(I led a Bible study for years and I wrote this for a group of young women. I hope you find it helpful whatever your age.)
Sisters in Christ,
I wanted to share this with you because I’ve sensed that some of you are grappling with some of the very issues that plagued me at your age. I wanted to encourage each of you in your spiritual journey.
I think I could’ve avoided much trouble early-on had an older Christian woman shared with me as I’m about to do with you. It is a step of faith because I write with no idea how this will be received and run the risk that my motives will be misunderstand or come across as pompous. I have often mentioned to my husband how happy I am to be seated at the same table with all of you. I told him today what I was planning to do and that I was a little nervous about how it might be perceived.
You know what he said? He reminded me of how often I’ve stated that I never had a mentor as a young woman. He asked me if it would have made a difference in my life.
It would have made a huge difference.
I can vividly remember being your age and all the doubts I had about mothering, being a good wife, a devoted Christian, etc. I became so impatient with God at times. Why did I have to struggle so much with depression and anxiety? Why didn’t God heal me? Why did I screw up so much? You get the gist. I wish someone had taken the time to say to me what I am going to say to you:
Give yourself time to grow in Christ. Even now I have a great sense of urgency when it comes to my own growth; I want to be all grown-up in Him right now. But I’ve come to realize that when that happens, I will already by in His presence anyway because according to His word that is the only time I’m ever going to be “complete”.
I think I often missed the “joy” that comes from being in relationship with God because I’ve always been so hard on myself. Every time I didn’t share my faith, every time I spoke a harsh word to my children or husband; every time I didn’t have devotions, the list goes on.
While a sensitive spirit is important to our growth, it’s never meant to burden us.
Over the years, I’ve often thought about Christ and His life on earth. He was single-minded about His mission on earth but He laughed, He went to dinner parties, He played with children. He told stories that were engaging and profound but He didn’t use long theological words or complicated themes. He knew who He was and whose He was. He told us we could experience that same joyfulness.
Why do we make it so hard?
I know I always did at your age. I worried about not being a good wife or a good mother. What if I missed God’s call on my life? What if I ended up with lots of regrets? Now, here’s the interesting part-I wasn’t always a good wife and mother, and I do regret some things. All the worrying in the world didn’t change that for that one minute.
I can remember the agony I used to feel over my perceived inadequacies. I’ve since learned that most, if not all, could’ve been avoided had I just relaxed a little. It was my relationship with myself that was usually the problem. Had I trusted that He was maturing me at His speed, I would’ve probably committed fewer mistakes. Enjoy your relationship with Him-it’s what He wants.
Without exception, every women I know wishes she had enjoyed her life and her family more. It really boils down to an issue of trust. We just don’t trust that if there’s something He wants us to do, He’ll make it clear. If there’s an issue we need to confess; He’ll bring it to our attention. If there’s an area in our life we need to improve; He’ll make that evident, too.
I’m not suggesting we abandon our sensitivities but I am suggesting we abandon unhealthy introspection. Besides Scripture never tells us to feel guilty, only that we are guilty. And even with that He provides a way out.
Confession and a change of behavior takes care of that. God makes the restoration process between He and us very simple. We’re the ones that complicate it; we feel such a need to punish ourselves endlessly. God doesn’t give us that right.
I’ve come to the place in my own life where I realize how often I’ve hurt Him by not accepting His forgiveness freely. The truth is we just need to confess it, change it and get on with it. That doesn’t mean that at times we won’t have some other apologies to make and some bridges to mend. The sad truth is we may well live with the consequences of our actions for the rest of our lives. But we can still trust God to make something of our life.
I could go on and on but I won’t. I do want to share something that was said to me when I was your age-it changed my life. I was a pretty mixed up young wife and mother of two at the time and was feeling pretty bad about myself in both those areas. I poured out my soul to our pastor at that time and with tears in his eyes he looked at me and said, “Any man would be proud to call you his daughter.” I have never forgotten that.
God has delivered me in such a way that when depression strikes now, I have an arsenal of helpful tools. I believe God has given me these tools so I can manage my depression and not allow it to spiral out of control as in the past. I’ve learned that He is absolutely faithful to meet my needs and I now feel encouraged to ask Him for my wants as well. I have learned to be comfortable in His presence and tell Him everything. I don’t hold anything back anymore and it’s such a wonderful freeing experience.
That doesn’t sound like much, does it?
But you can never imagine what that did for me. I realize I’ve left out a lot of detail but it has to be that way. The point is that sometimes it’s a remark from a relative stranger that can turn our world around. I have wonderful children; they both love the Lord so I’m not lacking in that department. In fact, I’m surrounded by people who love me. At the time the pastor said that to me, however, I was just really messed up. I know nothing about any or your backgrounds but for some reason God has placed it on my heart to say to each of you,
“Any woman would be proud to call you their daughter.”
God bless and have a wonderful Mother’s Day.