Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why Modern Motherhood is So Much Harder than it Ought to Be

Ok, this is another post from Mrs.P But if you have not started reading her yet, you are really missing out! Every mother ought to read this post!!!!  And read it to your daughters who are learning to become women. Oh my goodness this makes SO much sense to me!
-Christina -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why Modern Motherhood is So Much Harder than it Ought to Be
All around me, young mothers are stretched, and stressed, and struggling. Mommy burnout is rampant. And while, I’m sure that to some extent, it’s always been hard to manage a house full of young children, I also have a sneaking suspicion that it’s worse today, that the women of modern generations face handicaps our foremothers didn’t have to.

There was a time in the not too distant past when families worked together toward common goals. The day began with Pa and the boys doing the chores while Ma and the girls got breakfast. Everyone ate together, and then the men folk went to work in the fields or the shop downstairs, while the ladies set about the baking, or washing, or gardening, or whatever else was needed that day. The family was all together again for the midday meal before heading off to their afternoon’s work, divided only by gender lines, and then it was back together again for the evening meal and a little family time before bed. Everyone grew up watching their parents train younger siblings to help with the work, and possibly did a fair amount of training and tending of little brothers and sisters themselves. Work was done together for the good of the family business, whether it was a farm or a blacksmith shop, tailor shop, or dry goods store. Society was family centered.

Enter the Industrial Revolution. Individuals left the family unit to work in factories for the good of their employers. All day long they gave their best to further the company, and at the end of the day they brought home a paycheck that enabled them to buy food and clothes and other things that families used to make for themselves. Life became individual centered, and individuals became peer focused as they spent the majority of their waking hours with co-workers rather than with family.

The result was our modern society in which fathers go off to work alone, often very early in the mornings thanks to long commutes, and get home late; children are splintered off to age-graded classrooms and activities until they reach adulthood when they take their own place in a corporation, living all day with co-workers, striving together for the good of the company.

Now suppose one of those employees is a woman. We’ll call her Jane. One day, smiling at her over the water cooler is Mr. Right. They tie the knot, and four years later (once they’ve had time “to get to know each other”), they decide to have a baby. Jane has always been a bit old fashioned, and she believes that children do best with care from their own mothers, so around her seventh month of pregnancy, she quits her job and gets ready to be a stay at home mom.

At first, it’s exciting. The baby’s on it’s way, and there’s lots to do to decorate the perfect nursery. But then one day, Jane finds herself in her pajamas at 11:00 in the morning with stringy hair and spit up down her back, trying to comfort an inconsolable baby, and wondering what happened to her life.

Fast forward four years. Things have improved slightly. Jane usually manages to get into sweats before the day gets too far along, but she’s bored and lonely, and her four year old and her two year old are constantly fighting. The living room floor is littered with toys. The laundry is never folded. And dinner was frozen pizza three nights last week. It drives Jane crazy, and she’d like to work on trying to solve some of her problems, if she could just figure out how to get a shower.

Why is it like this? I’ll admit this was a bit of a caricature, but not much. Nearly all of Jane’s woes have happened to me before, or at least I’ve heard multiple women complain about them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m not the only one. What’s going on? I blame most of it on our handicaps.

Obviously, not all women have all of the handicaps that I’m about to enumerate (I don’t), and some may even sound a little foreign, depending on each person’s background, but I think that most of us are plagued by at least a few of the following.

1. We are handicapped by our society’s (begrudging at times) acceptance of mothers at home, but total lack of acceptance of women staying home without children. “There’s nothing to do,” the conventional wisdom goes, as if cooking, shopping, and laundry are so incidental as to fit nicely into cracks. The result of this is that, just like Jane in my story, most women don’t come home full time until they become mothers. What few of us take into account is that coming home after spending most of your life in school or at work is a MAJOR life change. We go from almost constant people contact and interaction to hours of solitude. We go from a life in which we are able to complete many tasks (like papers, and work projects) that we will not have to do again, to a world in which we will have to do most of our tasks over, and over, and over.  We go from a world in which our work was evaluated by others, and our schedules were, at least to some extent, controlled by others, to a world in which we are almost totally responsible for our own time management, and in which we are only seeking to please our husbands and the Lord. This can be hugely bewildering. It was for me. I was very depressed for a long time when I first came home after graduating from college. It took me between one and two years to wean myself away from dependence on the constant feedback of school grades to confirm my worth.

