I may have gotten in one of the dumbest arguments ever with my husband last night. I’ll spare you the details, but we argued over who watered the ferns last summer. Yes, you read that correctly, insert monkey covering his eyes emoji here!
We’re almost finished with our most recent study Jesus, I Need You this semester and the Lord has opened my eyes greatly to the deep rooted unbelief that’s still in my heart and the idolatry of myself. I am thankful. I need to say that again for my own heart to remember—I am thankful. I’m thankful to see the ugliness in my heart, because it reminds me of the truth, that apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15).
About a year ago I was in small group going through the Falling In Love Again With Your Husband study and confessing to my small group that I didn’t want to submit to my husband and wash off the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher because the dishes get clean either way. Most nights my husband won’t know that I’ve done what he’s asked or not. My Abigail said to me, “But God knows.” I brushed it off, “yea, yea, I know, but I want my husband to notice, I want him to know that I’m sacrificing for him, so that he can thank me/praise me for it” is what I thought to myself.
As I’ve gone through our current study I keep being reminded of that brief few minutes in small group over a year ago. Last night I fought to the death over the fact that I watered the ferns last summer. I hated the thought of my husband taking credit for something that I did. As I thought more about why in the world I would argue about something so insignificant I realized my fear of not being seen, noticed, being lost in a sense, was appearing to become a reality as my husband didn’t see something that I took time to do every other day. My fears of not being known, no one caring, all came crashing in on my mind and so I fought about who watered the ferns in an effort to say “see me,” “praise me,” “love me.”
Side note before I continue on—my husband loves me dearly. I know this. He sees me and he does appreciate me, but I was seeking something from him that night that he was never meant to have to fill for me. And if I’m being totally honest here, I think he watered the ferns more than me, insert two emojis of monkeys covering their eyes here. What a gift even an argument over watering ferns can be when it opens my eyes to deep unbelief in the One who loves me perfectly and draws me nearer to Him in the process.
Going back to my Abigail’s comment about God knowing I started to wonder why that wasn’t a bigger deal to me. Why do I feel like I always need to cross off a to-do list, accomplish, produce? A recent question in our Jesus, I Need You study was something along the lines of what is my primary goal each day? I answered with crossing off a to-do list. If I don’t accomplish something or have something to show for my day then there’s not even an option of being recognized. I see my flesh yearning to be seen and praised so that it can feel pacified, at peace for the moment in another humans’ acknowledgment. This leads to unrealistic expectations placed on my husband and inevitably my children later. This leads to disappointment if something isn’t noticed or hurt feelings when I have to bring attention to myself and shame when I feel like I’m “fishing” for a compliment. I see my selfishness as I’m focused on myself, seeking peace, comfort, love, approval, rest, in all the wrong places and the unbelief as I choose to not believe that there’s a real person this can be found in.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray…” (Isaiah 53:6). This verse has been in our kitchen all month, right in front of my face each day at lunch time as I practice it with my son. Oh how quickly my feelings can lead me astray and justify the way I feel, justify the silly arguments and the things I feel I “need.” Even far enough astray to see the truth right in front of me in my kitchen, but not have ears to hear this truth and see the reality of myself as a sheep.
Sadly the argument about who watered the ferns went into the morning as I just let my feelings and lies in my mind spiral farther and farther down into my deep idolatry of self—woe is me, I’m not loved, no one cares what I do, I’m not appreciated. I was lost in my own head.
I prayed to the Lord telling Him how lost I felt. That was the first time I’d even verbalized feeling lost, which I believe was His grace in and of itself. The parable of the lost sheep came to mind.
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So he told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:1-7).
Over the past 20 months of motherhood thus far I’ve had more opportunities to not be recognized. I come from the business world where goals are set, goals are met and then praised. Now, I could easily go a whole day, a whole week, and have nothing to show for it. I’ve fought this reality, but the Lord is allowing me to see that this is truly a gift. I believe the Lord said to me the other day, “I don’t show you your sin so that you can do better, I show you your sin so that you can love me more.” It’s a gift to lean on Him and learn to love Him more. It allows me to ask the question and really seek what the truth is about how God sees me, what He thinks in moments that no one else will ever see, let alone praise. He’s giving me desire to draw nearer to Him, to thirst of Him, my true love. It allows me by His grace to put what I say I believe into practice. What will I choose to believe when I feel lost and unnoticed? Whose words will matter more?
I’ve been so convicted over my self-focus towards my family and those in my life. I constantly feel feelings of “they have no idea how much I already do.” My initial thoughts about that are to say “ok how do I fix this? I will serve in this way this week, reach out to this person this week, etc.” This isn’t lasting and again all for myself. Instead, resting in the true love I have been given, believing in His love, in the Gospel, allows for a true love for my husband and children and others overflowing from the love lavished on me instead of unrealistic expectations of needing their recognition always.
I’ve been trying to steal God’s glory for myself, but really glorifying Him is the goal. From the Westminster catechism, what is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
I want to know what God thinks of me. I want to know how He sees me. How He loves me. And I want to believe it with my all. To know this, I must know Him. It really is all about Him. What grace the Lord is giving me in this season where I see that maybe nobody else is going to see what goes on during a day except Him, but seeing that He is going to be all that matters. I’m thankful to see this. I’m thankful to desire to pursue Him and seek this more, to seek and know the truth and am praying to continue to desire this, to continue to seek Him.
Lord please give me grace to say with Paul, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2 Corinthians 2:2) and to believe that I will never be lost because my God is the good shepherd, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
Planted for His Glory