I have a critical spirit, one of the things that God laid on my heart to work on this year. It is so easy for me to see what is wrong, what needs to be fixed, how to solve a situation, or come up with a way out of a jam.... yet in the process I forget to enjoy all that is right. The beauty, the care, the passion, the compassion, the love and consideration that is behind most acts, thoughts, words and deeds.
I have been especially convicted about my critical spirit as it comes to fellow Christians. "I cannot believe they let their kids do....., " "I cannot believe they do not let their kids ........," "How can she call herself a Christian and do....." "Why would someone who is a Christian not do...." The thoughts and criticism can run like an endless tape in my head, a veritable proving ground for discontent, dissension and distraction. Christians are known for criticizing our fellow believers, dividing rather than unifying - and I am sure I have done my fair share to contribute to this stereo type. Please note, I am not talking about blatant errors or sin, the Bible is pretty clear on how these situations are to be handled.
Beth Moore, wrote so wisely in Praying God's Word Day by Day about and it hit home:
"Concentrating on the shortcomings of other Christians can cheat a Christian of truly enjoying the presence of God." p 44.
My mind can only handle one thing at the time, and why should I give up time and presence with God for the worries about someone else? For a situation that I have no say in, no impact on, no stake in? Rather, I ought to keep my focus on God, praying for my fellow believers.
When I focus on others, I have to take the focus of God and that is EXACTLY where the enemy would like me, my focus can be any other place. So when I criticize, analyze, judge another Christian - the enemy calls it a victory, MISSION COMPLETE! He knows the incredible power that comes with a focus on God - with God nothing is impossible.
This has been ruminating in my mind for a while. The power that my thoughts have, and how much control I have over these random, and at times dangerous thoughts. I have renewed resolve to keep my focus on God. Spending my time with God rather than on my critical thoughts, has been so sweet, so enjoyable. I am seeing a difference. No, I am still able to quickly judge, criticize or seize up a situation, but I am now aware of the danger, and try to bring my focus back on God. I do not need to be assisting the enemy in his attack, my mind is no longer in his army.
Monday, April 6, 2009
As I spend time with the women here in Honduras it is becoming so clear to me how little really truly differentiates us. Moms are Moms no matter where we live. My concerns for Lukas and Noah about their lives, their education, their health and their future is so similar to the ones of any Mom I meet here. Moms wants what is best for her children, and is willing to endure a lot to provide that, even if it means learning to read as an adult. Moms worry about how to feed their children. Mom spends time hugging and holding children.
I think about our living conditions, what we eat, and how to clothes the boys. I am constantly ruminating about their education, their future and how to prepare them for life. When they are sick, I want to give my left arm to heal them RIGHT NOW!
These Moms have the exact same thoughts. The only difference is:
When I think of where we live - I worry about our house, I am thinking of how clean it is, the amount of work it takes to keep it nice, how to make it feel like home for the boys and ways to ensure they have space to do 'their things.' I do not worry about keeping a roof over our heads, the bugs are not flying straight through openings and we have locked gates to keep friends in and foes out.
I think about what food we are eating, is is nutritious, is it varied, is it tasty? How can I come up with new ways to cook, new meals, exciting combinations to spice up our meals? My fellow Moms here are worried about getting food for their family.
I wash, sort and fold the clothes, making sure there are nice, clean and comfortable clothes to wear every day. If I do not wash today, we still have plenty of option for things to wear tomorrow, and our main problem is often: which shirt to wear. I concern myself with if the shirt match the pants, and if the shoes are appropriate for the outfit. My fellow Moms worry about having an outfit to put on their children - and shoes are often not even in the equation.
Bob and I are jointly schooling, providing a great support for me, and a fun shake up in the routine for the boys. We carefully packed educational materials for our time here in Honduras and when we are running short, the care package is only a few scant days away with more good books and learning tools. And, we have continual Internet access, so there is never a shortage of ways to educate. Yet, their education is often at the forefront of my mind, are we covering the 'right' things, are they learning 'what they need,' what are they missing, are they keeping pace with others their age. My fellow Moms worry about school period. Can they somehow find the money to buy school supplies, and uniforms. Can they afford not having the child helping out at home, or even worse helping to beg on the street in order to feed the family today?
I think about their future, what will the world look like when they grow up, how can I best prepare them for life in the world, what do they need to be ready? My fellow Moms are also thinking and worrying about the future, their horizon is simply a bit shorter - what will happen this week, this month. Can I provide for my child today.
When Lukas or Noah is sick, I bend down under the sink in our bathroom and pull out appropriate medicine to cure most of what ails them. If I do not have the right medicine, I can walk a few blocks to a local pharmacy and get it, and our personal health advisor Erin is only a phone call away. We even have Medi-evac insurance if something goes really wrong. My fellow Moms are just as worried about their little ones, they suffer through the fevers, the coughs, the wheezing lungs, the infected bites, the parasites. Despite limited education and information, Moms just know what is wrong with their babies, and these Moms are no exception. But, they most certainly do not have medicine under the bathroom sink - many do not even have a bathroom sink, the toilet is an outhouse and the washing takes place in the laundry, washing dishes, cleaning sink located outside. They may not be able to access medical care and pharmacies are bus rides away. Any Mom who has held a sick child waiting for the doctor's office to open, or for the medicine to arrive knows the horrid feeling in the gut...
There is so little differentiating me from these Moms, only God's amazing grace placed me where I am, in the family I grew up in, with the husband He prepared for me, and with the lovely family I have been blessed to care for.