Women Who Inspire
Since reading the book of Ruth earlier this year I have been somewhat fascinated by real women of commitment. The more I think of it, I have always been somewhat perplexed by how any one can give everything and then keep giving more. Honestly, I get exhausted just thinking about it. I am leading a connect group starting next week about being committed. My thoughts have been overwhelmed by the subject. We have a tendency to call someone committed or a quitter. I think most of us fall somewhere in between.
I come from a line of women who are committed in different capacities. We are all a little loopy at times, but each of us have had something in our lives that we dug into whole heartedly. My Mother and Grandmother have been part a Sunday School ministry at the fire department in my home town for over 50 years. Even if they have to miss Church because they are going out-of-town, they still make the fire department. 50 years…that is a long time considering not many marriages these days last that long. My Mom has answered the call when my child was out of control and I did not know who else to call. She took that same child in when he could not come home. (Not because he wasn’t wanted – he needed to graduate.) Both my parents have been committed to supporting and loving their children and grandchildren. There was never a legitimate question about whether our family loved us. Of course, being stubborn me, I questioned it when I was a teen and twenty-something, but at the root I knew I was loved. Why else would they keep showing up for me?
Then there is my Aunt. She pursued her education while dealing with a husband with a bad heart…in his 30s. Eventually, my uncle had a heart transplant and she still powered through her education, taking care of her girls and working. She was frazzled, but she still managed to find the heart to reach out to others and make them feel welcome in her home. She has been through the mill, oh did I mention she is legally deaf and a breast cancer survivor too? Yeah, she is kind of amazing.
Thinking about Ruth, my Mom, Granny and Aunt…I start to question where my commitment has been. I do not want to take anything away from these amazing ladies in my family, but trust me they had their meltdowns and mishaps. Each of them took on too much at times and probably not quite enough at others. I guess the “Sue Apple” did not fall that far from the tree. There are more examples I can pull from my family, but you would think I was bragging. I am surrounded by amazing mothers, teachers, women who persevere with special needs children, ministry and an endless list I could go on about. At some point we have all wanted to throw in the towel. Put our hands up and say “I AM DONE”.
I have been committed to things in my life, but when I look back the only things that truly stick out are my education and never giving up on our boys. I’m not patting myself on the back. Not giving up on my boys does not mean I was fully present or committed the way I should have been. When other parents would have kicked their kids out, I was begging mine not to leave. I made rotten decisions…plenty of them. I am letting go of those mistakes and moving past them with God’s mercy and grace.
Where Is All This Going?
Here is the thing, without a relationship with God, a real one – not the panic-everything-is-falling-apart-prayer relationship, you cannot be who you NEED to be. Without God in the picture, there is no picture. Commitment does not always look like success. Sometimes commitment is just showing up and pushing through the best you can. Commitment is not about a state of accomplishment. It is a state of heart.
I am a different person than I was this time last year, I am a different person from six months ago. Truthfully – I am a different person since August 17th. (I was baptized in the Holy Spirit on the 18th, so very different.) The way I talk has changed. The way I react to stress, crisis and mouthy teenaged boys has changed. It is not by my own will power, it is God. I can honestly say if I had been this close to God as my children grew…I would have been a parenting all-star. (I’m kidding – I would still hate PTA meetings and would not be making hand sewn costumes.) I would have been better equip as a parent to give my children what they really needed.
I mentioned before, I think in “Mistakes and How to Make Them”, that I resorted to my probation parole training in dealing with my children, especially my difficult child. If you have ever been through training for law enforcement, military, emergency services or even first aid; you have probably heard the statement “you will react in crisis the way you train”. I trained well as a probation officer. I was not trained well as a Christian or as a parent. I am learning that a lot of what I thought I understood about the Bible and God were a load of crap. (Forgive me, but it was.) The reason we are told to read our bibles is so we can hear from God and decipher the propaganda from His message. I am not a probation officer any more but I am in training. I am training to be a committed woman of God. I am training to be a better wife, mother, daughter, aunt, friend and general member of the human race. My training manual was written a long time ago but not in a galaxy far away. I spend most of my day singing praise and worship songs or praying versus car-ride karoke.
I went through a phase where I believed being a dedicated Christian meant I was going to be long faced, serious and literally have no fun. I needed to check off certain boxes to “qualify” and look like I drank vinegar on a regular basis.
I am happier than I have ever been. That is saying a lot considering the week I have had. It has been a bad week, visit to the emergency room, insurance coverage issues, unexpected bills, my Dad in the hospital, issues in my kids lives and to top it off a speeding ticket. Yeah, it has been that kind of week. I had a melt down or two – crying saying “why, God, why”. There has been a lot of asking God to keep me in the present and not to freak out and worry. It works. I have not been worry free, but I have not been freaking out like I normally would. I have peace you can only find in a relationship with Jesus. I have joy you can only know being filled with his Holy Spirit.
So as we prepare to start “Cooking Up Commitment” here are some of my initial thoughts:
- Commitment does not always look successful
- Commitment is about what is in our hearts
- Commitment is pushing through and not quitting
- To be committed we have to learn how to say “No”; Remember even God rested on the 7th day
- When your priorities are in order, commitment will come more naturally
This is where I am starting going into this connect group semester. I am looking forward to seeing what others have to say as we progress through the semester. The following verse sums it all up. If we keep Gods commandments, everything else will fall into place…with a little effort on our part.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15