is quieter than the voice telling me to endure.
Motherhood. Relationship. Life. All come beckoning with the question of will you run away or endure?
Running doesn’t necessarily mean leaving or quitting. It can mean mentally checking out, needing constant distraction, attention, fear, looking at what you don’t have instead of what He has given you. Running is anything that keeps you from fulfilling your call and walking with peace and gladness. Running away is not pursuing more because you are wanting life to be easy and to be naturally good at the things God has called you to.
But God is not a God who runs away when things aren’t easy. He endures for those who He loves.
We should do the same. Endure for those we love. Our husbands, our children, our family, our friends, our church, our neighbors. Our King. Our Lord. Our Savior. I have chosen to endure, not because I am better equipped or naturally gifted, but because I have been given more than what I could ever give. Victory and eternity. You have been given the same. Not because you are good at something, or your flesh loves the path He has given you in each moment. Your victory is not based on a bad day, a good day or any assumptions made upon you.
God has no assumptions about you from any snapshot, or circumstance, or outburst. He sees that you can do anything with Christ who strengthens you, if you would choose to endure. He sees that what your flesh feels as torture, your soul needs as fuel. Your heart desires endurance and to delight in His ways. To endure for the joy set before you (Hebrews 12:1). To endure to grow in character and have hope (Romans 5:3-4). To endure so you may receive what is promised (Hebrews 10:36).
We have been saved so that we can be empowered by God’s power. So that our natural self will hold no assumption over us. Even when we fail, even when we aren’t enjoying the moment, we can rest in the gladness and peace that is produced by our endurance. Things we will never know if we allow ourselves to keep running away.
No one can ever be naturally more patient than you, or naturally more joyful than you. No one can naturally have better character, or more hope than you. Only from His power are these received. Only from enduring for His will are these gifts given. Only from the choices you make.
It has taken me years to quiet the voices telling me to run away from the things I have been called to do. I am still learning in each day to trust and believe instead of run and not try. God is gentle and forgiving and isn’t bound to what I think should be, or how mature I wish I was. He never moves backwards, even if my natural self fights Him for a moment… or for a year. It doesn’t feel like much growth at times, but the joy of enduring is immeasurable. It used to hurt to choose obedience and endurance and I did things simply because I knew what was right, what His word told me. But now it is a delight for my flesh to suffer because I know the defeat that comes with running away. I know what my life would still look like if I never tried. I know that the life I enjoy and love, and find joy in, is not necessarily the one I would have chosen on my own. And I will praise God that He can open the eyes, restore the heart and refresh the soul of all who will endure.
Day by day feels small. But the choices we make, are the foundation we set. And the foundation we set is what our house will be built upon. May your house be built upon a rock. Choose today, instead of tomorrow, to endure and not run away from whatever God has waiting for you. He promises to give you strength and joy in the midst.
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” (Colossians 1:11)
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)