I’ve been struggling to write this post for over six months, and here it comes now- I just need to be out with it. I find myself rooted like some stubborn turnip to this spot and in order to move on, I’ve got to do it.
I can’t ever seem to start it right- to hook the reader in, to explain my aim- so I erase and delete, scribble and mark out.
So I shall just dive in, gulp of air, and breathe out what has been in my heart for so long.
I am not a ‘good’ Christian.
I am not a ‘good’ mama.
I am not a ‘good’ wife.
I do not line up with the definitions.
I came from a fractured, broken spiritual journey bouncing from church to church every other year for years on end. My journey with Christ is still so many shards of beautiful glass.
I came from a broken home. My home is broken still.
I came from a broken heart. My heart breaks still.
I breathe in the grace-air and I wonder at it all. Such grace that I am here, that He loves me so much (that He loves you so much, too, friend)- this dreadful, terrifying place of belief, of journey. How amazed I am that new skin grows where the old scars slough off, that I breathe and move, when every time it happens I am sure that my inner heart will stop cold, the pain so unbearable as to steal breath away.
And, I know that I am not alone. I am not unique in my struggles and failures, my journey of brokenness and pain, healing and hope.
As much as I dearly love my online community. As much as I dearly love my church home. As much as I dearly love my fellow journey goers on the path of Christ….
I must stuff my ears and stop the madness.
The dangerous falsehoods that linger, waiting to attack, in the shroud of ‘good’. This is what a ‘good wife’ is. This is what a ‘good mama’ is. Here, let me list out all the prooftexts out of context to wrap around your neck like so many stones waiting to pull you under the water, that crush larynx, cut off breath. That leave your home in wreckage and refuse of a thousand undone expectations.
As some have noted, I was ‘raised in the church’ and home schooled, too. Somehow, because of this, I am supposed to be immune to the travails of this world. Where did this dreadful assumption come from? It is rank in the homeschool arena, that somehow, someway, if parents as teachers, parents as disciplers of their children, if they follow formula a.b.c.-their kids will turn out perfect, fine, well-rounded, well-balanced adults with a strong and vibrant faith. This dreadful assumption that if we can just get it right- we can somehow save our children.
I am not immune.
I am not ‘good’.
My parents could not save me, anymore than they could save themselves.
And here too, I see the model of womanhood traipsed before me like a goody-two-shoes Mrs. America high on religion. A good woman will be so and so and such and such, and again, this dreadful assumption that somehow if the kitchen is spotless, if I rise before the dawn, if my children are well behaved (at least, in public), if I’ve read my allotted Bible reading for the day and said my perfunctory prayers, that somehow I am ‘good’.
But if my faith is dead behind that dreadful facade, how can I be ‘good’?
Lest I be misunderstood, God is good.
But me, broken clay, troubled spirit- I am not good.
I don’t like roughing the waters, I don’t like dark things, I don’t like being contrary. But I feel like I’ve got to say this or I’ll die somewhere inside.
These grievous, dastardly, misbegotten definitions of ‘good’ are doing more damage for the Enemy that most believers could ever fathom.
If I abide by the current Christian cultural standards of what a good homekeeper/mama/wife is, I would be ‘good’, yes. But I would not be doing what God called me to do. And I would be spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically unhealthy.
And the most galling part about it all- some of those very things that do, so-called, make me ‘good’- they happen out of a natural outpouring of chasing after God. They are an after-thought to the real relationship with my Lord. But they are not my relationship with God. That our family of believers has gotten this so confused, that I have gotten this so confused, so very many times, should cause us great sorrow.
That we’ve started to use this ‘good’ as a benchmark, and worse, that we would even presume to judge another’s journey with the Lord based on this crooked yard stick, Lord have mercy.
I am not saying, in return, that you or I have a free pass to do whatever the heck we want because all those definitions of ‘good’, spoken by broken human mouths, are perverted. We still have a responsibility before God to follow His commands, to breathe Love and Grace, as He has breathed love and grace upon us, to live the essence of the Gospel as best as we can, with God’s help. But we must do this with a realization that we will never be ‘good’. We will never be ‘good enough’. The law of the Lord is perfect, but we on our own will never accomplish it, for if we fail in one small way, we have failed the whole of it. But we have a great Hope that we seem too often to forget in the nitty gritty, jot and tittle reality of our lives. We have Christ, and Christ crucified- He died that we might Live in glorious freedom, law fulfilled. We are the Easter people. How can we forget?
I have been crushed under this weight for a while, and my husband finally said “enough”. I did not have the power to stop the addiction on my own. The addiction to ‘good’. To some illegitimate definition of good, the offspring of the Enemy.
It has been a harder journey than I ever could have thought.
This ‘good’ definition sits like an evil sprite on my shoulder every time I make a decision that is not ‘good’ by our current Christian standard. It torments me more than I would like to admit to, and so often I have had to call those I trust who remind me that while my hearth and home may not be the definition of ‘good’ by human standards, God is greater, far larger, than my biggest failings and He looks on my innermost being. He will know if I loved my husband and children well, if I led my children in faith as best as I knew how, if I followed his commands. He’s seen every undone task, every dirty load of laundry, every crunchy floor, every paper plate and frozen meal, every choice I have ever made. Only He knows if I made those choices for His glory or for my own. I am not a ‘good’ parent. But He is. And when I stumble, when my kids stumble, no matter what, He is there. He didn’t promise a life of ease, a perfect definition of ‘good’. But He did promise that He would be with us. Emmanuel.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
We WILL NOT serve ‘good’.
There is a vast difference.