Posts Tagged With: Kate Motaung

Friendship Without Fear: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Vicki’s Nature Flickr via Compfight cc

I think of all the women who say “I don’t really like other women.” I used to be one of these women, mostly because I’d been hurt and excluded. Among my male friends I found a place where I could be myself, without pretension. After my husband and I got married, having close male friends wasn’t really doable. So I often found myself lonely. I had a couple of good girl friends I made in college, but the downside of getting married young, is that it isolates you. Logistically, because I no longer lived on campus, but also socially too.

It never occurred to me until years later that it was those early female relationships that were flawed, not the concept of female relationships in general. I thought that since I couldn’t be the “right” kind of girl that other women wouldn’t accept me. Or at least that I would never have the kind of close relationships where I could really be myself. 

Lisa Jo Baker has a new book coming out (You preorder it here), that I’ve been lucky enough to preview. The following quote hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Because Satan would like nothing more than to see all of us women infected by our past hurts, the lies we’ve believed, and the grievances we bear. If it were up to him he would strap the corpses of our failed friendships and dead relationships to our backs and have us carry them into every conversation, every tender connection, and new interaction. Into every Bible study and book club, into every girls’ night out and kids’ birthday party. “

Yikes! I know many women for whom this is true, including myself. We may suffer from what Lisa Jo calls Friendship PTSD. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can extend ourselves without worrying what the final picture will look like. Risking vulnerability and pain, creating healthy boundaries and still finding intimacy.

I may not have a bosom friend like Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. But that doesn’t mean I’m doomed to walk the planet alone with only my husband (dear as he is) to make conversation with. I remember the old childhood saying “To have a friend, you must be a friend.” It sounds cliche but maybe not all wrong. If I could learn to let go of the fear, to be a friend even if I’m not sure that it’s going to work, applying the save level of sacrificial love that I’m trying to find for my family into my friendships as well, even the one’s too new to have necessarily earned it. Then maybe I will be surprised by what I find.

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Categories: Five Minute Friday, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Loving With Abandon, Serving Without Bitterness: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Calpastor Flickr via Compfight cc

Parenthood has a way of making things both clear and confusing at the same time. It quickly revealed to me my worst qualities, while also showing me how much I am really capable of. But as I approach my eighth year of parenting, I continue to find myself analyzing my reactions.

When the children are small (or in the case of my older two, not quite as small as they used to be) it is easy to feel like a victim. Maybe this isn’t your experience. But I have found myself struggling with bouncing between the extremes of selfishness and martyrdom. Yes, I have needs, and burning myself out (and feeling bitter about it) isn’t useful to my family. But at the same time, I am not entitled to my “me time” either.

Even the church can’t seem to make up its mind. After generations of telling women to sacrifice all for their families, now the pendulum swings the other way and we see women willing to abandon their families for a “higher” calling of ministry. (Let me be clear here, I am not criticizing women who work outside the home or are heavily involved in ministry. Those things aren’t good or bad. It is what we do with them, and the attitude in which we do it that the issue lies).

I find myself in the place again looking at how to love sacrificially. How can I learn to love them with abandon? What does this look like in my life? The only example I can look to is Christ is his time on earth. Why only him? Because he did take time for himself yet he was without the sin of selfishness. We see in the scriptures that sometimes he prioritized self-care for both himself and his disciples. But I doubt Jesus looked as his disciples and uttered the words “Ok, I’ve had enough of you. This is ‘my time.’ Get out of my face.” (Not that I’ve EVER said that, and I’m sure you haven’t either, right? wink wink).

So how did he do it? The Father was his source. He had a mission, and he constantly communed and touched base with the Father to keep him on course. This is something I can do as well. I can serve my children, my family, and my ministry obligations and still take care of myself. But I need to be continually listening for the still small voice so I can learn when to stand aside and when to press forward. Not because of my own selfish desires but because I have become attuned to the voice of the Father as Jesus was. Then I can love and serve without expecting anything in return and without worrying that the well will run dry. Because I am connected to the source and allowing myself to be continually replenished.

