How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! (Psalm 133:1)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
I love reading. I LOVE READING! I am currently “building” my own nightstand as I stack book upon book beside my bed. Some I’ve read before, some I have only started. Fiction. Non-fiction. Inspirational. Biography. JAN KARON! Motherhood. Marriage. Brokenness.
My most recent library read is a book written by a homeschool mom titled Teaching from Rest. It is wonderful…timely (as God blesses most of my reads to be)…and ironic. I am not currently homeschooling my school-age children. There’s a journey there, but the gist of it is this: my husband is leading our family with me wholeheartedly cheering him on and he has made this decision with the wisdom and discernment he has prayed for. He knows I am ready and willing to bring our little people home in a split second because I miss them and I miss what we all get to learn together, but whatever my feelings, the one that trumps it all is my feeling of excitement over him seeking God and leading as he is lead. (AND as one of my dear friends put it to me this weekend, I “homeschool” during second and third shift. It can get crazy around here with all the homework flyin’ around. Talk about the opportunities to disciple and teach life lessons! And I do still have one Little Miss with me during the day and a Little Mister hanging out with us too.)
Now, why did I feel the need to add that parenthetical bit? That is what this post is all about.
I can logically say that I have no problem with books specifying their audience. If you are a bird watcher and you are writing a book for fellow bird watchers, by all means include “For Bird Watchers” in your title! Gardner, chef, pilates instructor, carpenter, and please oh please if you are a web designer or a code writer put that clear as day on the front cover so that I don’t accidentally pick that one up! In other words, I get it! You do it, you seek out your community, you write about it, you get mutually encouraged. I am also curious enough to pick up some books written for audiences that don’t include me because, hey, we can all keep on learning, and I’m not offended when they speak to their specific audience as long as they don’t belittle the rest of mankind who might be reading. Ahem.
That said, I have recently become aware of a lack of material out there that makes every mom, woman, man, father, family, CHRISTIAN, NON-CHRISTIAN feel like and know they are doing a good job. And I’m here to say I don’t believe this is the intent AT ALL of authors who are publishing amazing words! I’d honestly say nine out of ten are coming from the angle of the previous paragraph; there may be one out of ten really trying to sock it to us. Nevertheless, I had to hold my friend in my arms a couple of times last week and lock eyes with her just so I could speak this truth into her heart: “You are not a bad mom because you work outside the home!” (If I had to be honest, I’ve had to lock eyes with myself in the mirror this whole school year and say, “You are not a bad, ungodly mom because you aren’t homeschooling your children!”) And if you are a homeschool mom right now, I’d tell you that you aren’t ruining your children or crippling them and tomorrow is another day and it’s all a learning! BUT, you know what else? I’d say absolutely everyone of those things to any parent!
We can all feel bad, ungodly or not godly enough, like we’re ruining or crippling those we love; yes brothers and sisters, we are all very familiar with what FAILURE feels like. Or more accurately what we think is failure. Some of us are just good at yoking our own selves and the rest of the world – secular and Christian – is pretty good at burdening what’s left of us. Like I said, I really don’t think most people mean to do it; I just think we don’t always slow down enough to recognize what we’re doing. (And we’d all do good to realize that, so we don’t just forego all good advice and accountability and end up in a heap of bitterness.)
I remember one of my friends several years ago after her first child, and after she had returned to work, venting a bit that every mom book she picked up was always promoting staying home while shedding a negative light on those moms who worked. Another one of my friends fell into some depression because while she did take a year off of work after her second child, trying to do what all good Christian mommies do, she just didn’t feel it was for her. I can understand. When a large portion of the Christian community tells moms they are meant to stay home with their babies and then they find it’s not what they are pulled toward…
On the other hand, both Christian and secular voices can make a woman who started college only to get her Associates degree and then stay home to raise her babies, feel like she’s less than. I mean, all she’s good for is housework and watching other people’s children while they go to their degree-required job and working in the children’s ministry at the church, right? And when the fruit of her labors can’t be measured by a paycheck or a promotion or children who always behave or even a made up bed for goodness sakes, what then?
And husbands and dads and single men and women, you know you’re not off the hook! Husbands and dads, are you “spiritual enough” to lead that early morning-Bible-reading wife who has the children memorizing scripture and reading great literature and having regular prayer times and ladies’ Bible studies while you are working hard all day and all you want to do is come home on Monday nights and watch a football game with your family? I mean, who can compete with someone who leads their families in daily Bible readings or someone who is taking their family to be the light in a land far away or someone who never raises their voice at their children and always knows how to love on their wife just right all the while mentoring other men weekly? Oh, and all of these things are probably dreams your wife has always had and has been hoping and praying God would help you to have…SOON! Singles, if you’re not giving it all up and heading to a third world country or leading a singles ministry and writing books about godly disciplines, GET MARRIED! Really, I mean, what else is there?
Isn’t this fun? Encouraging? Don’t you feel lighter? Less burdened?
NO?! Me either!
So, tomorrow – hopefully – we’ll break every yoke-bearing word and rise up as heavy burdens fall to the ground. And I’ll get back to the whole point of this post* or, now, series of posts.**
*Now, why did I feel the need to add that parenthetical bit? That is what this post is all about.
**I had planned this to be one post, but it’s turning into a longer read. So, more soon…