Not In Control

I’m one of those people that likes to make lists and schedules.  I like to feel like I have it all together.  In all honesty, I want others to think that as well.  I want them to think I’m great at juggling being a wife and mom.  I want them to believe that my house is always clean, and that I always have a delicious meal ready at supper time.  

You want to know the truth, though?  I have never felt so disorganized in my whole life as in these seven months since Miles was born.  There have days when my house has looked like a complete pig-sty and my only “accomplishment” for the day was getting my makeup on.  I can’t tell you how many nights Andy has come home from work to find dinner not even close to being ready, and me asking if we can just go out somewhere….again.  I’ve had to drop a lot of my outside commitments.  Hey, blogging, something that I truly love to do, has even fallen through the cracks.  The weird part, however, is that I’ve become surprisingly okay with all of that.

As I’ve written about before, Miles is no easy baby.  These days he’s mostly happy during the day, and I can breathe a little bit easier.  But he’s still not one to happily play in a bouncer seat or spend hours on his playmat.  Usually, me trying to tackle the pile of dishes in the sink consists of Miles sitting on the floor at my feet, with me giving him something new to play with every minute or so.  Even then, that might last 10 minutes and he’s bored.  He is thoroughly unpredictable.  I’m not even going to tell you how many times he was up last night.

Miles has challenged almost every pre-conceived notion I had about motherhood, babies, and parenting.  I found that a lot of my time and research during pregnancy went out the window within days of his birth (okay, hours).  And yet, through it all, I’ve felt that Still, Small, Voice consistently telling me to “let go, and let God”.  I have been learning to daily let go of my need for control, and instead surrend everything to the One Who is Able.  I’ve been laying down that image I have of what it means to be the “perfect” wife and mother, and instead letting Him mold me into the wife and mother He wants me to be.  Through it all, I have found the most amazing peace.  There is so much joy in not being in control…in not even thinking you need to be!

Recently, I heard another new mom described as “having it all together”.  Her baby was sleeping well at night and was on a good schedule.  She seemed to be effortlessly keeping up with all the demands of life.

For a minute, I felt a twinge of jealousy.  I wanted to be the mom that everyone described as “having it all together”.  I began plotting ways of “proving” how truly on top of things I was.  But then that Still, Small Voice tapped quietly on the door of my heart.  

“Remember,” It said, “that’s not who I’m calling you to be.  That’s not the kind of mom Miles needs, or the kind of wife Andy wants.  That’s not the woman I want you to be.”

I realized that in not being that mom,  I was taking the path that God was calling me, specifically, to.

We all have areas of our life that He is refining us in.  For me, it has been a slow, steady chipping away at my need for control.  I could never have dreamed that God would use one sweet baby boy to change me so much.  Yet, I know that every refining moment, no matter how difficult, is all a part of His plan.  It’s all a part of His process of shaping me into the woman of God He wants me to be.

Today my house is fairly tidy.  Dinner is cooking in the crock pot, and the floor doesn’t look like a muddy bear invaded.  But there are still dirty dishes in the sink.  There’s still laundry waiting to be folded, a checkbook that needs to be balanced, and a toilet that needs a good scrubbing.  I couldn’t imagine having free time to work outside of the home, or get busy on a sewing project.  I certainly don’t have everything together, and I’m far from in control of my daily life.  And that’s okay.     

Bridging the Divide

I’m sure you’ve all seen and experienced it.  That separation of churches (and within churches) of the generations.  On the one hand are the older folk, who’ve been in church forever.  Since they’ve been children, church has meant hymns and potlucks, choirs and Wednesday night services.  It’s the way it’s always been, and for the most part it works.

Then there’s the other group: the young people.  They prefer their music loud and their churches more edgy.  They question the basic “traditions” of the church, and the way things have “always been done”.  Instead of dresses and suits, they don their usual jeans and t-shirts to attend services on Sunday mornings.  In every way, they are so very different from the “older” crowd.  Because of this, we see many churches almost completely filled with one group or the other, but not both.  Those that mix the two seem to struggle with an almost constant tension over power and how things should be done. 

There’s nothing wrong with having a preference, or reaching out to one group of people or the other.  Yet sometimes I wonder if this segregation is really right.  Is this the way church is really supposed to be?

My husband and I are blessed to be a part of a multi-generational church.  The nursery is full, yet so is the senior choir on Tuesday mornings.  We sing both hymns and contemporary songs.  You’ll see some dressed in nice “church” dresses and some in holey jeans and messy buns.  Our pastor encourages this, and on more than one occasion has rebuked those that put their personal preferences above what God wants…a unified body of Christ.  I appreciate that and respect that more than you can know.

And yet, I still see the tension.  I see it on the strained faces of the seniors when the youth group leads worship with :gasp: a drum set.  I see it in the bored faces of the youth when we sing another hymn on Sunday morning. 

In some ways, it’s natural.  We all have preferences, and it’s easy to feel that our preferences are the right way when they are steeped in tradition.  More-and-more, though, I find myself questioning my own “preferences” and how they affect my view of the church.  I find that a lot of my own opinions are, at best, superficial and unfounded.  Many times, I wonder if I should not be learning about other’s preferences and embracing them just as I would my own. 

I’m not advocating subjectivism.  I firmly believe that truth is objective.  However, there are many things in the modern church that have nothing to do with truth, or what is right and wrong.  Take music worship, for example.  I know as well as anyone that this is an area of heated debate.  And yet, I cannot help but question that.  Some of people’s favorite hymns started out as drinking songs in bars, whereas I’ve seen contemporary worship songs literally bring people to their knees.  On the flip side, there are many contemporary songs that are unfounded in biblical truths, or flippant and best, whereas there are many hymns that speak the truth solidly.  What makes one style better than the other?  Does it not depend on the truth (or untruth) that they contain?  So why do we make it an area of contention, instead of joyfully embracing the good and true songs from every style? 

We waste a lot of energy and time on petty disputes which have no eternal significance.  Surely this must make God sad, to see His church divided so!  I know it makes me sad.

So what are we to do?  My dream is to one day see the body of Christ united across cultures, across generations, and across traditions.  I may not be able to do this all myself, or change how other people feel, think, or act.  However, I can do my own small part.  How many times do I, as a young wife, reach out to those older or younger than me?  How many times do I reach out to those from different cultures or backgrounds?  What about those in different economic classes?  The truth is, not often.  In my lack of doing anything, in my own lack of getting myself out of the “rut” of my preferences, I am only perpetuating the division that is so rampant and that so burdens my heart.

There are men and women working to change this.  I’ve seen them, and experienced their love across barriers…across preferences.  I see it every time our pastor preaches against holding fast to man-made traditions.  I see it every time the older women in the church spend countless hours and dollars to throw a wedding or baby shower for one of the younger women.  I see it every time Andy and I go to pay for our meal at a restaurant, only to find that one of the older couples (I say older, I mean middle-aged…just older than us) has already paid for us.  I see it every time a certain older woman in our church takes the time to rock babies in the nursery, even though her own have long been grown. 

I see it every time the youth joyfully serve lunch the the church.  I see it in how they faithfully thank those that have given time, money, and energy to help them go on a mission trip or to church camp.  I see it when our college students aren’t afraid to spend the day with older men and women.  I see it when the teenagers are quick to help at VBS.  I see it when my Andy serves on the finance committee, when every other member is almost twice his age (or more). 

You see, there is hope.  And yet, we have a long way to go. May it begin with me.