This will look different in each life. For me right now, it looks like pursuing silence, listening closely, deep breaths and constant attitude adjustment. May you find what it looks like for you, so you can love with abandon.

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Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday, Parenting | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

There is No Avoiding the Big Questions: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Onasill ~ Bill Badzo Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I thought that if I made different choices I could have saved myself from this. Then I started reading the work of women different from me. They had teaching ministries and high performing careers outside the home. Yet, they too were struggling with the big questions. Why am I here and how do I really love? I’ve been going through my own purpose of life debates. Wondering if some how the choices I’ve made are going to get in the way of me becoming who I’m meant to be, of not fulfilling or even coming close to my potential.

After years of being an overachiever, I married young, worked mostly meaningless jobs to pay the bills and then became a stay at home mom. I’m not one of those super woman stay at home moms either. My kids rarely do craft, when we do they are never Pinterest-worthy. I don’t bake with them often, because it usually ends in yelling and mess. Needless to say I won’t be winning any awards for most fun mommy. I thought that some how my choices would mean that God couldn’t use me, that I no longer had any “real” work to do for his Kingdom beyond wiping noses and bottoms.

But that was a lie, and it continues to be a lie that I face daily. Because yes, the things I do every day with and for my children are part of the work of the gospel. But also, everyone has these kinds of existential questions at some point. If I had taken on a high powered career, had children at a different time or not at all, I would still have come to this place. We all must face the questions of what were we born for and what are me meant to do.

Right now that means realizing that what I do is only part of who I am. I look at my 17 month old son. He offers no concrete work or objective function. (In fact he makes more work for me.). But he is adorable and winsome and makes my heart glad. Who he is, is enough. I’m coming to terms (again) with the fact that I am loved for who I am.

But I also know that I was created with work to do. I have this deep fear that some how I will miss that work. That on this long and winding road of life I will veer left when I should have gone right and end up off course, missing out on wherever God wants me to be. I often questions my choices and decisions (many of which are joint decisions which affect the separate but complementary callings of my husband and me, and our family). I haven’t figured it all out yet. It’s all part of my acceptance of the process and the journey, which goes against my personality that likes to check things off the list. But I’m also realizing the peace that comes with that acceptance. Knowing that I have a purpose, even if I don’t know exactly what it is or what it will look like in the future, has to be enough for now.

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Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Take It Slow: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Paul Saad Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve been attempting to find silence and solitude lately. If you don’t already know, I am also a mom of three young children. (Ok, don’t laugh at me yet). I’ve always been fascinated with many of the ancient spiritual practices that are rarely highlighted in the modern church. But I also live a life of noise and chaos, also known as motherhood. But I still believe it is possible for both to coexist; both silence and motherhood. My counselor recommended I begin thinking and praying about how I could work this into my life. I’ve gotten a little better at self-care.(Though I missed my weekly relaxing bath, and I find that I’m feeling the lack). But spiritual self-care is just as important.

There is nothing wrong with the prayers of desperation that are such a regular part of my day. But something in me wanted something more. I wanted to become more aware of the voice of God and more attuned to his presence in my daily life. I am consistently aware of my need for a Savior, but I wanted to reconnect with what it means to be Fathered and loved by the Almighty, just for being who I am. I can look at my 1 year old, and I love him just for being him from the moment he was born. Yet I have trouble believing God feels this way about me. So I am trying to find moments to rest and listen.

But how can I do that when my days are so full and so loud? By starting slow. When I am in the car without the kids, I turn the radio off and try to pray. I take deep breaths and meditate in the shower. When the baby is taking a nap and the big kids are watching TV downstairs, I try to take five minutes to sit quietly in my bedroom with my eyes closed and quiet myself. Choose to slow my soul and let the hurry fall away. I expect interruption and distraction. Then I’m not so surprised and angry about it. I just take a deep breath and begin again. (I am still very much working on this. The other day when both my big kids were pounding on the door I barely resisted the urge to yell “What could you possibly need right now? Can’t you understand I’m TRYING to TALK to GOD!”)

