The Church: “Me Too” Moments

by Elizabeth

I always feel so discouraged about motherhood on Sundays. Sundays completely wear me out, taking care of my youngest children’s needs. I feel so out of my league. I think about all the mom blogs out there and wonder how these women have all this energy just to spend on their kids’ intellectual and spiritual development? I’ve got sin issues of my own that need working out; how can I give 110% to each kid???

Once I confessed this to another mom, who surprised me by confessing the same thing back. I felt so relieved. (And so did she.) I told her that every Sunday I think I’m not cut out to be a mom, and she told me, “Every day I think I’m not cut out to be a mom.” So we lamented together, and we laughed together, and I was so relieved to know I’m not the only one who thinks she’s failing in this motherhood venture.

One Sunday I was feeling particularly discouraged about motherhood.  My husband was praying with and ministering to teenagers. This is something I love doing with him, and I miss it. (For our family’s sake, I stepped back from youth ministry when I became pregnant with our third child.) So instead of participating in shiny, glittery youth ministry, I was responsible for the mundane task of picking up my kids from their Bible classes — and proceeding to keep an eye on them afterwards. That morning in particular, I had an intense feeling of missing out on the good stuff.

I sat there, all alone and lonely, when another woman came up to me and started a conversation. Suddenly I didn’t feel so lonely. As we talked and shared about life, I discovered that she, like me, needed some encouragement. That she, like me, dislikes conflict. I felt so relieved. I’m not the only one!? I had been feeling so useless. And I thanked God for His kindness: He sent me one of His own to encourage me. He didn’t have to, but He did. And neither did He let me walk out of church that morning feeling as utterly useless as I had begun.

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One day I was surprised to hear a Christian I really respect talk about the struggle to find time for God in the chaos of overcommitment. I literally breathed a sigh of relief. I’m not the only one!! When I accept too many social or ministry commitments, I struggle to find time to spend with God. And it’s hard for me to say “no.” I felt less like a failure knowing that someone I love and respect also struggles with setting boundaries with their time. I felt less like a failure knowing I’m not the only one whose overcommitments interrupt their tight connection with God.

I tend to look at Christians I respect and think they don’t have struggles anymore. I tend to white wash their humanity, to view them through a lens so hazy I can’t see any flaws, to assume that one day, they just “arrived” and must surely be consistent in fighting against sin and in consecrating their time to God. But I’m always relieved when I learn I’m not alone in whatever struggles I happen to be facing.

Community with other believers is where we learn we’re not alone. It’s where we collect our precious “Me too” moments. Ah the joy and relief of a “Me too” moment! Nothing compares. These “Me too” moments are the ties that bind. They are the mutual woes, the mutual burdens we bear. We share our fears, our hopes, our aims, our comforts, and our cares.* It’s what I love about the Church: endless opportunities for “Me too” moments.

*From John Fawcett’s hymn “Blest Be the Ties That Bind”

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“Not far away from us, there is someone who is afraid and needs our courage; someone who is lonely and needs our presence. There is someone hurt needing our healing; unloved, needing our touching; old, needing to feel that we care; weak, needing the support of our shared weakness.

One of the most healing words I ever spoke as a confessor was to an old priest with a drinking problem. ‘Just a few years ago,’ I said, ‘I was a hopeless alcoholic in the gutter in Fort Lauderdale.’ ‘You?’ he cried. ‘O thank God!’ When we bring a smile to the face of someone in pain, we have brought Christ to him.”

Brennan Manning

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Other posts in The Church series:

Hungry for Community

On Not Being the Casserole Lady

Dear American Church

I am a Worshipper

Authenticity is Not New

Jesus Loves Me, This I Sometimes Know {Velvet Ashes}

This article by Elizabeth was originally published at Velvet Ashes, and is reprinted here in full, with permission.

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I used to think trusting God meant trusting Him for the circumstances of my life. I used to think it meant trusting God for my future. But this past year God has completely overhauled my understanding of Trust.

I’m married to a man who has all the gifts. Seriously. You name it, he’s got it. And as he and his gifts have grown more public these past few years, I began to believe nobody valued my gifts or even noticed them. Nobody saw me, I told myself; they only saw him. I convinced myself the world didn’t want anything I had to offer; they only wanted what he had to offer.