Becoming a mother is also a MAJOR life change. The responsibility can be overwhelming at times. For the first time in our lives, another human being is completely dependent upon us for everything. This little person can’t even change his own position if he gets uncomfortable or bored. We have to completely adjust our schedules to take into account the baby’s needs, and often our own needs seem lost in the shuffle. Many women face difficulties learning to breastfeed, figuring out sleeping, and yes, even showering with a new baby to care for. Marriages are often in flux at this point, too, as relationships adjust to account for a third family member. On top of this, many of us face the postpartum hormonal roller coaster and the physical pain and exhaustion of recovering from the birth.

It is insane that our culture expects us to go through both changes at once. And yet, for many women, this is the norm. We’ve all heard of “stay at home moms.” “Stay at home wives” and “stay at home daughters” are oddities in most circles.

2. We are handicapped by our society’s norm for raising children. Most of us did not spend much time at home growing up. The majority of our hours were spent at school or in age graded sports, music, or other activities. Add to that the fact that most women came from typical 2.1 child households, and the result is we know nothing about being home all day with small children. How many of us watched our mothers cook dinner every night with babies on their hips? How many of us were assigned the job of folding laundry with our three-year-old sister? How many of us helped with potty training or spent our pre-mommy lives thinking it was normal to have conversations with six-year-olds about dinosaurs or construction equipment? We have been thrown into a demanding job we have no experience for. We don’t know how to get our household jobs done with “help.” We loose our minds having “infantile” discussions with children all day and miss our “intelligent” peers and co-workers. We don’t have the management and multitasking skills to drive the household forward, and often wind up getting dragged behind a run-away mob of runny-nosed hooligans, maybe not every day, but often enough to lead to at least minor bouts of despair.

3. We are handicapped by our society’s view of home as end of the day landing site. We don’t know how to cope with being there all day. The majority of our before children creativity is devoted to careers and school. This means that when women come home, their minds are numbed by the sheer monotony of staying all day in the place the rest of the world only resorts to when they want to watch TV, eat a quick meal, or sleep. We have no vision of our homes as productive centers of education (both for our children and ourselves), outreach, artistic expression, and even entrepreneurship.  And those of us who do catch hold of the dream, usually have no examples to follow, and have to work out what that means all by ourselves from scratch, making all the inevitable mistakes along the way.

4. We are handicapped by our society’s undervaluing of homemaking. Home skills aren’t really respected because home isn’t seen as all that important. After all, wasn’t it the family farm we all wanted to get away from so badly in the Industrial Revolution? And we can thank the feminists of the 60’s and 70’s for reminding us that any brainless, dependent leech can keep things going at home. Work is the exciting place. Now some people will concede that children do better with their own mothers than in a daycare, so it’s OK with some people if mothers stay home to care for their children, but homemaking? That’s not really necessary. We don’t have any idea of what to do at home, so many women assume that they’re just kind of there as babysitters to keep the kids from killing themselves while they play all day and trash the house. There’s nothing more boring than having no goals, no real responsibilities, and no meaningful work. If you don’t cook, so what? There’s always McDonald’s. If you don’t clean, so what? The house is a disaster, and you’re depressed about it, but you have little kids, and who can really expect anything to be different?

5. We’re handicapped by our society’s view of fatherhood as financial support and nothing more. We women are home ALONE with our children. We’re no longer part of a team. Modern men don’t live in a family centered world. Instead of working downstairs in the shop or out in our own fields, they’re across town all day in an office. They aren’t home for a midday meal. They aren’t taking the children with them to do chores, or training the boys to work alongside them.

