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01 August

Is it Really Worth It?

A fellow PW sent us this post as an anonymous submission. 

Jennifer sat down with the pastor to discuss plans for her mother's funeral. Elizabeth had lived a long life of service to her Lord, church, and numerous other churches as she grew in popularity as a women's minister. It seemed everywhere Jennifer went she was recognized as being Elizabeth's daughter and praised because of it. 

"You are so lucky to have Elizabeth as a mom, she is such a Godly woman."
"Your mom is the reason I'm saved."
"Elizabeth was always there for me, she gave me the strength to go on after my husband left me."

Jennifer didn't share the fond memories that those outside of her home did, for the mother she knew was rarely home. The family photo albums showed Elizabeth with numerous strangers but not with her children. Her four daughters don't have the memories they wished for or the relationship with their mother that they'd craved.

From outside everyone thought they were the perfect family, but appearances were more important than making memories. 

When Jennifer's pastor shared this with us at a ministry dinner, my heart broke for her and her three sisters. While Elizabeth was doing the Lord's work her family suffered. While Elizabeth concerned herself with how she looked, she never gave thought to how left out her children felt. Sure, they were surrounded by people all the time, but the one they needed was their mom.

I don't think this is how it is supposed to be. Ministry wives aren't Stepford Wives. We shouldn't be put into a mold and be made to conform to unrealistic expectations of people who truly do not care for us in the same way our family does. 

What Jennifer and her sisters needed was a mom who wasn't afraid to get dirty and have fun instead of a mother who plastered on a smile anytime she left the house no matter how deep the hurt or frustration.

If your children see a different person at home than they do at church, there might be a problem. Don't be afraid to be real. More people will be able to relate to you in your bad days than if you're faking it. The world needs real Christians. People who aren't afraid to take off the mask and admit that life is hard. The church needs strong women who face the difficulties of life and are able to show it. Don't be afraid when your screaming toddler throws a fit in the fellowship hall. Other mothers are watching to see how you discipline. Your child gets kicked out of school? Someone can relate to you. Sometimes we are more effective in the middle of our mess than when everything goes as planned.

Jennifer is estranged from church at this time. She wants nothing to do with what she feels stole her mother from her. 

It didn't have to be this way. 

If Elizabeth had spent more time at home with her children instead of doing church work, I'm sure this story would have had a different outcome. I'm not sure if she would think the loss of relationship with her children was worth what she paid. Sometimes, when we're in the middle of what we think we should be doing, it's hard to see what's right in front of us. Your family needs you more than people at the church do. There is always time for ministry, but you've only got your kids for a little while. Make sure they know their importance in your life. All the accolades in the world can't stand up to how much you matter in the life of your child.

A the end of your life journey it won't matter who put you on a pedestal--they likely won't be around. Your family will ache for you and for what they'll miss. Don't make them ache out of bitterness and regret. Be there for them today. It passes too quickly. 

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