*This was written to one of my dear friends. I was going to write this just to her, but the truths are needed for most parents who are in the trenches, so I made some details more generic for the sake of the blog and sharing with all of you.
My sweet, weary friend,
You opened up yesterday about how you’ve been feeling like you’re failing as a wife, failing as a mother, and failing as a friend since your family changed a few months ago. I woke up this morning feeling the weight of your words, crying out to Jesus for you, and I hope to build you up with this letter.
Love feels like failure. Real love isn’t the yummy feelings we have toward our husbands, though that can certainly be a side effect. Real love gives up the things we once loved for the sake of others. We work our whole lives toward something we dreamed would bring us joy. It might be a brochure-worthy family who is peaceful, happy, and together. It might be a job. It might be a creative endeavor. It might be a financial status. It might be respect from others. Then an opportunity to love comes along, and the only way to do it well is to give up our dreams. It feels like a part of us has to die, and the grief is fierce.
It must have felt that way 2,000 years ago, too. Jesus wanted to be with his Daddy. But for the sake of love for his father and his people, he became the biggest failure ever in the eyes of those around him. That fool died for the ones who hated him. He had a good thing going for him, too, with fame and followers. And he gave it all up for love. All the people watching laughed or shook their heads in disappointment or mocked him. They thought he’d actually be something in this life, but instead he died the most humiliating death of all, just a nobody.
But that was only the earthly perspective. In heaven there was a much different scene taking place. They knew what that death meant. They knew it meant victory, not failure. And there was a party as the serpent got his head crushed. His “failure” was the very thing that exalted him to the highest place, and it made failure impossible for you.
You have a picture in your head of love. It’s been shaped by society, articles, magazines, things your friends say. Probably even things I say. But our definition of love is so small. God wants much more for us.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11)
I watch you almost every day, and you’re my hero. I see how hard everything is, and I see you continue to fight the fight. I see you take time out for every kid and adult around you, often overwhelmed but always dropping what you’re doing for their sake, especially when you don’t feel like it. I see you pour into your family, doing the mundane day after day. I hear the hours of conversations you have about your children, trying to make the most faithful decisions for them. I see how passionate you are for justice for your friends, and how you can’t just sit and do nothing. I see how weary you are. And it’s pretty much the best view I have.
The most beautiful sunset doesn’t even compare.
But you don’t see yourself that way. You focus on the details that show you in the worst light while the deceiver whispers in your ear, distorting and inflating those details. You’re tempted to see the moments instead of the full picture. You get weighed down with how hard everything is, and you see all that as failure.
You forget that when you sin, when you get selfish, when you choose the wrong thing, when everything comes crashing down, that’s exactly where God meets you. He wants you where you can’t rely on your own strength. He wants you to be reminded you can’t fail, not because you’ve been a good wife, mom, and friend, but because of the One who lives in you. You’re now a success no matter what because he himself is your new identity, and his earthly “failures” are eternal glory.
Even as you read this, I’m sure you’re still not seeing yourself rightly. None of us ever do. We’re at war with the spiritual forces of evil, and it’s hard to block all his flaming arrows. As we stand side by side in this battle, this letter is my attempt to help pick you up to get you safely behind your shield again, as you have done for me countless times. Praise God we don’t fight this battle alone!
Your sacrifice here on this earth, your mundane tasks, the decisions you have to constantly make, the dreams you’ve given up–they all point me, your children, your husband, your friends, your neighbors, your church, the people at the grocery store, to the Savior. It feels so small, so insignificant, so pointless. But it shines God’s glory far brighter than any humanly thing we could do. It makes you the most successful wife, mom, and friend in the world. A success based on your weakness but his strength. And your kids get front row tickets to it every day. How blessed they are!!!
I long for the final day with you. You’ll enter the presence of Jesus to hear him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And you’ll hear cheering from the rest of us as we agree and laugh in joy. And your family will be in the front cheering loudest of all.
Come, weary saints, though tired and weak
Your strength will return by His quiet streams
Come, wandering souls, and find your home
He offers the rest that you yearn to know
Come, guilty ones weighed down with sin
The freedom you long for is found in Him
Come, hopeless hearts, do not despair
For ten thousand joys await you there
Hear Him calling your name
See the depths of His love
In the wounds of His grace
Hide away in the love of Jesus