Men no longer see children as their “job.” Consequently, women have the full responsibility for the children in many households, which means they must be working, or at least “on-call” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which translates into a 168 hour work week. Men think they’re working crazy hours when they hit 60 or 80 hours per week, but many dads still feel entitled to sit around in the evenings watching TV or surfing the web to decompress and still expect their wives to do all the parenting. Since the children aren’t their job anyway, even when they are home, many fathers don’t invest much in their children. But parenting IS the father’s job. Nearly every parenting command in the Bible is given to “fathers,” not mothers. Women are being asked to parent for two much of the time. And as anyone in the work world will tell you, doing your job AND someone else’s is exhausting.

A lot of dads (like my wonderful husband) believe that they need to parent with more than a paycheck and are making their children a priority. But they’re still stuck in the system. They’re still gone for hours. They still have to go to work alone instead of with their children. And for mothers, the lonely days can be long and hard.

So what’s the answer? Well, the best plan is to become a radical and create a Utopia. Seriously. Realize the mess our culture has made of motherhood, and make fixing it part of the micro-culture you create in your home. You may also have to put yourself through rehabilitation and physical therapy for your attitudes. And it may just be hard for a while, but at least maybe we can stop blaming ourselves for our lack of “talent,” or thinking that we aren’t cut out to be mothers and admit that we do actually have some challenges to overcome.

Discipleship Parenting

On this earth, our human relationships reflect spiritual relationships and can serve to teach us many things about our relationship with God. For most of us, the first, most fundamental relationship is that of children relating to our parents. Time and time again in Scripture, God describes himself as our Father, and we gain much of our understanding about Who He is based on how we have interacted with our human parents. And so one thing that has become foundational to my husband and me is that we behave toward our children in such a way as to teach them experientially from the moment of their births things that are true about God, things that will help, rather than hinder their relationships with Him, because the ultimate goal of parenting should not be independent children, but children who transfer their dependence on their parents to dependence on God. It is out of that desire that we have sought, in our very fallible way, to model our parenting of our children after the Lord’s fathering of His children.

One of the most basic ways this has been played out practically is in seeking to always be available to our children. This is a somewhat revolutionary thought and one that severely goes against our independence-loving culture. All around I hear moms talking about how much they want to get away from their children. They can’t wait for school to start so they can get something done. They need “me time” so they don’t go crazy. And they need babysitters for everything, babysitters during Bible study and church, babysitters so they can hang out with other couples, and babysitters for clubs and “Mom’s Day Out;” I even had a lady suggest to me that I should have a mother’s helper come in so I could do my laundry. It was quite a revelation to me the day I asked myself, is this the way God treats us? I came up with a resounding, “NO!” Consider the following verses, which are just the tip of the iceberg:
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. –Deuteronomy 31:6
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.–Hebrews 13:5b
Psa 55:16,17 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. –Psalm 55:16,17
Psa 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. –Psalm 34:15
…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. –Matthew 28:20b
We have come to the conclusion that just as the Lord is always with us, we should seek to be with our children as much as we possibly can to help foster in them the kind of trust that they will eventually transfer to the Lord. But the Lord doesn’t stay with us just to comfort and help us, He is discipling us, chastening us, teaching us through His Word and through carefully chosen life experiences, all for the purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son. So, too, we believe, should we as human parents have as our purpose discipling our children toward Christ-likeness. And, interestingly enough, there’s a direct command for parents that seems to me to illustrate this principle.
Deu 6:6,7 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. –Deuteronomy 6:6,7
The picture here is one of discipleship, it’s one of parents taking their children everywhere with them. It’s a system in which no teachable moment is ever missed. Not only do the children have constant access to their parents, but the parents are constantly investing in their children, constantly teaching and training. And the children who are parented in this way, learn not just from their parents words, but from their examples also. This is exactly the relationship that our Heavenly Father has with His Son.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. –John 5:19,20
Showing our children what we’re doing, teaching them to do it, too, working together: this is the kind of relationship that fosters the closeness necessary for our words to have weight with our children. Consider:
Pro 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. –Proverbs 23:26
How many teenagers lament that their parents “just don’t understand” them? We want to have our children’s hearts, and though we don’t have teenagers yet, we believe a key element of preparing for that time is simply spending A LOT of time with our children from Day 1 so that we will truly know and understand them and they us, and so they have a chance to observe our ways. And, of course, we’re not just trying to produce clones of ourselves to pad our own egos. As Paul said,
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. –1 Corinthians 11:1
Any fruit that we hope to see in our children’s lives must first be evident in our own lives. We need to be working together as a whole family toward godliness, and as parents, it’s our job to take the lead both through direct training and example.

