Thursday, September 18, 2014

Identity crisis: part 1

It doesn't take long for circumstances to change.

You wake up one morning, and you realize things are different than they were from some other part of your life.  And it's not a bad thing--it's just a different thing.

One day you have a child clinging to your leg wanting dinner, and the next minute.. (or so) he is driving himself home from basketball practice.  And it's that blink-of-an-eye experience that causes you to view time as transient.  Time is just where we are now in relation to where we have been and where we are going.  But it's nothing. and everything.  but really nothing.

And if our identity.. that elusive thing that causes us to have any level of self awareness.. is something as shifting as the wind, or time itself.. we probably have misplaced something in our priority cycle.

Simply put-- we don't have it right.

Who are we... already??  Who am I?  Do you know who you are?

If you had asked me that as recently as a year ago, I would have answered this way:

I am an organizing mommy.

And it would have encompassed all that I think goes into that.  I am a wife, a mommy, a busy mommy of five kids.. and then listed in order everything that I do to make my life "happen".. and of course, the defining crown over it all would be: a Christian.

And that's not bad.  I've made some good choices in this life.  But my choices for better or worse.. are not my identity.  My wife status, my mothering, my homeschooling, my organizing, or pilates teaching.. do not define me.  They do not cause my identity to happen.

Am I saying that I don't want to identify with these excellent things?  Am I somehow embarrassed by them?  No. and not at all.  I do identify with them very strongly.  But they do not make me who I am.

Let's take the obvious.

A wife.

At times, in my past, the identification with this role has reached the level of idolatry for me.  I can't put my finger on when or how it happened.  Was it an over-correction of where the world falls short? Was it just my justification for not pursuing a career, so I needed some job title?  I'm not even sure.  As much as I enjoy fulfilling this role, it is just that--a role.  But if my entire identity is wrapped up in this, what happens when a death of a spouse or (God forbid) a divorce happens?  Am I shattered as a person.. forever??  Or what if I am just unhappy as a wife?  What if I've made a bad decision and I'm stuck with it? Then what?  And what about the other 85% of the world who are not happily married wives?  Do they feel like second-class citizens in my presence because I have elevated this role to idolatry?  (probably they do..?)   Alas.   I need much growth, Lord.

A mother.

If being a wife did not reach full-scale idolatry, certainly being a mother has.  Yes, we in the Christian community celebrate motherhood.  We are making up for the scores of media messages out there demeaning this wonderful role.  But have we, in the process, damaged ourselves because of it?  If ever there was a precarious precipice to place your identity, the motherhood pinnacle reaches unprecedented heights.    And why not? Let's celebrate what the world cuts down, right?  Except..  ugh.
The child misbehaves, dishonors, disobeys.. or is just a human (in any way) it is a direct reflection of us and our identity!!  Wow!  Can you imagine being a child in a family where the mother's entire self esteem rested on her perfect children??  I shudder at the thought of it.  And let's not even go into issues like: teen rebellion, drug abuse, criminal activity, divorced children, etc. etc.  And what about death? Children die.  Children make decisions.  They are little humans.  And they become big humans who are capable of making decisions that are very different from the way you would do it.  And then what?  Are you shattered for life because everything you had was wrapped up in being a mother?

A homeschooling mommy.

This is the one area of my life where I can say that is changing, and perhaps.. that is the impetus for this discussion.  I'm starting to realize that too much of my mothering was wrapped up in this precious gift/ calling of being a homeschooling mommy.  When something is all consuming, such as homeschooling, it is so easy to get the cart before the horse.  Did homeschooling fuel my identity? absolutely.  Did I see that as bad? no.  It's what I do.  But it's not who I am.  If it were my entire identity, I would cease to exist since my journey is basically on its tail end.  Did I live it? breathe it? enjoy it? thrive on it?  absolutely!!  It was a precious time.  But I exist beyond that.

These are hard concepts to get my own head around, and I am not even sure that I am communicating it properly.  I don't want anyone to get the impression that I am throwing caution to the wind and disrobing myself of my precious roles.  Actually, it is just the opposite.  I am finding my identity so that whatever roles I find myself in, whether presently or in the future, will be grounded in true greatness.

And I know that you know where I am going with this.  Our identity needs to be in Christ.  But I'm not going directly there.  We're taking the circuitous route.  And here's why: it looks different for each person.  Identity in Christ is possibly for anyone, but it does not look the same for everyone.  It is uniquely mine, as it will be uniquely yours.  We can rest confidently that God will help us find it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A year without my husband and family?

I attended a Toastmaster's meeting with my daughter and husband.  If you aren't familiar with Toastmasters International, it is a public speaking club.  People show up,  practice prepared as well as extemporaneous speeches, receive evaluations and generally have a nice time.

So, I decided to go.  I'm not even sure why, except that I LOVE public speaking.  I know. Weird.

So, the question was asked to me:  If you could have a year off of being a wife and a mother, what would you do with yourself? and why?

