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2009-05-04

A Peek Inside My Heart--It's a REAL Job! Series #7

A Peek Inside My Heart
Image by @Maco

Today for the It's a REAL Job! Series I'd like to do something a little different. I'd like to invite you to step back in time with me to the point in my life when I was realizing for the first time a little bit of what it really meant to give my all to being a keeper of my home.

The following is a journal entry I made almost exactly a year ago. It's written as a prayer.
Dear Father,

So, You've been teaching me some new things recently. And I feel like I don't even know quite where to begin to synthesize it all. I feel like my eyes are being opened a little bit.

I'm seeing my life as it really is--or at least moreso than I have before. I'm seeing the pride, the sloppiness, the mediocrity, the laziness, the selfishness...and more. There's
more? Oh, yes. Unfortunately.

I feel as though I'm beginning to understand that life doesn't have to be this way. Indeed, perhaps it
shouldn't be. Perhaps I've been believing a lie--a lie perpetuated by modern day culture and the Father of Lies himself.

The lie: Striving for anything more than the status quo is trying to be "Superwoman".

And, of course, we all know that Superwoman isn't real. But. Why have we elevated character, consistency, follow-through, diligence, faithfulness, and just plain hard work to Superwoman status?

These are all qualities You have called us to--and You don't call us to an imaginary, unrealistic standard.

So, why is it that I've believed for so long that women who do things like rise early, keep an orderly home, are generally well-prepared for routine life, homeschool, love their husbands, seek to grow in the Lord, train and love their children either:

a) Don't truly exist
b) Are not really genuine--in other words, they lie about who they are, so...
c) Again, this woman doesn't really exist

I never said it in so many words to myself, but actions confirm belief more than words. And my actions have confirmed my belief that all I could truly expect in my life as a wife and mother was sloppy mediocrity. And doesn't our society encourage the image of the harried mother? Pulled in fifteen directions at once? Isn't a mother supposed to be under quite a lot of stress and, really, aren't we asking too much of ourselves as mothers--pushing ourselves too hard; stressing too much if we're trying to have an orderly home, for instance?

After all, it's the
people in our home who need attention most--not the toilets.

I'm not so sure.

All of a sudden, I'm seeing things in a new way. I see valuable truth mixed in with deception--but, after all--isn't that one of the enemy's most brilliant tools?

Yes! People are most important. Of course they are. But, in fact, I'm seeing now that I can do the people in my home--my husband and children--a great disservice by pretending to focus on them and not the "toilets". ("Toilets" being merely representative of all work that can feel like drudgery.)

First of all, I’m communicating to them that I don’t care enough about them to give them “clean toilets” (remembering that this represents far more than just the toilet).

Secondly, isn’t it better for everyone—but how much more so for little children—to be in an environment that is calm, peaceful, beautiful, and orderly (all things that can result—at least in part—from “clean toilets”)? Don’t I take care of the people in my home best by attending to their need for “clean toilets” as well as their need for, say, affection or mental stimulation?

Third, I’m modeling an attitude, value, or belief in all that I do. My children are learning from everything I do, say, think (because it shows up in my actions), or what I don’t do. Don’t I want to see my children become men of diligence, thoroughness, commitment, and faithfulness in the little things? Don’t I want them to know the value of hard work and to do it with a willing heart? Don’t I want them to stretch their limits and press for excellence in their lives instead of settling for mediocrity?

How in the world do I expect to see these things take hold in their hearts if from their earliest years they have learned, by watching my model, habits of half-way-ness, just-enough-ness, when-I-feel-like-it-ness, and good intentions but no follow-through-ness? I’m fooling myself if I think that what they experience in daily life and observe in me as they are little children has little effect on them. Indeed, the little habits they observe and experience now are soon incorporated into their own young lives and will not be easily culled out later. They won’t hit the magical mark of 25 and find themselves mysteriously transformed into men of excellence as I look on and remark with a contented sigh, “They’re just as I dreamed they would be—it’s all a mother could hope for!” How ridiculous!

I’m tempted to say that this early training in habit does not only have little effect, but that it is, in fact, nearly everything to the development of who they will be as men. This leans, perhaps, too heavily on man’s influence and I don’t want to forget that You, Father, are the utmost influence or ‘variable' if you will on a person’s life. For, certainly, You have raised up godly men of excellence who came out of some of the worst early experiences wherein they must have observed and learned poor habits. But, I daresay, that they are the exception rather than the rule.

Finally, coming back to the thought that the idea of “people over toilets” is a kind of deception, let me say that not only do I believe it to be a deception, but a distraction. Am I focusing so much on my pious “people over toilets” dogma that I don’t realize I’m not even caring for the people in the ways which I have sanctimoniously declared to actually matter (time and attention, for instance)?