We all have the tendency to want to be like whomever we spend the most time with. If we want our children’s hearts, if we want their eyes to observe our ways above the ways of their friends, the people on TV, and the media all around them, if we want them to have the kind of relationship with us early on that will help them understand a right relationship with God later, then we need to never leave them nor forsake them, our ears need to be open unto their cries, we need to tell them about the Lord throughout the day, and show them everything we do.

So, how do you really go about this day by day? I’m definitely still learning myself! In a moment, though, I’ll share some of the things the Lord has taught us so far on what it might mean to be discipling our children. But before I start, I do want to emphasize one very important thing. What I’m about to say is the practical outworking of the principles I’ve just gone over as my husband and I have applied them to our family. Your family is different. Please consider what’s here and take what is helpful. I’m not trying to create a new law that you must live by or else you’re a bad mother and a bad Christian. These are our convictions, and they are genuine convictions, but I’m not here to judge you if you have different ones. My motivation in sharing these things is simply to encourage you and to give you some idea of what this lifestyle could look like, but it’s up to you (and your husband!) to decide what thoughts, if any, you’ll implement in your home. With that in mind, let’s get started.

When we have a tiny baby, discipling mostly means modeling God’s faithfulness by letting him be with us all the time. We try to put him where he can see what we’re doing and talk to him and sing to him as much as possible. And if he’s struggling, I try to lay my work aside. This can be REALLY hard sometimes. But I always remember that my baby has an eternal soul. My first child wanted to be held all the time, so I know what it’s like to not even feel like you can sit down and eat. Sometimes housework isn’t going to get done. Sometimes we may have to eat frozen pizza for dinner. But what I invest in my baby is forever. I once read a wonderful line in an article by Tamera Eaton, entitled, A Wasted Day? It said, “I don’t plan on taking my dirty laundry with me to heaven, but I do plan on taking my children.” My baby needs a mommy who’s going to disciple him by showing him consistent love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance more than he needs a dust free environment or an uncluttered nursery.

As our babies have grown, what the principle of discipleship has meant for us is that we’ve made the commitment to include our children in our day to day work just as our Heavenly Father graciously lets us bumble our way through participating in His work. Since I’m the one home with them most of the time, that mostly translates to including the children in day to day work. I make a real effort to keep them in the same room with me all the time. If they’re truly too young to be involved, I at least let them get their hands messy, so to speak. If they can’t fold laundry yet, I let them have some small towels to wad up in a ball. And an older baby in a front pack or sling can help put laundry in the washer or empty the silverware tray from the dishwasher into a drawer. As soon as they can stand up reliably by themselves I let them start helping a little in the kitchen with dumping in ingredients and stirring. And toddlers can try their hand at washing dishes or scrubbing potatoes or carrying things in from the car. And while I’m doing all these things, I can be singing hymns with them, talking to them, and of course, answering lots, and lots, and lots of questions, questions that would never come up if they were in the other room watching a video.

Is it impossible to be efficient in this kind of arrangement? Well, yes and no. What I’ve discovered is that when I succumb to the overwhelming urge to do something “efficiently” and try to leave my children in another room playing by themselves, they always make the biggest messes. These are the times that they tend to break things, draw on the carpet, take toys away from each other, and generally make it impossible for me to work efficiently! As Proverbs 29:15 says, “a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” I find it actually saves time in the long run to include my children whenever I can.

Another commitment we have made is to always worship with our children. We have decided that even if we go to a church one day that has these things that we will never place our children in church nurseries or Sunday school classes, not because they are fundamentally evil, but because we feel they can be a case of the good getting in the way of the best. WE are the ones responsible before God for the training of our children. We don’t want to give up that responsibility, that privilege, to anyone. We also don’t want to send the message to our children that we can’t worship God with them around. And they soak up an awful lot! My oldest, when she was three and a half, was already asking questions about the sermons she was hearing. Even very young children can learn to sit quietly in church. And before you know it, they’ll be participating. At our little meeting, we have a family whose two oldest boys are ten and twelve, and they’ve been answering questions in the whole group discussion time for over a year now.