The questioner was sincere.  And he asked it in such a way that assumed that a year without a husband and children would be such a vacation that I would hardly know what beach to visit.  And for many women, the whole wife/ mother thing is burdensome and this "opportunity" to "dream" is something too wonderful to contemplate.

But not for me.

The only way this would happen is if they all died.

So, I answered the question accordingly.

If all my family died.  I would be grieving for their loss for a long time.  But during this time of healing and grieving, I would find my path again.  I lived every moment of my life loving my husband and children, so I can only imagine helping others do the same.  

Very simply, I would get training by going back to school to be a specialized family/ marriage counselor. I would spare no expense on my education because good training is what I would need.  I would take my skills and education to the hurting families and suffering marriages and ask God to use me in this way.

And that is how I answered.

I doubt it was what anyone expected.

I'm not even sure that I expected it to come out of my mouth.  But it bubbled up--from the depths of my soul..  My passion is starting to make itself known.

I don't just love my family.  I love families..

God didn't just give me a great family so I could sit on my private little world and feel sorry for the little people.  No.  That's never been my style.  My style has always been fearless.  Hands on. risky. controversial. messy.

And the passion for individual souls.. within the context of families.. Not nicey nicey families.

No.  Completely screwed up families.  dysfunctional families. hurting. sober. poor. rich. drug-abused. cult-infused, legalistic bound, licentious, lewd.  bring it.

God, I'm ready.  Bring it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

50 Shades of Silence: for married women

There is probably not even one person who hasn't heard of the mommy-porn book/ upcoming movie of the infamous, Fifty Shades of Grey.  And while I've read several noteworthy blog posts and articles on the subject, not even one of them has been written by a female--let alone a conservative, Christian female.

And I thought about writing it, but then I had several problems with writing it.

First off-- an entire blog post about sex.. kinda awkward considering my own kids are like.. young adults.. and their friends.. and all that hoooo haaa .. "Mrs. Webber writes about sex.."

Secondly-- do I want people to think I have actually read the book? "Mrs. Webber reads porn.."

Thirdly-- do I feel qualified to discredit a book/ theory/ a concept that I can not and will not read?
"Mrs. Webber writes about stuff that she hasn't even read.."

And then finally--  what will.. like.. everybody.. think???  "Dang! We need to pray for the Webbers.."

All of that aside, I'm going to tell you story.

All my stories are theoretical, of course.  But let's just say this could have happened.

A friend and I were talking.  In this conversation she had a confession to make..

My friend: "I've been struggling with lust.."

My response: "Oh no..  another man?  You have feelings for a man that is not your husband?"

My friend: "No.  I've been lusting after my husband..."

My response: "So.. you are telling me.. that.. you are wanting your husband.. sexually?"

My friend: "yeah.. is that bad?"

 My response: "Does he know this?"   

So, suffice it to say, (after I straightened her out) I think he was in for a treat.

And you laugh.  Because it is funny.  But it is just the tip of the iceberg of how "screwed up" (horrible pun) the views of sex are.

We, in the church, are enshrouded by the 50 shades of silence.  The one positive outcome of nonsense like Fifty Shades is it somehow has highlighted the fact that women have sexual needs.  Good grief. Who knew?  But polite people in polite circles..just do not talk about such things.  And I agree.

The last thing you want to talk about in mixed company is stuff like this.

But I am going to attempt to bust out of some this silence.. a little.  Don't worry. No graphic details. No instructions.  Just a bit of encouragement.

But someone reading this is being tempted. They are too busy to "work on" their relationship with their husband, and 50 Shades solution seems to be the answer.  Wrong. and so wrong.

And here's why.. in no particular order.

1. Your husband needs to learn the lessons that only he can learn by being your hero in this way.
Yes, it is difficult for everyone.  But it is not impossible.  You need to teach him how to work with you, and he will figure it out.  And he will love bringing you pleasure more than you can imagine.

2. You need for your husband to be what brings you pleasure--not some strange book.  Your feelings for him will increase, and they are all wrapped up in this process.  Women are like spaghetti. It's all tangled up--including sex. Your ability to receive this pleasure will grow over time.  Believe it or not. The older you get, the more confident you are.. the better everything is.

3. God has given this as a gift for married couples to enjoy.  He designed it, and this is the right time and place.  You are married, and that is what you give each other.

4. God made you this way.  It's normal. It's good.  There is nothing to fear. For you, selfishness is going to be manifest by holding back and withholding.

5. God made him this way also.  It will take him a few years to actually fight his selfish side also.  But he will learn to pace things to your liking.  It's important for you to not criticize his efforts.  It's a process and not easy sometimes.

So, yeah.. I'm breaking one of the shades of silence.. call me out on this, if you need to.  And I apologize if this is read by someone other than my intended audience: married women.  I have no control over who reads a public blog.

For those of you who are struggling with this part of your relationship, I'm praying for you.