Sunday, September 22, 2013

You Matter! Part 2 of 3

I'm not one to think I have much wisdom when it comes to mothering. Being a divorced mom, I kind of feel like the tree in the forest that falls and isn't sure anyone is around to hear it.

Half of the time, my son is gone, so my mothering is curtailed 50% of the time, so I feel like I only get part time practice at it.

I've remained an amateur and never became pro like all my friends.

Or, so the voices inside my head want me to think.

But, that isn't really true...those voices are convincing me of a lie.

Being divorced and having to watch your child leave every other weekend creates an unhealthy world that you and your children have to learn to navigate.

On one hand, when Cade leaves for 4 days, I could worry and focus solely on him in his absence, but that would create a stalled world inside of that produces high anxiety and wants to become highly controlling. That mindset is riddled with pitfalls, bitterness and self-absorption.

But, if I lean too far the other direction of letting go, and creating an entirely separate life when he is not around, then that road is riddled with too many compartments and separations. I'd start pulling away from him and he'd be more of a visitor than a son.

God didn't intend on divorce for countless reasons, and one being that the effects have tentacles like jellyfish. They seem to be immeasurable and seemingly invisible to many, but sting like hell and leave one afraid of the waters they wade in.

It's a world that requires redemption on a daily basis.

And as I navigate my world of being a single mom to a son, not having a mom of my own to bounce much off of nor a spouse to lean on, I find myself so often, walking and leading blindly in a world I myself am trying to figure out.

And even though I hate being (what I feel like to be) alone in the boat, it's forced my hand to lean further into God than I ever would have before.

It keeps me recognizing daily the gift of grace, the power of redemption, and my desperate need for God.

Though this road I’ve walked from anywhere of 5-15 years now has been a source of heartache and confusion, it's also been what God has used to show Himself to be very real in my life.

Tonight, all you moms, I want you to know that you matter.

You matter mom!

Even on the day you are no longer around, you will matter.

And even if your kids leave 50% of the time, like me, you matter.

When your kids are grown and gone, you will matter.

If you're tired and alone and not sure if you can change one more diaper or wake up at 2 am another time, YOU MATTER.

I know this because my mom died over 5 years ago, and there's not a day I don't reflect on something she did for me.

And even though she did so much, I know the most valuable and significant thing she did for me and my life, was pray.

My mom was a pray-er.

Which, looking at my life, one might say, "Um, Shelly, you aren't exactly the poster child for the 'prayers of a mom are powerful' speech because you didn't make the greatest of choices in your personal life, you're now divorced, still single, constantly confused and your heart is closed and numb."

And, you know, for a long time, I bought into that, wondered about that, yelled at God at how prayers obviously are a big fat waste of time.

But then, I can't deny the fact that the reason I'm sitting here, contemplating God is because my mom prayed.

I know I wrestle with God because my mom told me over and over again that Jesus loves me.

I know that no matter how lonely I am, there's a God my mom clung to in her darkest hours, and I watched Him work through her.

I know that no matter what I face, Jesus will walk me through it, because I watched her talk to Him as He walked with her even in her final hours.

You matter mom, because you are the one who introduces Jesus to your babies, to your daughters and sons, to your teenagers, and to your adult children who become your best friends.

They know Jesus because you interact with Him everyday.

With my parents, faith and God was just life. It wasn’t separate or something we did only on was just life. It intersected every area, it was who they were and are, and there was no separation. Jesus was part of our everyday.

So, tonight, I want to encourage you to make Jesus part of your everyday, and one of the best ways to do that is in prayer.

Pray with your child and for your child. I don’t always know how or what to pray, so I pray Bible verses over Cade or I will pray for what God knows he needs or just that God’s grace would overwhelm him and meet him right where he is.

We pray before baseball games, we pray at bedtime, before meals, when things are hard and when things are beautiful. We pray for others and we pray for ourselves.

And traveling through this road of divorce, Cade and I have had plenty of opportunities to pray. It's brought sweet conversations of God's love, His mercy, and provision that we would have never had without our circumstances, and I thank God that even through trial, He shows Himself incredibly faithful and real.

