It amazes me that [although] my husband is such a caring and compassionate man, many times he doesn’t understand me at all. The things that concern me or cause me great emotional distress don’t make him even bat an eye. And sometimes I feel like he must roll his eyes over the issues I bring to his attention that have caused me upset, yet he didn’t even realize were a big deal. We are very different.
A lot of the time when I get home from work after a long day my children don’t even seem to notice. I get up before the sun, and way before the rest of the family even begins to stir. I do what I do, in a large part, to provide for those kids, but I don’t think they even realize it. They don’t understand how tired I am, or how far a hug goes to make me feel appreciated. So when they stay in their room without even a “hey, mom,” I notice.
I have always felt blessed that my spouse finds me attractive. He takes the time to tell me I’m beautiful, and that goes a long way. But let’s be honest. On the days when my hair is frazzled, my belly is extra poochie, and the wrinkles are more than I’m prepared to see when I look in the mirror, I don’t feel beautiful, even in his eyes. He doesn’t make me feel pretty enough to combat my own bad days.
Many times I feel like I’m being used, or like I’m just a big snack machine. My children will ask me for a glass of milk, even if my husband is sitting right there. He acts like he doesn’t hear them. They want to play with my phone, have me make them a snack, take them somewhere fun, or buy them a toy. Yeah, I’ll admit that I enjoy doing things for them, and becoming a mother is one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done in my life. But some days I want to walk out the door and not come back. Have you ever felt that way? Would they even miss me?
I grew up always wanting to be loved more. My parents loved me tons, but in my little heart, I suppose it was never enough. I couldn’t ever figure out why. Why did I long to feel special? Why did I never feel like I was enough? Why did I chase love, go through a long string of failed relationships, and do ridiculous things to make a man love me? When I had children I felt like an empty part inside me had finally been filled, but it didn’t fix everything either. I still felt fat some days and depressed others. I still felt like a crappy mom sometimes or a full-out failure in other aspects of my life. The fact was I would never feel good enough all the time, fully loved half the time, or totally appreciated and understood even some of the time. Except…
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
I was always taken aback by this verse. I couldn’t understand why Jesus would ask such a thing. Why would He demand you hate your family and your life to follow Him? It didn’t seem to mesh with the loving Christ I was getting to know. I knew He said you needed to pick up your cross and follow Him, and I guess that meant leaving your husband and kids too. But to hate them?! I figured, in this case, you had to be a monk or nun to really show your love to the Lord.
My life with my family was beyond what I ever dreamed it could be. It was like a fairy tale, really. But even in my storybook life I still dealt with the world and its impact on me. People let me down, hurt me, betrayed me, misunderstood me, all of the above. People could be cruel. Even people within my own flesh and blood had said things that cut like a knife. Earthly fathers left, mothers died, husbands stopped loving their wives, and vice versa. As I grew older and drew closer to the Lord I realized all the more that people could wound me deeply, but it was my choice to forgive, and it was also my choice to move on. It was my choice to not allow other people to define me.
In fact, my many roles in life did not define me either. Even the ones I really, really loved. I was a nurse, but if I messed up on the job that didn’t mean I was an utter failure. I might not know as much as other people, but my knowledge wasn’t what made me inside and out.
I was a writer, and I loved it so much, but you wouldn’t believe the number of negative comments and even death threats I have received in my inbox over the years. I’ve been told by readers I’m a terrible person, miserable wife, horrible Christian, awful nurse, and I even had one reader make me feel responsible for the suicide he was about to commit. For years I rode a roller coaster allowing the positive and negative, up and down feedback to affect me.
I am a doting wife, but my ability to always be the best supporter doesn’t make me who I am. Thank goodness. Because sometimes I want to pinch my husband’s head off.
I am a loving mother, but my successes and failures in motherhood don’t make or break me. My ability to stay calm in the storm and always handle stuff correctly doesn’t change who I am in this life. Even how much my children adore or disdain me means little. Thank God, since they’ll all be teenagers one day.
I am a lovely woman. I am strong, healthy, and intelligent. But these characteristics are more gifts than defining attributes. One day my mind will fail. Even sooner than that my body will decline. That makes me glad it’s not the outside of the shell, but rather the pearl inside that counts.
I have come to realize that none of the things I do in life, roles I hold, or people I adore are the meaning of my life. So I’m leaving those things behind. I’m leaving them and taking hold of the only title that matters now and forever more.
I am a child of God.
As His daughter, greatly loved and made in His image, I am already all I need to be. I don’t have to stubbornly strive to be more beautiful, a more caring nurse, a less frazzled mother, or a more dutiful wife, even. I don’t have to wish I was better in social situations, less of an over-thinker, or more fashionable and funny. I am what I was created to be, and Christ is in me; therefore I’m complete. And so are you.
In that verse from Luke when Jesus said to hate your family, He wasn’t asking you to suddenly despise the people you love! But He did want His brothers and sisters to hate the way of the world that tells us we are our relationships. You’re more than a wife, husband, mother, father, or whatever else. God created relationships, and He has them for us, but until we get to Heaven and a new earth without sin, relationships will not be all He has planned for them to be. So, for now, He wants you to leave [the] mindset that human relationships define you because people will fail you. They will hurt you. They will even make you not love yourself. But He will never ask anything of you more than your love and devotion. You will always be good enough for God, and you have to leave any other mindset that says differently.
My husband seriously just told me, “Hey, Miss American, try this out,” when handing me a new phone charger. He wasn’t being sarcastic. He really thinks I’m as beautiful as a beauty queen. He’s wonderful, and my children are the best. But I understand that their love and opinion of me don’t make me who I am. Only Jesus can do that. I hate to tell Hollywood and Tom Cruise, but only Christ completes me. I’m sticking with my husband and kids, but I’m leaving behind any lie of the devil that states my relationship with them (or anyone or anything else of this world, for that matter) is what makes me happy, whole, and total.
So… I’m leaving! The question is, are you coming with me?