Dear Twenty year old Me,
As life races by and I want to slow down, I think back to the early you. You will think to yourself, “I wish I knew now what I knew then”, but would I like to start over? Yes! And no.
But, there are a few things I’d like to tell you; things that may have alleviated undue pressure, preempted trials, put less wear-and-tear on your heart. But I also want to say, relax! It’s going to be ok. In fact, it’s going to be awesome. And hard. And beautiful. And laborious.
I’d first like to tell you that you are as messed up as you think. You are continually going to be tempted to follow after the wrong passions. You are disobedient and you will never be able to get your act together. You are gong to blow it as a wife and mom over and over again. You are filled with sin by your very nature and there is no hope for you to ever amount to anything…But GOD! He is rich in mercy, and because of the great love with which He loved you, even when you were dead in your polluted disobedience, He made a way! He made you alive together with Christ! It was by grace you have been saved—stop trying to “be better’, “love Him more”, “act the right way”, because only grace saved you! Nothing you have done or will ever do, it was unmerited grace from God alone. Now dear self, just walk out the good things He has prepared for you. (Eph. 2)
Secondly, you need to understand your roll, as a mother, is not about making your child love God. You get the privilege of training them in the things of God. You get to mimic the gospel. You get to pray for each of their salvations and that they belong to Him. You get to be a walking example of Christ-like character with abandoned humility. But nothing you do will save them! You cannot protect them from Hell; you cannot walk out their trials. God saves; He is the only one who can save them. Matt Chandler says, you “gather the kindling, but only got ignites their hearts.” Stop all the striving and rest Cathy Jo. Rest in the promises of Psalm 78:6 “that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God.”
Also, don’t miss out on so much. Stop and watch your kids more. Watch how they play and interact with others. Put down your magazine while your child is on the playground, or at the pool. (It’s a good thing there was no smart phone with FB when they were little!) Rachel Jankovic is right, “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.” Interact more, play more, enjoy more time with them. Know who they are really are. You may hear it all the time, but the time really does go by way too fast. You will blink; they will be grown with kids of their own! Be willing to die to yourself just a little more, don’t fret that you will never have one moment alone. I promise you, you will one day tinkle without an audience! Your house will be free from an avalanche of toys and the mysterious purple stain is on a rug that will be replaced many times over the next several years. Engage your children everyday, it will make a difference
Cathy Jo, you are going to read a lot of great, gospel saturated parenting books over the next few decades. Continue to choose what you read carefully. Don’t be swayed by things that tickle your ears or make you feel better as a mom. However, I wish you would spend more time in the book written by your Father. Spend less time trying to learn how to be a better parent and learn about the perfect parent. You are going to miss a lot of great truths that will transform your heart by trying to be a godly mom and never really knowing God. His word will grow your faith. His word will be the blood flow to the heartbeat of your life. Remember ‘formally, when you did no know God you were enslaved, but now that you have come to know God’, you wont turn back or regret it. (Gal. 4:8) Remember Psalm 73:28, “But for me it is good to be near to God” and being in His word is a great way to be near to Him.
Lastly, Be still! You will put a lot of unnecessary mileage on your heart. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not!” (Psalm 37:7) Sometimes the waiting will seem forever, fretting will sneak up on you! Yet, “Be still, and know that (He is) God.” (Psalm 40:10) Cathy Jo, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) You are the recipients of Christ’s imputed righteousness and you can anticipate with joy, absolute acceptance from God and His everlasting inheritance. He will never love you more or less. His love is perfect! He is out for your good and His glory, no matter what the next 35 years bring.And I’ll give you a clue; it’s not what you imagined and more than you could have hoped for!
For His Glorious fame, Me