Tuesday, October 7, 2008

measures of success

Amid the craziness of adjusting to our new school year and it's MANY changes, I've also been embroiled in an internal battle. I've been feeling very much like I'm failing in many (most/all) areas of my life from mothering to church leadership. I've had very dear friends remind me that my perspective on some things is probably - well, shall we say slightly skewed - and while that rational side of my brain knew they were right, my emotions were screaming "Don't listen to them. You're a loser and you know it!" However...my God is bigger than my emotions (thankfully) and He is also undaunted by my pouring said emotions out to Him. He's been breaking through to my heart, showing me that part of the problem is my standard to which I'm using to measure my 'success'.

It's so easy for us to hold ourselves up to other people - especially as moms - and decide how we are doing based on how it appears others are doing. (And generally, we don't have a true picture of what their reality is to begin with!) I look at other church plants, I look at other families, I look at educational standards and then I hold myself up to those rulers and find myself incredibly lacking. And usually it takes a little while before I realize the problem might not necessarily be my performance (and believe me, I'm not saying I don't need to make changes!!) so much as the fact that I'm using the wrong system of measures.

One thing the kids are learning in science is that there are standard units of measurement. Length is measured in meters; volume in liters; mass in grams. It's a standard that is fixed. I'm finding that when I hold myself up to standards of my own choosing, I will fall short every single time. What I need to do is find the fixed standard - God's word and his plan for my life.

A few days ago as I was fretting (read 'obsessively worrying') over trying to get my kids all prepared for the 'standardized testing' for this year, I was really beginning to wonder (yet again - you'd think I'd be past this by now!!) why it is I homeschool. I started playing all the old 'tapes' in my head about how I'm probably ruining my kids, not giving them the best education, turning them into sub-par human beings, etc. when God spoke directly to my heart. He reminded me gently, but firmly, that he is crafting them. He has a very unique and special purpose for them, and he is using me to bring that about in their lives, but I am simply a tool. I really have no right to question his work in their life; my place is to be a faithful and willing vessel to see them grow into their appointed destinies. He is the Master Craftsman. And the reason I homeschool my kids, at least for now, is quite simply because that's what I feel God wants me to do with and for them. I have no idea if they will go to college or pursue a trade. I don't know if they'll be in missions or the military (an interesting discussion point that recently came up with Todd & I, with him coming from a pacifist background - but that's an entirely different post). My point is, I believe God has a plan, and I need to seek Him as to what it is, and adjust MY expectations accordingly.

The same is true for our church plant. So many things are not turning out the ways that I would have pictured. And so I've been taking that and looking at it as a failure. But as I've talked - and listened - to different people involved with our little church, I've realized that there has been growth, and there is life, and while it may not look like what I envisioned, it just might actually be right on track with where God is taking us. Have we made mistakes along the way? Sure!! (Or in Palin-ese - "You betcha!") But is God using every one of those to grow us in some way? I'm sure of it. I can't say it's always felt good - or even that it feels good now - but growth seldom does. But I'd take long-term growth over short-term comfort - well, most of the time. :)

So, while I feel like I've been under a gray clouded sky, I'm feeling good about reporting that the Son is breaking through.
...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philipians 1:6


Christelle Joy said...

love you jess : )

Laura said...

good stuff.

Bets said...

I love when the reality of God finally breaks through my (or your) own reality. I love you and am continuing to pray for you.