I've been able to see the fruit of prayer in my son's life. One day, last April, I had had a tough day at school. In fact, it was my mom's birthday. Usually that day is just fine, but for some reason this year, my heart hurt incredibly for her. All day I was moments from tears.

When I got in the car, Cade asked how my day was. I decided not to put on the tough mom act and was just honest. I started to tear up as I told him,  "honestly, I miss my mom today. Today it just hurts my heart that she isn't here."

Cade immediately reached his hand out to mine, bowed his head and began praying for me and over me.

It was one of the sweetest things I could have experienced.

I thanked God in that moment, for that moment, and it showed me that what I do as a mother matters to my son. God's goodness and faithfulness to both of us in that moment was amazing and I'll never forget that day. 

And though, as a divorced mom, Cade leaves me often, and I often feel like I am only a half mom, God has been showing me that’s the gift of prayer. I can lift my son up to the throne of God all the time.

There is no limit to my prayers, to God’s reach and His grace.

The greatest gift my mom gave me was her prayers, and that too will be my greatest gift I give to my child.

I can pray for him.

I can pray God’s grace would collide with his life, that he too will talk to God, walk with Him, wrestle through the hard stuff, and lay his life at the feet of Jesus.

My mom also taught me the significance of community and how to be a great friend.

I’m an introvert by nature. I have never been “the more the merrier” kind of girl. I’m a "small group of really good friends" kind of girl.

But my mom, she was a friend to countless. Her light shined and her smile brought joy to every room she entered. She never met a stranger and she became friends with all she encountered.

She was a good listener and spent time with people. She was willing to give hours to people. Time never seemed to be something she hoarded for herself. She gave it away, and at her funeral, when over 600 people gathered, I saw the impact of the time, the love, and the friendship she shared wherever she went.

And after my divorce, I knew there were many things I needed to change, and one was my approach to people and friendships. I had been living on the coattails of my parents’ community for my entire life. Because of who they were, I inherited a rich community full of people who loved me and who loved the Lord.

But, I couldn’t rely on that anymore. I needed to become my own. I had a son, and the gift they had given me, was the same gift I wanted to give to him. Their community had carried us through 2 bouts of cancer, years of sickness and moves and doctor visits and all things life brings your way. 

Their community had been the hands feet of Christ in my life and shown me Him in a very real way, and my parents had cultivated that because of who they were, and it was my turn to be that for Cade.

Community had sustained us when I was 9 when my mom got sick, to when at 31 we buried her, and I became single again.

Their prayers had covered me, their friendship had encouraged me, and their support had comforted me.

So, I became intentional about community. I changed churches. I had become anonymous in a such a large church, and I knew that anonymity isn’t healthy in too many areas of life, so I needed a new spot where people knew me, knew my son, and a place we became part of the fold.

I sought out friends...I mean really great, close friends that one can share details and worries, challenges and joys with.

I knew that my mom was surrounded by friends because she was a great one herself.

God laid a group of women on my heart and prompted me to invite them over.

So I did.

I invited them over, to my wee little house, and you know what...they all came. Each one. Not a single one left before midnight, and we all looked at each other amazed at how we felt like God had brought us together.

That was 2 years ago, and we still meet...only at my wee little house, around my table, and they are the ones who ask me when our next get together will be.

Those ladies have become my trusted friends...the ones I can text any time of day, when I'm crying, worried, had a rotten conversation, scared, feeling snarky, or have just seen a really cute man while roaming the museum in Chicago.

They encourage me, are an example to me, they pray for me, for Cade, and most importantly, we laugh. My therapy bills became non existent once I engaged and became honest and transparent with some godly women.

That’s God’s grace prompting the heart to step out; to believe that He’s with you, that He’s going to be faithful in your life.

Find a community, build a community, be a community.


I'll post the 3rd part Wednesday.

Praying this week is one fantastic week for all of you. May we love well and know that who we are and what we do matter!

In Him,

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