Another thing we’ve done is to think long and hard before we get a babysitter. We view it as a sign that we have our children’s hearts that they want to be with us, to go where we go, and do what we do, and we don’t want to undervalue or diminish that desire. We do go out on a date by ourselves every once in a while, (but we take along any baby who’s still exclusively nursing), and my husband and I take turns going to the gym a couple nights a week, but on the whole we take our children everywhere, even out to dinner or to “grown-up” events like adult friends’ birthday parties. This, of course, necessitates a lot of extra training, but since our children are going to spend most of their lives interacting in an adult world, we figure the sooner they learn how, the better off they’ll be.

One other major commitment we’ve made that I would seriously encourage you to consider is homeschooling. I personally think it would be extremely difficult to really disciple my children if they were away from me six or seven hours a day. Frankly, I can’t imagine how I could obey the Lord’s command to talk of His commandments when I sit in my house, when I walk by the way, when I lie down, and when I rise up, if my children weren’t with me when I was doing all those things. Not everyone can homeschool, of course, but if you have the chance, I wouldn’t pass it up.

This path that I have described is far from easy. In fact, if you decide to try any of it, it will probably often feel like the hardest kind of parenting imaginable. We’ve been working alone all our lives, and our flesh likes to remind us how easy it would be to go back to doing things that way. I know I fail so often in truly being open to my children, but the days when, by the Lord’s grace, I manage to do all these things I’ve shared are the happiest and most peaceful of my life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

licensed to socialize

This is another WONDERFUL post from her. I really LOVE her thoughts and how she is able to put them into words.
-Christina ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Licensed to Socialize

Socialization. It’s one of the most common arguments against homeschooling. In fact, when I tell people that I’m a homeschool graduate, they almost never ask me if I thought I had a good education, or if I felt prepared for adulthood. No, the question I nearly always get is, “What did you do about socialization?” For most of my life, I have said things like, “Actually, I had more friends when I was homeschooled than I did when I was in public school.” But this week, I had an experience that made me realize that true socialization is a lot more than having other kids to play with. True socialization is gaining the ability to behave socially (and therefore, not anti-socially); it’s mastering the skill of getting along with people.
With my husband out of town on business, I decided to console my children (and myself) with a trip to the local children’s museum, figuring that we’d pretty much have the place to ourselves on a Thursday morning, a welcome change after enduring Saturday crowds on our previous visits.

My first clue that I had made a miscalculation came as we entered the front door and saw giant bins marked with the names of local schools and the word, “lunches.”

“Hmm,” I thought, “there must be some school groups here today. I guess it won’t be as empty as I’d thought.”
It turned out to be just as crowded as on the weekends, only this time, instead of being crowded with families, it was only children, everywhere. Of course, there were a few teachers and volunteer parents, but they were milling around, trying to watch everyone, and therefore not really watching anyone very carefully.

It was chaotic, and several of the children were rather aggressive. We tried to visit the climb-in ambulance, but my two-year-old was nearly knocked down by a couple of gleeful, oblivious, big boys jumping out of it. Everywhere we went, children were running around, some of them getting right into whatever we were doing with seemingly no concept of waiting their turn, others abandoning whatever they were doing and wandering off the minute we approached, looking a little shell-shocked and beaten up. I got the impression that maybe they didn’t realize that I had every intention of making my children wait their turn.

We spent ages waiting in “line” (or perhaps “blob” is a better word) for a favorite experiment, and as we waited, I watched the interactions. First of all, the child who was using it (over, and over, and over) seemed completely unaware of how long she was taking or of how many children were waiting for a turn. Second, hoards of other children kept sidling up, trying to join in when it wasn’t their turn. They were greeted with shoves and dirty looks, which seemed to me to have a touch of pitiful desperation. My children were getting bored standing and waiting, but I explained to them that we had to wait for all the children who had gotten there ahead of us to try the experiment, and that then it would be our turn.