Really, the purpose of my "people over toilets" dogma is to allow me to avoid things like hard work, unpleasant tasks, and so on. My focus is on what I don’t want to do with a veneer of “people caring”.

But since my focus is on the avoidance, the people are actually getting overlooked! I’m whiling away my hours (and hours are adding up to my life doing meaningless things. For instance, my face is glued to a computer screen (this is my biggest time waster) while my children are left. . .to themselves.

This is what deception is—it always looks good—attractive and noble even—on the surface. But underneath lies the ugly reality.

No more. No more! God! Help me. Help me to see clearly with the veil of deception lifted. To work heartily as unto You and to do my work with all my might—actually, with all Your power that so mightily works in me. Mediocrity is not what you have called me to. Excellence is.

10 comments:

Holly said...

What an awesome post! I totally agree with you. You give such good insight, thank you!

I also wanted you to know that you won my contest for the yankee candle tarts. If you could email me your mailing info, I will ship them out first thing tommorrow.

matthollycart@gmail.com

Erin said...

Amen! Well said, Brianna.

christinnjon said...

Brianna, I'm sooo glad you posted this!!!!!! This is my own heart's cry but you were able to organize it and write it down better!

I have had so many people, women, Christian and non-Christian alike tell me that I "put too much on myself" or ask "don't you ever take a break", etc. I am certainly far from perfect (though perfection isn't necessarily my goal) when it comes to fulfilling this awesome role. But I try and I try hard, and many people know with 4 children life is busy. They expect that because I have 4 children I should cut myself a lot of slack. In my mind, this is a round about way of saying that I can't handle my own, but I know that with God I can! Only God can give me the strength, wisdom, and tools I need to run my home and be a help meet to my husband and mother to my children.

I, too, have always felt squeemish about the "people over 'toilets'" but of course I've used it anyways, to make myself feel better and "cop out" of things.

First of all, my children can (and should) work alongside me on some things. That way we can get the best of both worlds. It cultivates relationships, training, and quality time (and cleaning) all into one!

You inspire me and I thank God for using you to pour into my life in ways like this. I am so encouraged and motivated to get my Monday moving! Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post and one I really needed to read this morning. Thank you!
Cheryl
cherylteddy@hotmail.com

Erin said...

rock on Brianna. the lies are WAY too easy to believe. i so struggle in this area - finding the balance between pushing myself TOO hard and not hard enough.....
and maybe this is just ONE of the reasons we are to 'pray without ceasing'?
:) Erin

Reborn said...

Wow, this is convicting! I got linked here through Christin at Journey to A Gracious Woman, btw. :)

Brianna @ Heart(h) Management said...

Thanks for all your comments, ladies! I do want to say that in no way am I advocating chasing perfection. Nope. Not at all. I'm advocating the pursuit of excellence.

Christin, I love what you had to say about getting your littles to work alongside you. I've realized that that is a great way to get things done while teaching them at the same time.

Truthfully, it's so much easier to do stuff by myself. It's faster and it's done to my liking. But ultimately, it's about so much more than that, isn't it?

Thanks again to all of you who read what I had to share today. It is indeed the heart the Lord is building in me.

christinnjon said...

"I do want to say that in no way am I advocating chasing perfection. Nope. Not at all. I'm advocating the pursuit of excellence."

Well said!

And I agree, it is easier to just do the work myself, too. I've had to fight with myself on it. :) But then I began to notice, my two year old son intentionally following me around to help. How can I refuse him?! He's too cute and the very fact that he desires to be around me melts my heart! Sure, it takes an extra 10 minutes to put clothes in the dryer by handing each piece to him as he puts it in (lol), or yes, I have to rearrange all the silverware in the drawer after emptying the dishwasher because my little toddler cannot see over the drawer to put them in the correct spot. Yep, they are literally just thrown into the drawer. But seeing how much satisfaction he gets out of helping mama makes it all worth it. :)

Talya said...

I love how you point out that our children are always learning from us - not only by what we say, but by what we do. I believe that we tend to think that if we are not doing the wrong things (as in, the obvious Christian wrongs, such as lying, cheating, stealing, etc,.), that we are doing a good enough job.

But when we do not pursue excellence in the things we've been entrusted with (our marriages, homes, children, and perhaps business and/or ministry), our children see that too. How can we expect our children to grow to be active, productive individuals if we ourselves are not modeling that for them? How can we expect them to have high expectations for their lives - especially their lives in Jesus - if we are not living that daily?

Although I have never considered this in the way that you wrote about it, the "superwoman" lie is all to prevalent, and mediocrity has become the norm.

Anonymous said...

I have been paralyzed by Satan's lie. Thank you for this truth. God has begun to open my eyes! May I be completely set free and anyone else that has been suppressed under this lie. Thanks be to God that Jesus came to set the captives free! Thank You God!!

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