Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September's Devotional

by Abbey Gropp

A few weeks ago I came across an interesting post on Gillian Blogs entitled, "World's Okayest Mom".  The author Gillian explained how she recently saw a coffee cup that read "World's Okayest Mom" and how this gave her a laugh but also got her to thinking.  Mom life is extremely demanding (kids, homes, spouses, friends, work) but beyond those pressures, we also put a lot of demands on ourselves by comparing ourselves to other moms.  (You know... organic mom, fitness mom, scripture memory mom, love-spending-every-minute-with-my-kids mom.)  Gillian goes on to say that we also compare ourselves to our own ideals of motherhood.  She challenges us to stop comparing, count our blessings, and realize that we are OKAY.  Our kids are okay, and our families are okay. (coffee mug photo source)

After reading this post I started thinking about Anderson MOPS.  I hope and pray that it is a place where moms can come and feel cherished just as they are as the "World's Okayest Mom".  That when moms walk in, they don't feel like they are expected to be the World's Best Mom or World's Prettiest Mom or Most Spiritual Mom or Most Patient Mom.  This year, MOPS' theme is A FIERCE FLOURISHING.  In order for all of us to flourish fiercely this year, I believe there are 3 steps we need to take:

#1)  NO COMPARISONS.

Galatians 6:4-5 says "Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don't be impressed with yourself.  Don't compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life."  (The Message translation)  The thing I've figured out about comparing ourselves to others is that it leads down one of two roads.  We can compare ourselves to others and feel like we don't measure up... which leads to discontent, insecurity and bitterness.  Or, we can decide that others don't measure up to us... which leads to pride, arrogance and becoming Judgy McJudgerson.  Either way, it's a dead end street.

Now I'll be honest.  I'm not the youngest gal around and one benefit of my foray into middle age is that over the years I've learned to be aware of the trap that is comparing ourselves to others.  I don't always escape it, but I know it's there.  However, I've just realized recently that I spend an awful lot of time comparing myself to this one amazing individual.  And let me tell you, you would love her... 

She is the most patient, loving and attentive mother you will ever meet.  She never would lose her cool, scream at her beloved offspring, let them rot their brains with hours of screen time, or play solitaire on her phone while her children need her.  She is purposeful and makes the most of every second of every day, never wasting time.  Her home is clean and organized and decorated like the best of HGTV.  She is disciplined and always makes time for exercise... and you can tell by that hot bod.  (In fact, I think she can eat whatever she wants and actually lose weight!)  She looks great, showers regularly, dresses fashionably, and is enthusiastically ready to satisfy her husband's every need.  She is a great and caring friend, never thinks a judgmental thought, and oozes compassion, selflessness and Godliness.  She never misses a quiet time, always wants to read her Bible, always seeks the Lord's will, and in heaven she'll probably be hanging out with Mother Teresa and the Proverbs 31 chick.

Yes, this is Imaginary Abbey.  And the problem I have with comparing myself to some imaginary ideal is that I never measure up to this perfection.  EVER.  Which leads to my next point...

#2)  GIVE GRACE.

From my journal, dated 1-29-15:

"I feel like I am failing.  No, it's worse, I know I am failing.  Every day.  I am constantly failing.  As a mother.  As a wife.  Housekeeper, friend, human, Christian.  At best I am falling short... at worst I am totally ruining my children.  The list is long & the sickening burden of failure is so so heavy.  I feel like who I am is so far from who I want to be.  But who do I want to be?  The problem is that I want to be perfect.  I think I should be perfect.  Why?  I don't expect anyone else to be perfect.  No one expects me to be perfect.  God doesn't expect me to be perfect. (Thank you Lord!)  I need GRACE.  Grace is the antidote to perfection.  I need to grab on to grace, to believe it, accept it, & learn to revel in the freedom it offers... because surely God's grace is enough.  Enough to cover me & carry me & lift this burden of failure and perfection.  So I pray that God will help me & I claim His grace.  I'm ready to travel through this world a little lighter."

2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God's grace is sufficient for us... and that is the good news.  The very best news!  We don't have to be perfect.  We don't have to fear failure.  We have GRACE.  Unlimited grace to receive for ourselves and to give to others.  With God's help we can become "Grace-Givers".  And how does one become a Grace-Giver?

#3)  ACCEPT WHO WE & OTHERS ARE AS GOD'S MASTERPIECES.

What if I told you that I'd been working on a painting for 20 years?  That I'd been pouring my heart and soul and all my creative energy into one work of art.  And that I'd finally completed my masterpiece, my life's work, and that I wanted you to see it.  Wouldn't it be a shock if when I unveiled it, it looked exactly like the Mona Lisa? (photo source) 

While in one sense it would be impressive if I could paint like Leonardo da Vinci, overall it would be a disappointment.  It would mean that I spent my whole life copying someone else's masterpiece.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 we are told, "God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (New Living Translation)  This means that each of us are the handiwork of the Divine Artist.  He made each of us a masterpiece... designed with purpose, gifting and individuality.  His intent was not for us to spend our lives copying or comparing ourselves to others or to some invented ideal we've created in our minds.  We are God's masterpieces, each one of us.  And for me, this means that I give myself grace that I am not the World's Best Mom... I embrace that I am the World's Okayest Mom and the World's Best Abbey Gropp.  (It's true for you too, just take my name out and insert yours after World's Best.)


When we do these 3 things, we can begin to Flourish Fiercely and engage in the 3 elements of our theme.  We can CELEBRATE LAVISHLY because we are not comparing ourselves to others (real or ideal) but embracing that we are the World's Okayest Moms.  We can see the beauty in who we are & where we are right now, and celebrate others as God's masterpieces too.  Once we start giving grace, it becomes natural to EMBRACE REST.  We understand that the world will not stop spinning if we peace out and take a nap, or do something else that breathes a little life into our weary souls.  Give yourself the grace to rest.  Lastly, we will NOTICE GOODNESS when we're not so caught up in trying to be perfect.  Goodness and blessings are all around us, but if we're focused on perfection all we will see are shortcomings.  And we miss out on so very much! 

So here's to the World's Okayest Moms!  May you flourish fiercely this year!!!


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