It has been very difficult for me to accept that life is process. I’m always trying to check off boxes and pursue goals hoping that eventually I’ll have arrived and I’ll be able to relax. But life is a constant progression of renovation and transformation. This unsettled nature of life goes against my natural state, my innate personality. I enjoy the destination more than the trip. So finding moments of silence and solitude is part of engaged and accepting the nature of the journey. Finding a place to pause along the road, whether it appears to produce results or not.

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Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Because I Am Weak, I Can Be Useful: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Sebastian Anthony Flickr via Compfight cc

I’ve always hated being weak. I spent most of my life as an overachiever. A lot was expected of me at a young age, and mostly appropriately so. I was encouraged in my areas of talent and ability. But it was also a lot to live up to. There is such a fine line between encouraging a child and expecting the best from him or her, and pushing them into overachiever status. I often felt like I needed to be the best, or I would lose the confidence and love of those around me. I liked being depended on by teachers, parents and church leaders. I didn’t want to disappoint. While I was continually reminded about the unconditional love of my heavenly Father, I found myself carrying over this attitude of overachievment into that part of my life as well. Of course God loved me no matter what, but just in case, I needed to make sure I was giving it my full effort; checking off all the boxes.

But of course I was only human and I couldn’t do everything, I was far from perfect. I had a very hard time taking criticism, not because I didn’t want to improve, but because in that criticism I heard my unspoken fear: you aren’t good enough, and if you don’t “fix” your issues you will become useless and unlovable. Now, those things were never overtly stated, and rarely true. But I heard them anyway.

I like to think that I have improved in this area, and in some ways I have.but it still takes continual effort to have a teachable, correctable spirit. My need to impress has kept me from taking risks because I might do it wrong and someone might notice and tell me so. Since having children, it is easy to question myself constantly. It doesn’t help that our social media culture fosters an environment where each person’s choices become public discussion fodder. Gossip has always existed, but the difference between the village rumors and the internet is that now one mom’s apparent failing becomes a public opinion discussion but without the important relationship of community closeness. When the sweet older lady who helps you wrangle your children gives you advice it’s a lot easier to take than when a stranger half way across the world criticizes you on social media. Because correction should always, whenever possible, come from a place of love and relationship.

This past year I have been learning the hard way that God can use us because of our weakness rather than in spite of it. I took on some major responsibilities last year, ones I had been praying about for a while. Then within weeks, life got very crazy. Suddenly being my usual overachieving self was no longer an option. Instead of just delegating, I was forced to really depend on those around me. It was a position of feeling out of control. This was not how I liked to function. I had been raised to be dutiful and responsible. Without meaning to, my personal mantra had become “do it well or don’t do it at all.” (Not quite the same as perfectionism, for which I am not usually plagued, but close enough to get in the way). So as I saw myself handling my public responsibilities at less than full capacity, I felt like a failure.

I vividly remember a conversation I had with God where I mentally uttered the phrase. “This is not how I wanted to do things.” My spirit was quietly reminded of verse from 2 Corinthians. (Which of course I couldn’t remember verbatim which I why I am very grateful for the internet in helping me locate the full versions of verses of which I recall only a small portion.)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

I realized that my weakness was not a barrier to God. If anything, he was forcing me to depend on him. When you are firing on all cylinders it is easy to give in to pride. After all, confidence in your own abilities isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when God uses me, not just despite my frailties but because of them, the credit is his alone. When the children God has given me cause me to come to the end of myself both in public and in private make me accessible and relatable to other moms, his power is being made perfect in my weakness. When we begrudgingly made peace with the idea of renting our house instead of selling it, and now we get random texts from our new tenants telling us how grateful and blessed they feel to be living in our house, his power is being made perfect in my weakness. When I realize that parenting is as much about who I am supposed to become as helping my children become who they are supposed to be, (especially when I have doubts about what either of those things will look like), his power is made perfect in my weakness.

As we look back at our lives, may we be able to say that God, in his mercy, used our weakest places and our deepest failures to do some of his greatest work.

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Categories: Faith, Five Minute Friday, Parenting, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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