May 21, 2006
May 15, 2006 – My Mother’s Day Message
How was your Mother's Day? I hope it was better than mine. I'm actually writing this journal entry the day after Mother's Day. I usually wait 'til the end of the week but I'm in California all week for my brother's wedding and I knew today would be the only chunk of downtime I would have.
As I was saying, my Mother's Day was less than stellar. But last year's was fabulous so I'm choosing to simply skip this year and relive last year. I spoke at my home church over the weekend, which was truly a privilege. I don't usually speak on Mother's Day because I don't want to be away from my family and I really don't want to throw away the one day a year I can enjoy guilt-free pampering. But, since this was my home church and I was so honored to be asked, I accepted. Little did I know that God would have much he wanted to teach me personally through this particular speaking engagement.
It began over a week ago when I had the bright idea to start the message with a performance by our "family band." My idea was to show slide pictures of my kids, then home videos of them reading their Bibles and singing little praise songs when they were tiny. Then I would introduce them personally and I would sing and they would play the praise chorus, "Sing to the King."
From there I planned to spend the rest of the message dismantling this image of the perfect family I had just created. I would start with showing some home videos of my children fighting and screaming and acting like, well, children. Then I would proceed to talk about some of the struggles we are facing with them as teenagers and how every child's strength has an accompanying weakness.
My desire was to remind moms that the notion of the perfect family is a myth, relatively easy to create, but never what as it appears on the surface. I was thinking of titling the message, "Mother's Day – A Behind-the-Scenes Expose." My heart goes out to moms like me who struggle with guilt because they think there is such a thing as a perfect family and if they were better mothers then they would have children who pursued righteousness in their hearts, peace with their siblings, and love and respect for their parents. Somehow, it has to be our fault, as the mom, if this isn’t the case.
I would end the message exhorting moms that through the trials of rearing children in this day and age, the only real peace will come by trusting God with our children. Two of my most comforting scriptures are Isaiah 54:13 and 2 Timothy 1:12.
"All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children'
"I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
I was very excited about this message because I felt it also tied in perfectly with the current teaching series our pastor had been bringing the last few weeks entitled, "In God We Trust."
So, I jumped in to put this all together before I left on my trip to New York. I knew that the week before the Mother's Day weekend would be too crazy to prepare. So, I got as much accomplished ahead of time as possible. I wrote the outline, hired the student pastor worship leader to work with our family on the song, bought the kids new outfits to wear, and even taped a local radio interview that was to be aired the Thursday before the big weekend talking about our "Partridge Family Band" sans the velvet dress, ruffled shirt, or knee-high boots. The kids told all of their friends, Tucker changed his flight to get back from his tour with Tommy Walker on time, and my mother was planning to change her flight to Los Angeles so she could stay to watch us.
Everything was set in motion and I left for New York on Monday morning. I arrived in New York, went to dinner, then back to the hotel to have my friend, Michele, touch up my roots. While she was making me look like an alien attempting to connect with another planet via tin foil, I checked my email. Imagine my shock when I received an email from the church explaining that during staff meeting, they decided that everything looked great on the outline but they didn’t feel comfortable with the whole 'family band thing,' so if I could just cut that, it would all be fine.
What?! That was the whole catalyst for the message. Without the "image" of the perfect family there was no sense in dismantling the myth. I was shocked so, as calmly as I could, I picked up the phone and called my friend at the church that relayed the invitation to speak in the first place.
I never could quite figure out the explanation for the decision. Something about too many elements and not having heard us perform before, but the bottom line was, the collective consensus was nobody felt comfortable with that part of the outline. He recommended I simply remove that portion and proceed with the rest as planned.
After appealing as respectfully as possible, I hung up to figure out how I was going to process this late-breaking news. At first, I was angry – don't they trust me? Then I was disappointed – my kids will be crushed. Then my pride was wounded – do they think we would embarrass ourselves and them in the process? Then I was overwhelmed –I don't have any time to come up with something else before Saturday!
My mind started racing. Who can I call? Should I call the student worship leader and ask him to vouch for us that we could pull this off? Should I call a closer friend on staff and ask him to see if they would reconsider? Should I go straight to the top and try to explain why I couldn't simply remove that element of the message?
Instead, I hopped in the shower to rinse out all of the extraterrestrial message conduit/bleach and prayed. God showed up and showed me in no uncertain terms that if I took over and did anything other than submit to the authority I had placed myself under of spiritual leadership then I could end up with an Isaac/Ishmael situation, with unblessed consequences of my own making.
It was very difficult not to jump into the situation and do whatever I could (you know, control, manipulate, persuade, convince, etc…) to try to "fix" this problem. At the same time, I could sense that if I passed this test it would be Faithbook-worthy. I just knew in my heart that I was to trust God and not rely on my own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 is my life verse, and yet, I sometimes struggle with trying to accomplish my will in my own strength. I really wanted to show God that I could depend on Him. Either this really was His will and He really was sparing us from embarrassing ourselves, or some other undesirable outcome, or it was up to Him resurrect the plan.
I got out of the shower with a disappointed peace and a resolve to do nothing but wait on Him for the next move. Now, it was time to tell my brain that. I was up all night, tossing and turning, worried sick about what I was going to speak about on Sunday. I didn't have anything else planned, I really couldn’t simply eliminate the family band element, I was looking at two long, full days of nonstop interviews, and I had to give the church a title for my message the next morning so they could begin working on the bulletin.
