God uses what He will to shepherd our hearts.
This is the third in a series of posts featuring some of the ways God
used my family and the Scriptures to draw me closer to Himself.
I share them to encourage you to trust in God no matter what “life” brings. ❤️
A WORD TO THE WISE:
“Do not deceive yourselves.
If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age,
you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”
I Corinthians 3:18, 19a
For many years, feeling as if “failure” was my middle name, I struggled with depression. After surrendering my heart to Christ, the first Bible study I participated in was a six-week study of Philippians. Written by the Apostle Paul from a of filthy Roman prison cell, Paul none-the-less urged his friends toward JOY:
“REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS,
again I say, REJOICE!”
What did I learn from Paul’s letter?
- That for Christians, the basis for JOY runs deeper than mere happiness.
- JOY is a choice.
- No matter how my circumstances change or what others do, JOY is always to be had through Christ who strengthens me.
From then on, that was all I wanted . . .
pure, unadulterated JOY in the One who saved me
Yet I continued to struggle in two areas:
- I was disorganized. I felt as if I constantly let God down, as I struggled to care for home and family.
- Going deeper, I knew my children needed discipline as they grew but, I didn’t how to discipline my children as a Christian mother.
At times, feeling closer to despair than joy, I prayed and dug into the Scriptures for the perspective I needed. Finally, this verse pricked my mind and heart:
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.”
I Samuel 16:7
As I contemplated the wisdom of Samuel, it struck me that my problem was rooted in my ideal–PERFECTIONISM (or what I jokingly referred to as, “Better Homes and Gardens perfect”.) I realized that I was confusing Scripture’s call to holiness** with perfectionism. Until then, I would have laughed at the suggestion that I was a perfectionist–assuming that true perfectionists DID have their lives together!
However, the one thing I knew for sure,
was that God as my Shepherd would be far gentler
than the tyranny of perfectionism that had ruled me for so long.
Soon after, help that would answer my struggle with organization arrived. A church friend invited me to join her and several others looking for help in organizing their homes. Using an organizational card-system for “Side-tracked Home Executives” (referred to as, SHE), we found encouragement. For several weeks we laughed as we listened to tapes featuring the stories of sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones, who sounded as if they had been more disorganized than we were. It was their humor as well as their insights shared, not only about organizing our homes, but also a fresh perspective on husbands and children–that ministered to my heart. In the end, their system did help me bring order to our home, but it also brought fun ways to encourage and discipline my children toward organization through:
- “The Maid’s Box”–a cardboard box where favorite toys cluttering our home were placed until redeemed for 25 cents; and
- “The Room Fairy”–who left occasional treats when their bedrooms were picked up.
Looking back, that season not only brought order (a healthier goal) to our home but also encouraged my heart in many other ways.
One memory that still causes me to smile occurred while we lived in England. After my daughters found special treats on their beds from the Room Fairy, a neighbor girl said, “Aw, there’s no such thing as a Room Fairy, your mum bought those things.” For a moment fearing that I had been found out, my oldest promptly responded, “Yes there is a Room Fairy, there’s no way my mum would buy such great stuff!” 😊
I continue to be grateful for how God freed me to trust Him with managing my home and family.
While getting organized outwardly, there was still a long way to go in tending to God’s primary concern: the inward condition of our hearts. In my next post I will write about lessons learned as God replaced perfectionism with His perspective on discipline. Here’s a hint to encourage you until then:
“He tends His flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart;
He gently leads those that have young.”
All to His Glory!
*“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” I Peter 1:15