That’s when my daughter asked a profound question, “How do you know that’s how it works?” How do I know? How do I know that that is the way polite society functions? Where was I socialized to understand “first come first served,” “wait your turn,” etc.? And, for that matter, what is the best way to learn these things?

Many people assume that by constant interaction with lots of peers, children will pick up on the nuances of life, like not knocking down toddlers, and not cutting in “blob.” This is all part of the important skill of getting along with people, of being well “socialized,” but as I watched the mobs of kids bouncing around, vying for chances at the exhibits, and getting very little guidance about how to actually treat one another, I started thinking about another kind of social interaction: driving.

Just as we have social rules about not knocking into people, waiting your turn, staying in line, etc. for everyday life, we also have socially agreed upon rules for those exact things when it comes to driving. But with driving, we have a significantly different approach to learning those rules. I began to wonder what the roads would be like if we expected new drivers to learn to behave on the road the same way we seem to expect children to learn how to behave in school groups.

What if we put a whole bunch of people who’ve never driven before in cars in a big parking lot, and just let them drive? Would they eventually figure out how to behave at a four-way stop or how to merge with traffic? Or would we have exactly what I saw at the museum, a few aggressive, gleeful drivers, knocking into others, a few oblivious people doing their own thing, not noticing the effect it had on the others, and maybe a few self-preservationists, hiding off in the corners, feeling nervous, and not really getting anywhere?

You don’t learn things as complex as the rules of the road or the rules of etiquette by bumbling around with other people who also don’t know what to do. You learn by having someone with you telling you, “OK, this is what we do in this situation,” someone like the licensed adult who’s supposed to be sitting next to you when you have your learner’s permit.

When I got my permit, my dad took me to a nearly deserted parking lot, and sat beside me talking me through my first jerky attempts. Later, we moved on to driving on back roads with very few other drivers and Dad beside me all the time. Pretty soon, I was driving everywhere, but always with my mom or dad right next to me, coaching, until at last, I passed a test, and then I was off and driving on my own.

Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to approach socialization the same way: starting small with constant supervision and coaching, gradually adding more and more interactions, but keeping children right with their “licensed adult” parents, until they truly know how to behave? This is Dicipleship Parenting applied to socialization, and it makes the whole question of how children can be socialized without classroom time seem a lot less logical.

Of, course, you don’t become well socialized simply by being homeschooled. Just as you can’t learn to drive if you never get in the driver’s seat, children will never be socially savvy if they’re never around other people. The key is the coaching. Our children need lots of chances to interact with others, but slowly, step by step, back roads before interstates, and always with help.

The museum is a very different place on Saturdays. It’s crowded, but you never have to wait very long for an experiment because the socially adept parents see you standing there and help their children take a short turn, “so the other kids can try, too.” Rowdy children are corralled, collisions apologized for, and polite conversation skills practiced. “Say goodbye to the little girl. We’re going up to the next floor now.” “Say, ‘thank you.’ That boy just got down so you could have a turn.” This is the kind of socialization that’s going to help our children get places in life. And it’s virtually impossible to give it to them in a classroom environment.

As we walked away from the museum after our school group experience, my daughter said to me, “Why didn’t all those kids have their parents with them?” I couldn’t have asked a better question myself.

A Movement is NOT a MESSIAH

I know that I have not blogged in a long time, and I hope to remedy that soon. i truely miss it. I miss writing what is on my heart and being able to look back on it and remember how God has worked on me so intricately, but for now, this is a GREAT reminder of how we need to be focused. And I hope to get on here and enjoy you all soon. -------------------------------------------------------------------
A Movement is Not a Messiah
Life can be a labyrinth sometimes, booby-trapped and foggy, with dark and lonely dead-end places waiting behind corners, where false turns lead to trouble, wasted time, and regret. We have the directions, of course, in God’s word. We even have a guide, the Holy Spirit. But all around us people are calling over their shoulders in the thick mist,  “Hey, I’ve read the directions, and we need to go this way! Run straight ahead for ten steps and then turn sharply to your left.” The strong, confident voices, shouting out directions with eloquence and aplomb, can gather droves of stampeding followers. And a movement is born. Patriarchy. Homeschooling. Home/natural birthing. Courtship. House church. Sheltering. Modesty. Quiver-full. “I’ve read the directions, and we need to go this way.” I’ve said it myself. You can read it in my archives. And while there is absolutely a place for sharing our beliefs and convictions, we must never forget that a movement is not a messiah, and stampedes can lead you right over a cliff.