Five hours later, (remember last week's journal entry and my chagrin over visiting the City That Never Sleeps) it was time to get hair and make-up for the Today Show. I called the church and gave them the title, "Taking Care of the 'Me' in Mommy." Focus On The Family had asked me a couple of weeks before to tape a message about my book so they could play it on the radio show. I had originally thought Mother's Day would be a perfect opportunity to "kill two birds with one stone" but later shelved the idea because I felt there was greater potential for ministry with the "Mythbuster" message.
Maybe this was what God had in mind all along. I tried to put this all in the back of my mind and concentrate on why I was in NYC in the first place – the Facts of Life DVD release. After two crazy days of interviews I flew home on Wednesday night. The next day was my only day to write a message for the upcoming weekend. I took Haven to get her braces off in the morning and then I dropped both girls off at Six Flags for Homeschool Day with their friends.
I found a nearby Starbucks and camped out there for six hours until it was time to pick them up again. No matter how much coffee I drank, I was still "blocked." I think it was a mixture of panic, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, and the guy next to me. Whatever the reason, I couldn't come up with a way to talk about taking care of the Me in Mommy without it sounding like one giant commercial for my book.
So, I tossed that idea out the window, figuring I'll record something for Focus at another time, and eventually came up with a message I felt good about. I would talk about two lessons I had personally learned. One, the importance of "filling up" with Jesus everyday. Second, the story about getting my Mouseketeer ears back and God's trustworthiness when we store up our treasures in heaven. (Because this was to be the last message in a series on giving leading up to the first offering for our new building and camp facility.)
The next day, Friday, I flew to Pensacola, Florida, where I spoke that evening and two times on Saturday morning. Steve and I then rushed to the airport to catch a plane back to Dallas. I took a cab to the church while Steve waiting for the luggage. My friend, Missi, met me at the church with my children and my clothes. I changed, had a quick sound check, and walked onto the stage without ever having time to even say hello to our pastor.
I walked off the stage, into the book store to sign books, immediately back onto the stage for the second service and right back to the book store again. By the time I finished signing books, most everyone had gone home. Which meant that the only time I had even seen my pastor was when I handed off the platform to him to close the service.
You can imagine what a field day the enemy had with my mind and heart. Although, my sweet husband and dear friends told me I did a good job, I really didn't receive much feedback from anyone else. Not that there had really been any time or opportunity. Of course, I interpreted that lack of affirmation as me having done a terrible job and everyone being disappointed in me.
I was worried that my message was too short, although I had been told no more than 30 minutes. I was afraid that I hadn't spoken enough on the theme; maybe they didn't want me to talk about money. My earring was dangling and messed up the audio. I forgot one section of my message on the service they used for the video. And, on and on and on.
I went home worn out, beaten down and straight to bed. The next morning I got up early because I knew I just had to connect with Jesus. I sat alone with my coffee and just wept. (Which, because of my particular temperament, I only do about once-a-year.) I had to wrestle through doubt, fear, and whether my motivation was to please God or man. I had to honestly admit that even if God was happy, and even if the 20,000 people who attend Fellowship Church on any given weekend were blessed, the truth was, I still needed to hear that my pastors thought I had done a good job. Right or wrong, that was what I was feeling.
I spoke two more times on Sunday morning, which went much better. Someone told Steve that our pastor had been overheard saying that he liked hearing someone else talk about money other than himself. Steve said, "Oh, please go tell Lisa that because she is so worried that he was upset with how she did last night." Well, obviously, someone got wind about this and people started coming out of the woodwork telling me I did a good job. Now, I felt like a giant, incredibly insecure, whine bag. (But I did feel better.)
At the end of the day, I had learned a few life-changing lessons that made the inner turmoil worth it. First of all, it was 100% the right decision not to attempt the family band thing. The church staff was definitely hearing from God on that one! There was every chance that we could have humiliated ourselves but it was pretty much a given that we would have completely stressed ourselves out trying to rush from the airport, practice one last time during sound check, and sing on pitch with a tummy full of knotted nerves. I'm so glad I trusted God and submitted to my spiritual covering.
I also learned the power of affirmation. When I walked off the stage after the last service I received a note from the pastor saying I had done an "awesome job." At this point, I was drained physically and emotionally, but those words alone buoyed my spirit enough to put the weekend behind me and feel good about it. I purposed in my heart to be much more intentional with my words of praise, affirmation, and blessings, especially to those who are under my umbrella of influence.
I didn't blame anyone for not giving me an "attaboy." For goodness sakes, I was either on stage or signing books just about the whole time I was there. There really wasn't much of an opportunity. Besides, I'm sure everyone thought I had "known" that I had done a good job. Or, perhaps, they figured that I do this all the time so I didn't need to hear it. I've spoken thousands of times, in front of millions of people, and I still want to feel like the people I care about, like me.
We aren't wimps because we need to be noticed, we are human. I've known since I was a teenager that exhortation was my spiritual gift. For some reason, that always seemed like one of the more "shallow," less spiritual gifts. I don't feel that way anymore.
So, let me just take this opportunity to tell you that although I may not know you, I like you. I'm impressed with you. How can I say that? Well, for one thing, you wouldn't have read all the way through this novel of a journal entry if you didn't A: like me, too, and B: have a heart that seeks after God. Those two qualifications alone tell me that we could be good friends. Besides, without any parameters, God created you and He loves you, so I can be pretty confident that you are one remarkable person. I hope you know that.
Posted by weblion at 01:57 PM