I felt myself disappearing, fading into nothingness. Very soon, I told myself, I would be invisible. Am I important? Do I matter? Does anybody see me, truly see me? In agony I flung these questions into the cosmos, only to have them answered time and again with a resounding NO. No, you’re not seen; no, you don’t matter; no, you’re not important.

I was certain the problem was my marriage. If only I weren’t married to such a massively talented man, I wouldn’t feel this way. If only he would stop shining, I would feel better about myself. I accused him of erasing me and told him I wanted to die. We kept repeating the same irrational conversations.

Then one Sunday last fall I awoke with the sudden realization that the bitterness I held toward my husband was actually directed at God. None of this was my husband’s fault — it was God’s. He was the One who hadn’t given me the desirable gifts. He was the One who was withholding from me. This was no longer about my marriage: it was about my trust in God’s goodness.

Why does the Giver of gifts seem to pick favorites? Why are some people more highly favored? If God loves us all equally, why are His blessings so unequal? Since (by my reckoning) God hadn’t given me the good gifts, I concluded that He must not love me.

That sounds ridiculous, I know. Learning that Jesus loves us is one of the first things we do in Sunday school. When we belt out Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, we’re supposed to believe it. Except here I was, and I didn’t believe it.

I prayed a half-hearted prayer: God, please, meet me at church today. I’m not even sure I meant it. Then at church the speaker began talking about how God doesn’t pick favorites. From my seat I remember hearing, “He doesn’t like Ernie more than Ann.” I looked up in astonishment and told God, I think You just answered my prayer.

God had spoken to my mind that morning, but my heart still had its doubts. My solution was to try grunting my way into belief. I thought if I just.tried.hard.enough, I could force myself to believe God’s love for me. But head knowledge has a hard time filtering down into heart knowledge, and I was groping in the dark.

A few months later I found myself in a counseling office to debrief my first few years overseas. Conversation soon came to a standstill. I was stuck. The counselor wisely handed me some colored pencils and asked me to draw. I’m an abysmal artist, but I did as she asked: I drew a purple mountain’s majesty, a part of Creation that draws me closer to God.

The counselor asked me what that mountain might say to me. The first words that came to me were “Just Sit.” Then she asked what else that mountain might say to me, and the word “Believe” immediately flooded my soul.

“Believe what?” she asked.

Through tears, I croaked, “Believe that God loves me as much as He loves my husband.”

And with that one word from God, months of striving to grasp His unconditional, all-surpassing, non-partisan Love evaporated. God used a poor colored-pencil sketch to short-circuit my rational brain and reach inside my heart. It was a breakthrough of belief that took me deeper into the love of God than I ever dreamed I’d go.

Shortly after my time with the counselor, I encountered I John 4:16 in the New International Version: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” I stopped cold. For me, knowing God’s love came first, and relying on it came afterwards. How could this verse so perfectly sum up my experience of God’s love when it had been written some 1,900 years earlier??

I loved this verse so much I looked it up in other versions. The English Standard Version reads, “And so we have come to know and to believe the love God has for us.” When I looked it up in the Greek, I discovered that “know” implies a personal experience, and “believe” means to trust. I John 4:16 is most definitely my story. First I had a personal experience of God’s love, and now I find I can trust it.

My Brute Force Method had failed. Trying to trust had failed. It was only when I let go and stopped striving that I could actually trust His love for me. So maybe trust is more of a release than a grip. Maybe it’s more of an invitation than an instruction. Maybe radical Trust in God isn’t about my circumstances, but about His love.

Psalm 13:5 declares, “I trust in Your unfailing love.” Trust in His unfailing love is life to me now. I no longer believe the lies that tell me my husband is more valuable than I am. I know I’m loved, and I no longer need to slice through my husband’s heart with my perfectly-practiced, precision-cut lies.The most broken part of our marriage has been made whole. I never thought I’d be able to proclaim that.

I am daily living Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:17-19. I’m experiencing the love of Christ, and He is filling my life with His love. I’m trusting in Him, and He’s making His home in my heart. I feel my roots growing down deep into God’s love, and I trust its width, length, height, and depth like never before.

This is the cry of my heart for you today. I pray along with Paul, that “Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

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Further resources that helped me know and rely on the love God has for me:

The life and ministry of Rich Mullins, especially his song “The Love of God

Anything by Brennan Manning, especially “Reflections for Ragamuffins

Beth Moore’s Beloved Disciple Bible Study or book

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What is the thing in your life that makes you doubt that God loves and values you as much as He loves other people??

What is God inviting you to trust Him for?