Let’s do better: “Just wait until…”

Let’s do better: “Just wait until…”

“Just wait until college. That’s when the real hard work begins.”

“Just wait until you have a full-time job; it becomes so monotonous and annoying.”

“Just wait until you get married. You’ll see how hard it is!”

“Just wait until you’ve been married as long as I have; you won’t be excited to get home to your husband then!”

“Just wait until you have a kid; that’s when you really never get to sleep ever again!”

“Just wait until you have two kids.  One kid is a cakewalk compared to having two.”

If ever there was a way to strike unnecessary fear into the soul of a person, using the phrase “Just wait until” is it.  Let’s do better than this, fellow Christians.  I know we can do better.

My hunch: Any person who uses this phrase doesn’t even realize what the words are revealing about his or her own heart.

Let’s think about our motivation when we use these words. Allow me to ask a few rhetorical questions, will ya’?: When we use this phrase, what is our objective? Is it to tear down the other person? Is it to brag about how much more we deal with than the other person? Is it to give advice?

Friends, I’d like us to drop this phrase from our culture completely.  Consider this: Thessalonians 5.11 says “…encourage one another and build each other up…” (CSB).

I just want to really spell it out, here: This phrase used in this way is literally not an encouragement or help to anyone.  It is not a way to build up another person. It is exactly the opposite: A way of tearing others down–a way to deflate another person.

As Christians, we should be encouraging one another, cheering for one another. When we spit out these words under the guise of a warning or an attempt to advise another, we are not encouraging one another.

We. Just. Aren’t.

And consider this: In the third chapter of James, he says that the tongue “is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” used to “bless our Lord and Father” and “curse people who are made in God’s likeness” (James 3.8-9 CSB).

Fellow Christians, when we use this phrase in this manner, we are being a poison to the hearer.

Sheesh, Rebecca, that seems harsh.

Remember? I’m speaking to myself, too.

We are essentially telling others to trade the treasuring of this moment to the fearing of the future, to expect to be married to someone for decades without really even enjoying them, to view children as merely a nuisance, to refuse to see opportunities as gifts from God himself, to dread the upcoming stage of life instead of embracing it and leaning into Jesus Christ who has saved us from evil.

I don’t want this type of speaking to be my legacy.

I have a sneaking suspicion you don’t either.

Sistas, hear me!

Now, let me speak to my Christian Sisters for a sec, mmk?

I truly believe that, at every stage of life, there is someone younger than us who can learn from us.  We can teach our younger siblings (if we have any) just about anything when we’re kids; we can tutor elementary students when we’re in high school; we can lead outreach to high school students when we’re in college; we can minister to college students once we’ve graduated; we can coach engaged couples once we’re married; we can encourage newlyweds and new mothers after we’ve gone ahead of them and had these experiences.  I, myself, have participated in almost all of these endeavors and count myself blessed to have been mentored by sweet Christian women who I admire and aspire to emulate to this day. And I have a mentor who I meet with regularly who encourages me to see how Jesus is pushing me and growing me, even when I just want to vent and complain.

So, let’s be sure that we’re encouraging younger women properly–biblically. Titus chapter two says that older women (read: not just old ladies, here, but ladies who are older than some other woman, which is pretty much all of us) “are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, and in submission to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be slandered” (Titus 2.3-5 CSB).

Instead of teaching younger women to dread the challenges that can come with being part of a marriage, let’s encourage them to see the gift that a husband is and the joy that is experienced in treasuring that man exclusively for decades until death does them part.

Let’s encourage younger women to find professions that will not just provide the monetary needs of life, but help them serve the Lord–whether it’s in the work itself or in the ways she gets to minister to coworkers or even the ways she grows and becomes stronger in the faith through challenges that come with the job.

Let’s encourage younger women to see their children–current or future–as gifts instead of sleep-stealers or nuisances who ruin everything. And let’s encourage them to teach their children to love Jesus while we’re at it.

Let’s encourage women to experience the joy of giving their child one or more siblings, if they so choose, instead of selling a dooms-day gospel that everything will be terrible if they add a second child to the mix.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure there’s an equivalent message for men to encourage one another, too, but I am not in touch with how men speak to one another.  Ya’ know, being a woman.

I exhort you, fellow Christians, to join me and consider making these changes–and changes like them–to interactions with other believers:

“Just wait until college. That’s when the real hard work begins.”

College is a great time full of challenges and hard work. Just like any stage of life, make sure that your pursuit of Jesus continues during those years.”

“Just wait until you have a full-time job; it becomes so monotonous and annoying.”

“Yeah, I’ve been working for 12 years; I’ve been fortunate to always have a job that God uses to provide what I need and then some.  It’s important to be sure to find something you love doing and bring Jesus to work with you every day.”

“Just wait until you get married. You’ll see how hard it is!”

“Marriage is an unbelievable journey. It’s difficult to describe and, if you find a man who loves Jesus more than he loves you but loves you immensely in God-honoring ways, you should definitely take the opportunity to love and serve that man for the rest of your life!”

