I recently started attending Bible Study Fellowship, and our teaching leader is so wonderful that I’m sure I’ll be sharing many tidbits from her lectures. Last week, she said that all of us have craziness in our lives–I’m sure at this very moment, at least ten things have come to mind that you are dealing with in your own life. That’s what I started thinking about when she said it, going down the familiar path of self-pity, discouragement and mental exhaustion from worry. But the next thing she said grabbed my attention: “We can choose to deal with life’s craziness biblically or non-biblically.” Such a simple idea, and so obvious, and yet it has completely changed the way that I look at things. There are only two options, two black-and-white categories in which I can place the way I react to my kids, my husband, difficult circumstances and mundane responsibilities. One question to ask: Am I responding biblically or non-biblically?
So I sat down and thought about the three primary areas of my life that cause my emotional and spiritual struggles and then outlined my non-biblical responses and what some biblical responses would be. The first task was easy–I struggle with impatience with my kids, frustration with my husband, and feeling a lack of significance as a stay-at-home mom.
Kids: I tend to respond non-biblically by avoidance (“Just go play in your rooms for awhile, please!”) or in anger. Biblical responses would include responding in love (I Corinthians 13), displaying the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), being thankful for the time I have with them, and covering all of my parenting with a heavy dose of prayer (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Husband: I usually respond non-biblically because I am focused on myself and my needs. I am only seeing things from my perspective (I am tired and had a long day, and he better swoop in with a smile and unending energy and rescue me), and I end up being demanding and angry as a result. Instead, I should remember that I am called to love him sacrificially, just as God has loved me (Ephesians 5:1-2). I need to remember the stress he’s under and do what I can to support and encourage him (I Thessalonians 5:11). I need to view marriage as a tool for God to teach me and for God’s glory, not as a way to get my needs met. (More on that later from a great book I’m reading, Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.)
Burnout: I struggle as a stay-at-home mom because I am focused on my need to feel good about myself, and I am desperate for a way to earn the praise of others. (Doing laundry and raising kids isn’t working out too well in that regard.) I want my life to be easy, fun and comfortable, or at least be significant in the eyes of the world. A biblical response would be to understand that I’m working for God’s glory and His eternal purposes by investing my time in my husband and children (Colossians 3:23-24). I must remember that God is faithful to sustain me through the work He has called me to do (2 Corinthians 12:9). I must resist laziness and ask God to show me how He wants me to spend free time–it probably isn’t those continuous Law and Order reruns I’m so addicted to on cable (Proverbs 31–especially verses 15 and 27).
I wonder what it would look like to put all my thoughts and actions through a biblical/non-biblical filter. My response to my kid’s tantrum–biblical or non-biblical? My judgment of someone I encounter during the day that annoys me–biblical or non-biblical? My shopping habits–biblical or non-biblical? (Ouch.) My response when my husband wants his back scratched at 10:00 pm–biblical or non-biblical? If I could permanently attach this filter to my brain, my husband would probably have more money and more frequent back-scratching. 🙂
One side-note: Thank you to Rachel for the comment on the post below. I really appreciated the use of the word “temptation” to describe your struggle with discouragement. I so often forget that when I am feeling discouraged because I am believing lies rather than the truth, it is sin. I’m not supposed to tolerate it or continue in it, but rather identify it as sin, confess it, and turn from the temptation to give in to those sinful emotions.