The danger comes when people place all their hope in movements, as if following them will necessarily result in the Lord’s blessing. We think we’re in a bargain with God. “OK, God, I’ll do the modesty thing, give my daughters purity rings, and buy homemaking units from Christian Light. I expect you’ll have  flawless husbands lined up by my girls’ twenty-first birthdays. (Definitely not those real guys who sin and make mistakes and call weddings off or don’t even propose.)” And we get really excited about our bargains with God, smug even. “I’ve found the secret. No more trouble for me and my family. We’re in the inner circle now. Yessirree.” We don’t notice that an idol has slipped in, that we’ve put our faith in something else, that now that we have the formula, we don’t really need God, except at the end of each little project, when He’s supposed to reward us with the blessings we so richly deserve. Peace. Security. Health. Happiness. Well-behaved, godly children who love to pass out tracts, start home businesses, and marry young.

Sometimes the movement becomes a litmus test. “The So-and-so’s say they’re Christians, but” (and here the eyebrows rise knowingly) “they send their kids to public school.” We love them just a little less. We’re disappointed. We label them with the ultimate movement junkie insult, not likeminded, and go on to better friends, friends who are “godly” enough to do all the same things we’re doing.

But then one day, something dreadful happens. Someone’s life gets messed up (maybe it’s even your life that didn’t turn out as advertised). The movement failed to protect us from sin and human frailty. People who practice courtship can wind up getting their hearts broken. I’ve seen it. People who give control of their wombs to the Lord can wind up facing serious health problems. I’ve seen it. People who grow up in large, “perfect” homeshool families can wind up not even saved. I’ve seen that one, too. And these “failures” can be devastating. They can lead to crises of faith, anger at God, and ditching the movement that let us down. We may even become outspoken antimovement evangelists, warning others away from such pernicious programs and dissociating ourselves from everything that reminds us of the movement we left. You may give up patriarchy after your patriarchal father destroyed your family with an affair, and in the process toss out modesty and homeschooling just because they remind you of the people who wrecked your life.

We would be spared a lot of pain if we remembered that a movement is exactly that, a movement, motion in a direction. A movement is not a destination. The destination needs to be God, knowing Him, serving Him, becoming like Him. The destination is the point, not the directional motion. When the directional motion becomes the point, we can take things to extremes. We may need to drive west to get to Chicago, but once we become enamored with westward motion, we run the risk of blowing right on by and ending up in the Pacific ocean. We need to constantly reevaluate where we stand relative to God’s perfection. And the appropriate direction to move is always towards godliness, which may or may not be deeper in to the movement du jour, just as someone in Detroit needs to go west to Chicago, but someone in Seattle has to go a long way east. Take the Quiver-full movement for example. Someone who thinks that children are little life-disrupting leaches to be avoided at all costs probably needs to move in a Quiver-full direction in order to understand the heart of God towards little ones. But someone who has made the Quiver-full movement the point, who views family size as a measuring stick of relative godliness and looks down on people with lower fertility, probably needs to move away from the movement as an idol and refocus on the Lord.

We may do all the same things that people in movements are doing (and in fact, all the examples of movements that I used in the first paragraph were things that my family is actually living out right now because we genuinely believe they are beneficial directions for us to go in), but we need to do everything, not simply for its own sake, but because when we look at the Lord and where we fall short, we see that moving in these directions brings us closer to walking in His ways. It is drawing close to Him that brings peace, security, and happiness. When He is our delight, we are able to weather the storms of sin and human frailty. The point is His glory. He is our Messiah. No movement can ever take His place.

Oh... SUCH a great reminder that our "movements" are good for a PURPOSE. The purpose is to bring us closer to our savior and LORD. If the caravan that you are on is not moving you closer to HIM, GET OFF THAT BAND WAGON!!!  If you liked this post, you can find more from her at pursuing titus 2. I hope to chat with you all soon.