“Just wait until you’ve been married as long as I have; you won’t be excited to get home to your husband then!”

“Oh, you’re a newlywed and can’t wait to go home after work to see your husband? That’s so sweet and wonderful!  Keep loving him well and keep putting Christ at the center of your marriage.  A good marriage is a major blessing.”

“Just wait until you have a kid; that’s when you really never get to sleep ever again!”

“I really love my baby and I try to enjoy every moment that I can. I remember how frequently I learned more about God’s love for us when my baby was teensy weensy.”

“Just wait until you have two kids.  One kid is a cakewalk compared to having two.” 

Ha, I suggest we never say anything to anyone about having more children. But if they are close friends or the topic is at hand, you might get away with something like this, “There was a learning curve for us when we brought home baby number two, but there were so many sweet moments between my kiddos in those early days and I am glad I chose to focus on those when they were happening. Those moments were definitely gifts from God.”

Because when we use our words for God’s Good, The Gospel is strengthened.

Let’s Do Better: “Reasonable”

Let’s Do Better: “Reasonable”

I’m looking for [insert service or product or experience] at a reasonable price.

Raise your hand if you’ve seen or written something along these lines somewhere in your life.  *raises hand* We mean well.  We don’t want to waste money. As Christians, it’s wise to carefully spend our money–stewardship, we call it.  I’ve noticed a huge movement toward getting out of debt.  Have you? I’m definitely a part of this movement.  The Hunk and I are making progress despite what can feel like continual setbacks.  So, I’m in this boat: I want to save money.  Gosh, wasting money drives me mad.  Dang, the car needs a thousand dollar repair? Ugh. Wait, that repair did nothing to solve the situation? What the heck!?  Yes, I’ve experienced this.

But I want us Christians to check our hearts when we ask for a “reasonably priced” service or product or experience.

Think about it.  What does “reasonably priced” even mean?  I don’t recall anyone ever saying, “I’m looking for a [service or product or experience] where I can blow my money wastefully. Anyone know where I can find that?”

I guess what I’m asking here is this: Is it necessary to say “reasonably priced”? Or could we start to make it simple: “Our air conditioner just went out.  Anyone have any HVAC recommendations?” “We’re looking to remodel our kitchen. Anyone know someone who could do this for us?”

Not only should we do this in order to avoid stating the obvious–that we’re looking to save money–we should do this in order to respect the providers of services, products, and experiences.

Raise your hand if you have ever needed to earn money. *raises hand*

I suspect I’m not alone.

Now, I’m not saying we should go about our lives hiring and buying overpriced junk, hiring beginners at the price of the experienced, and overpaying for vacations. That’s simply an unwise way to steward our finances. Obviously.  Be diligent in finding ways to make the funds God generously provides go as far as possible.  But don’t shortchange the custom gown designer you seek for your special occasion. Let’s avoid skimping on the tip line when we’re at a restaurant.  We should stop expecting the HVAC servicer to be so cheap that he can’t feed his family at home.

We should look at our budget and find ways we’re wasting our money and put a stop to it.  And, man oh man, am I speaking to myself right now, too.  Don’t waste money. Spend money.  And respect others’ needs to support their families.

Matthew 7.12: Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

 

Broken. All of us are broken.

Guys, we’re broken. We. Are. Broken. And we’ve got to come to terms with it.

I had a hard conversation with a friend recently.  She’s going through the stuff.  Ugh. You know what I’m talking about.  And it all piled on too high, complete with two hospital stays in one week.  And we talked about how The Church has to be a safe haven for The Saints who need to recover. Who need to be made whole again. Who need restoration from the pains of the world.

Sure, the little things make us broken: breaking the speed limit, road rage, gossip, neglecting relationship with Christ, …things like that.  But we’re broken in serious ways that we, as The Church, have to acknowledge. The divorced woman who had to leave her abusive husband, the recovering alcoholic who may break at any moment, the girl who has all but left the church in favor of the party scene–these are the brothers and sisters who need to be embraced, loved, and cared for.

The good news: Not only are we broken–we’re grafted into Christ.

In Romans 11, Paul uses an analogy that speaks to this issue.  All of us are grafted into Christ if we believe in Him.  We, therefore, can draw everything we need from Him.  It’s not always quick.  But we can pull what we need from the shoot that is Christ.  Seek God for wisdom when helping the battered woman, the fallen brother or sister, the young couple struggling in their marriage.  We can pull from the shoot that is Christ when we need to get out of our rut, when we need the wisdom to fix our marriage, work for a simply terrible boss, recover from abuse of all sorts.

That, my friends, is good news if I’ve ever heard any.

 

What. A. Cool. Treatment.

My baby boy just loves to play with my watch.  It lights up, has a screen that is touch sensitive, and lights up when it thinks I’m looking at it; he’s just fascinated by it.

Last week, he dug his thumb under it a few times.  Wowee! That hurt! Mamma needed to clip those nails.  So I did.  He got a nail clipping that evening at bed time.

