I couldn’t fall asleep the other night. Shortly before going to bed, I read and shared a status update from one of my favorite Christian artists, Chris Tomlin: Life is so much better when you focus on being a blessing instead of being blessed.
Wow. That was certainly meant for me to see as I constantly need to be reminded to check my attitude, hold my wildly untamed tongue, and stop comparing my bank account to so-and-so’s.
I couldn’t sleep because I was so inspired and moved by this message—I was thinking of all the ways, and all the people, I strive to be a blessing to: God, my kids, my husband, my extended family, my friends, my blog readers, and myself. When you read that list at face value, it may sound exhausting and exactly why so many people, namely women, are run ragged trying to please everyone. But being a blessing isn’t the same as pleasing. In fact, being a blessing can be in-your-face uncomfortable. And I’m not even talking about strangers or sharing the Good News with a non-believer. The hardest people to be a blessing to can be our spouse, children, and selves. Those people who can be the easiest to take for granted.
I don’t care if you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, the 6 o’clock hour is chaos when you have kids. Everyone is exhausted, tempers are short, and I’m almost certain Sin has pulled a fifth chair up to my dinner table just waiting to pounce on whichever one of us shows the least amount of patience. Constantly trying to be a source of light, but knowing deep down I’m just as broken as everyone else, it feels God isn’t listening to my desperate prayers for patience and gratitude. And man is it awkward to call my son or husband out on behaviors that directly reflect the exact same issues I grapple with everyday. Disciplining my kids, instilling a love for Jesus, navigating the scary waters of raising a child in 2014, etc.—it’s rough! Although sometimes I need to remind myself (especially after I’m called a “mean mommy” by my 4 year-old) I ultimately know I’m blessing them with the tools and structure they need to one day be responsible, productive members of society who (hopefully!) discipline their own kids and share their love for Jesus.
I’m reading a really inspiring book by Courtney Joseph called, “Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home.” She draws so many convicting parallels to how our world has made every household chore and errand so convenient compared to our ancestors (no hunting and gathering here!), and yet we have less time than ever before because the Internet is a huge time-suck. Now that’s coming from a fellow blogger, so know that’s not a judgement on the rest of us, but purely a factual reflection of life in 2014. I’ve realized recently that I’m at my least patient with my kids when I’m trying to do something on my phone or computer. It’s much different when I say, “I’m reading my Bible right now, do you want me to read it out loud to you?” than “I need to share my healthy breakfast recipe on Instagram!” Don’t frustrations always seem to mount the most when an obstacle prevents us from our own selfish interests?
As if it’s not hard enough to strengthen our relationships with Christ, our spouse, and children, we need to be a blessing to our own selves too. If we all gave ourselves grace and treated our mind and bodies the way God intended, I’d probably have no need for this blog. Everyone would eat healthy, exercise, have positive relationships, and a strong prayer life. We would all have a kind, motivational inner-dialogue instead of the negative, self-deprecating one so many of us have (“I’m the worst mother ever,” “I can’t do anything right,” “screw you scale.”) Where did we learn this behavior anyway? One of the major problems is 24 hours a day doesn’t seem to be enough and our attention and energy is always spent elsewhere, trying to please others. But again, being pleasing isn’t the same as being a blessing.