Ten—even five years ago I was the young wife and mom reading all the books and Bible verses on Christian parenting, keeping house, and being the most excellent wife I could be. I’m what you might call a rule-follower; a do-gooder; the “good girl”.
Yet in my 19th year of marriage and 17th year of being a mom, I find myself more desperate for Jesus than ever. While reading books, Scripture and striving to walk in wisdom has equipped me tremendously in my roles, they have not (and could not) save me from the trials that have ensued.
Being a Christian Doesn’t Automatically Erase Your Troubles
Don’t misunderstand, striving to be the best mom and wife and person you can be is not bad—in fact, it is commendable. But doing so won’t solve all your problems or protect you from hardship, heartache, temptation or even sin. Instead it offers us a life that pleases God and helps prevent dire consequences by our own hands. It minimizes the amount of troubles and negative consequences brought on by our own hand. But it doesn’t eliminate them.
A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.
~Proverbs 14:1 (NLT)
I wholeheartedly believe in serving our families and loving them well because that’s what God calls us to do. But what happens when this looks different then we imagined? In fact, what if our very ideas of what loving our family looks like are a far cry from reality? What if loving someone isn’t supposed to be done on our terms?
Living a holy life is very different from living a tidy life. Life is bound to throw us some curve balls. These are the moments that refine us…like gold in the fire, God is removing the dross so that we can shine. But that can’t be done without going through the fire, first.
Love is Messy Because People are Messy
Loving people can get messy. Because love is not self-seeking. And people are messy. We just are. We all bring a different story, experience, and even genetics to the mix that make us who we are. But that isn’t the end of the story. God continues to mold and refine us when we let Him. And He works on us all at different paces.
Maybe you’re dealing with depression or have a loved one who is depressed. Maybe you find yourself in a destructive relationship. Maybe you have adopted children who are super challenging. Maybe you are living with a chronic illness (or with a loved one who has chronic illness or injury). I mean really, the list is endless with ailments lovers of Jesus can go through.
Christianity is Not a Cure for Trials
Being a Christian does not exempt us from such trials. And being a Christian, we ought to have compassion on one another and encourage each other daily. We are supposed to help the body of Christ—our own brothers and sisters in the Lord—when they stumble or are in need. We should not be pushing or turning people away when they come to us for help.
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.
~1 Peter 4:12
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
~1 Thessalonians 5:11
My encouragement to you today friends is this:
If you think your life is a mess, it’s not tidy, it doesn’t look like the “ideal Christian life”, take heart. There is no ideal Christian life. Yes, we can (and should) put our best foot forward. But we shouldn’t hide behind this mask of the ideal Christian when life is not ideal. The only ideal is loving and following Christ with your whole heart. Our circumstances do not define us or how well we love or serve God. But how we respond to those circumstances is what speaks the love of Christ, not only to the world, but to those around us.
And when we do make mistakes, are we owning our mistakes…our sin, and doing what’s necessary to make it right? Are we forgiving those who have hurt us or sinned against us, even in the deepest, most hurtful ways? These are the messes I’m referring to. Forgiving may not mean reconciling, but forgiveness releases us from a prison of our own making.
What I’m Not Saying
I’m not talking about the kind of messes we’re in because we’re lazy Christians, doing whatever we desire and are not striving to love Christ with all we are. I’m talking about the messes that come even WHILE we’re loving Christ with all that we are. Even when we stumble because we deceived ourselves but have come to repentance. We all fall into sin…some with greater natural consequences than others. Some (like addictions) with ongoing consequences.
There is no one way a Christian is supposed to look or “appear”. Are we to be set apart? Absolutely!
We are supposed to look different than the world, not superior to it.
We’re called to have compassion on people and love even our enemies. That’s what sets us apart. We’re supposed to avoid evil, but we don’t always do that. So when we find ourselves ensnared, we need to do what needs to be done to get out. And then work through those consequences—-which can be messy.
This is true if we are on the receiving end of the one who’s doing the hurting. It’s messy. It’s gritty. It’s raw. But it’s real.
I won’t pretend to have all the answers and you don’t have to either.
We’re commanded to love God with everything we are.
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.'
And we’re commanded to love others as we love ourselves.
The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."
God never said it would be easy, tidy, neat or exclusive. He simply commanded we love.
For His Glory,