When I took a shower a few days ago, I noticed a sizable gash in my arm.  Ya’ know, under my watch. And, it was infected.  Like, mondo, mega-infected.  I didn’t even realize The Little Hunk had ripped apart my skin.  It was a surface scratch, I’d thought.  But, it wasn’t.  So, I grabbed our Neosporin and a Band-Aid and treated it post-shower.  Sidenote: If you’re going to put a Band-Aid on your arm, be sure to shave off that arm hair first–especially if you ever want to remove said band-aid.

Anyway, for a few days, I repeated this treatment until the infection had subsided.  And now there’s a simple scab under my watch.

Gosh, what a mega-reminder of our real-world problems, eh?  Like, we barely realize that we have this problem: We’re broken, imperfect, failing, and messing up all the time.  We just don’t recognize it because the rest of life is over-top of it; we don’t see it.  We recognize pain, but the source–we just don’t recognize that the source is deep within us.

Unlike my treatment of the infected gash, Jesus’ treatment of our inherent ineptness is perfect.  He died once and doesn’t have to do it again.  He came back to life to defeat death (so we don’t have to die eternally) and we live forever.

I know it’s a sort of cliche verse, but it rings true.  John 3.16 says that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus (his only son–who died and raised from the grave, by the way) so that we can live eternally.  What. A. Cool. Treatment.

I’ll take that every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  But I only need it once.

I Almost Died

I almost died.I’m going out on a limb here.  I don’t know how to confirm this, but I’m willing to bet that most of us haven’t had a near-death experience.  I’m not talking “that almost-car-wreck could have ended my life,” or “that nearly scared the livin’ daylights out of me” moments. I’m talking about those times when you can legitimately say, “I almost died.” Like, medically speaking, you almost died.

But I have.

For the sake of my own privacy, I’m going to spare you the details of my near-death experience.  I almost died.  But suffice it to say this: 1) I have legitimate, undeniable proof that I do not cuss.  2) It’s good to know that I turn to Jesus when my actual life is in danger. 3) That was the most pain I could ever imagine experiencing in my life.

Sorry if that’s not enough information for ya.  But really, #sorrynotsorry.

But there aren’t words that quite explain how a person’s life changes after this happens.  It’s true.  Sometimes people make immediate drastic changes to their own lives.  I’ve heard of this happening after someone survives a massive heart attack. They change their diet, their jobs, their stress management techniques.

Here’s my thing, though: I want to spend my life instead of letting life spend me.  Spend my life watching my kiddo grow up.  Spend my life getting old with The Hunk.  Spend my time working to be spiritually healthy.  Spend my energy making healthy physical choices.  Spend some time creating pretty things. Spend dinner time eating foods I won’t regret. Spending time making memories and capturing them.

And that means I don’t want to pour my life out wastefully.  I don’t want to waste my energy on things that aren’t building up something: like working with people who are selfish or abusive, or arguing about something with a stranger, or allowing someone to speak into my life if they are toxic.

My mom always said we’re not promised tomorrow.  It’s a scary thought, but it’s a terrifying reality.

So, now I’m on a mission: Honor the Lord, love my little family, practice gratitude, and be kind to myself.

Will you join me? How are you living a life on a mission?

Book Recommendation: Love and Respect

Love and Respect

When I think back to when The Hunk and I were dating, I know that, without a doubt, the best decision we made as a couple was reading Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Neither of us had previously experienced successful romantic relationships but we hadn’t failed miserably at being decent human beings.  We had friends and served Jesus.  But I’m telling you, for real, this book changed us. It changed how we related to one another, how we treated one another, and how we interpreted the way we were being treated. I highly recommend this book with the following single disclaimer.

 

Skim the first third of the book.

Seriously.  Have you ever read a book about improving your life before? It seems like all of them start out convincing you to buy the book.  The very book you have in your hands. I’m sure they have their reasons for writing it this way, but I was sold before I started reading it.  If you’re not, maybe read a bit and then start skimming as you become convinced.

Otherwise, this book is based on two things: scientific research and the Bible.  In fact, scientific research has been done to support the Bible.  Ephesians 5.33 says, “To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” To some, this is a polarizing verse.  But the book definitely flushes it out.  Eggerichs explains how his research proves that the majority of men would rather be respected than loved and the majority of women would choose being loved over respected.  What he is clear to say is that this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love our husbands or that we shouldn’t respect our wives.  He also flushes out what “respect” means and how it should be as unconditional as love is.

The second third and the last portion of the book reviews some practical ways to implement love and respect in a relationship.  This is, perhaps, the section of the book that a couple could read together and discuss.  I wish we’d start doing this earlier in the book, but we still benefited greatly from having an unstructured discussion on these two sections of the book.

After you read the book and realize its impact on your view of healthy relationships, go ahead and check out the Love and Respect Ministries.  If you’re single, check out Love and Respect NOW, a sister ministry which, as you might have guessed, is great for people who are not in a romantic relationship but would still like to learn about these principles–I mean, I wish I’d known about Love and Respect much earlier in my life.

Interested in purchasing the book? Consider using this affiliate link to make your purchase: Love and Respect