The past couple of days I have been ridiculously dramatic—in some ways approaching the time of mother martyrdom I wrestled so much with when my kids were very small. This time around, though, I’ve given into it with greater abandon and even a bit of flair, and deep down I’ve known what I was doing.
I attribute the difference to Grace.
I’ll explain, starting with the past first: When my children were toddler-stage, I believed that “good moms” loved being with their children 24-7 (along with a host of other bad beliefs). Therefore, I rarely took my husband up on his offers to let me “get away.” Despite his offers, in a deep down, hidden place in my heart, I blamed HIM for my sense of duty, for my unhappiness. But I didn’t come right out and say all this. I was prim and proper in my martyrdom, quietly convincing myself that I truly was right to see myself as the “martyr” who “willingly” (hmm!) took up the slack in her home, in her husband’s busy life, with their children, with her friends, in her job…
I saw that as saintly.
It was truly a miserable time. I was locked in a pious, tight mold of spiritual smugness. It was constricting. It stifled true life.
When God began tugging the log out of my eye, I began to see my “mommy martyrdom” more clearly, and I began to battle it. Not a pretty process! It was tooth-and-claw, hair-pulling, nail-scratching. I remember thinking—wailing at times—“I will NEVER be free of this!”
Fast forward to the present: I’m not going to claim “complete victory in Jesus” over my martyrdom tendencies, but I do have a far greater freedom from it than I did (which leaves me “free” to battle other monsters in my soul.)
So during the past couple days, as I’ve gotten irked with my kids for cluttering up the house (“I’m not your slave, you know! My job is not to clean up after you. I’m not doing you any favors if I do for you what you can do for yourself!”) and with my older daughter for asking me to run her here, there, and everywhere (“She has no consideration for my time,” I’ve thought.), things have been different. I didn’t hold back as I ranted in my journal yesterday about feeling invisible to my children, like a “non-entity.” I let it loose, and I didn’t try to couch it as a prayer for God to change my children’s hearts. And as I was doing it, I KNEW deep down that I was being a bit ridiculous.
After all, just the night before, Dave and I watched a documentary on REAL slavery, about the 27 million people around the world who live in bondage. Just that day I’d read about the Nepalese workers dying at the rate of one per day in Qatar because they are being forced to labor in horrific conditions on the stadium that will be used for the 2022 World Cup.
So I knew I was being dramatic, but at the same time I also knew I was getting a little closer to the honesty that makes me cling to Christ in real desperation. He sees right through my politely expressed prayers of grievance to the far grittier issues in my own heart, and THAT is what He wants to expose. So when I vent to Him (and not to every other person at random—that’s just complaining), I am coming like a little child, without pretense, admitting that I need…something! and I’m coming to Him because I may not know exactly what I need in that moment, but I know HE is the source of ALL I need, and I go running to him.
So, though my rant wasn’t pretty and it will never, ever, ever be published, I’m leaving it in my journal.
Because the difference between then and now is GRACE!