Weekend Rerun: When You’ve Become the Diaper

Originally posted on March 5, 2012

I’d been a mom for just under two years when I got pooped on for the first time.

It turns out new babies can’t quite tell when the diaper is on and when Momma has removed it for bath time.

This is one of those things you just never anticipate happening to you.   You go to college, study hard, earn a degree.  Go back to school and earn a Master’s degree.  Teach a classroom of highly intelligent senior high students.

Then two years later you’re cleaning yourself up after being mistaken for a diaper.

Every mom has Kodak moments of familial perfection.  For a few minutes, it’s domestic tranquility.  Kids are healthy.  They used their manners at the dinner table.  The homework is done.  The laundry is put away.  You cooked a delicious and healthy dinner in your Crock Pot, made homemade bread, and no one complained about it at the dinner table.  Your chore chart and behavior reward system are working.

You are, in fact, Super Mom.  You are June Cleaver, Betty Crocker, and even maybe Mr. Clean in one grand super hero package.

Until noses start running and children start fighting when you have a headache.  A stomach virus shoots through your family.  You realize that “dressing up” now means wearing the jeans without the worn knees and Sharpie stains from your child’s experiments with permanent marker.

Are you less of a Super Mom now?

Partway through last week when the stomach virus hit my home, the cleaning up of bodily fluids was beginning to wear me down.  It was like being pooped on . . . all day . . . every day.

I needed a good cry, a scented bubble bath, a cup of hot tea, some rich chocolate—maybe hot fudge on an ice cream sundae, a hair cut, some time to myself, someone to tell me I looked beautiful even on a day it couldn’t possibly be true.

As it was, I prayed the only prayer I was feeling at the moment, “Can you help a girl out, God?  It’s pretty hard to feel like the yucky humiliation and selflessness of this job has any eternal significance.  Do you even know what it’s like to put other people first all the time?”

I forgot who I was talking to.

Oh, sure, Jesus was the Savior of mankind.  He had the power of divinity at His fingertips.  He could multiply the bread instead of having to knead it by hand and let it rise on the stove.  He could command the fish into the nets instead of pushing a cart around Wal-Mart with a shopping list, a budget, coupons, and a toddler.

And yet.

When we over-romanticize the life of our Savior, we forget the utter humility and selflessness of Jesus, who:

“though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV).

Jesus emptied Himself for us.  He took the form of a servant for our sake.  Stepping down from a heavenly throne, for a little while He “was made lower than the angels” all because He loved us (Hebrews 2:9).

The writer of Hebrews emphasizes that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t just that He died on the cross, although that is more than enough.  The sacrifice began the moment He confined Himself to flesh and submitted Himself to a life of hunger, fatigue, and pain.

He suffered in this way so that He could understand our suffering:

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”  (Hebrews 2:14-18, ESV).

and

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV).

Jesus sympathizes with us on our hardest days.  He loves on us and showers mercy down on our lives when He sees how we struggle.  Christ bends Himself low to wash our feet and heal our hurts.

This is never more true than when we’re covered in mess because we’ve been serving someone else.

This means that the most beautiful moments of my motherhood to God aren’t the ones when the family is clean, happy, eating perfect food, at peace with one another and I look like a fashion model.

Instead, it’s when I’m serving even though I’m tired or sick myself.  It’s getting up early even when you were up in the middle of the night.  It’s cleaning up messes and assuring sick children that it’s all okay.

This isn’t just for moms either.  God has called us all to a ministry of self-emptying, of inconvenience and mess, so that we all can share His love with others.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Christmas Devotionals: I Lay Me Down

Grumpy.

That’s how I get sometimes.

Only that night, my daughter and I had sat down on the sofa with her Awana book between us, studying her lessons and verses for the week.  After learning all of Psalm 23, all 66 books of the Bible, and a run of other long and difficult verses, she nearly bounced off the couch when she saw the first verse on the page:

Do everything without complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14).

“Wow, Mom, that’s sooooo easy,” she announced and then poured out the verse a few times just to show off her impressive memorization skills.

So easy, she thinks.  Oh, sometime it’s the shortest, simplest lessons that I’ll be learning over and over, repeatedly day by day, one relentless crawl up the mountain after another, until I collapse in worship at Jesus’ feet in heaven.

Do everything without complaining or arguing.

No grumbling in the kitchen when you’ve called your children to dinner five times and they can hear each other, hear the television, hear the phone ring, hear their game….but at momma’s voice they go conveniently deaf.

No whining about cleaning up the trail of trash or complaining about lunch packing or wailing “woe is me” because I’m tired and bone-aching weary, falling asleep on the couch as my daughters read the bedtime story to me.

No elaborate, shoulder-heaving, dramatic sighs over sock piles and shoes strewn here and there.

Our ministries in our homes, churches, communities, and jobs, sometimes they are joy and sometimes we lose focus and feel the burden.

We see bother and mess, not beauty and grace, precious gifts from God to us.  We forget to be thankful.

And we become grumbling complainers and then staunch defenders of our “rights” and the boundaries we feel will protect those “rights.”

I get the need for boundaries, really I do.  I understand that God’s people aren’t expected to just let others walk all over us. I see how that’s not healthy for us or for them.

And yet, sometimes I feel we set “boundaries” not to help others, but to protect ourselves from the slightest hint of inconvenience, the smallest encroachment on our time or budget or activity.

Sometimes boundaries are less about helping others be healthy and more about keeping ourselves comfy, uninvolved and apathetic to the people around us.

Not always, but sometimes.

How can we, nearing the Christmas season and singing and talking and preaching often about Jesus born in a manger, still stand in our kitchens and grumble about dinner and socks and lunches and mess?

After all, God of the Universe “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7 NIV).

Christmas reminds us to be self-sacrificing, to be servants, to offer ourselves with joy.

Because that’s what our Savior did for love of us, setting aside His rights, privileges, and glory, and humbly, oh so humbly, living among us and our dirt, sin and ugly pride.  Being born and then dying for us, choosing the blood and choosing the pain.

Didn’t Mary also willingly endure shame, the possibility of abandonment by Joseph—and even worse, death by a mob—the loss of her reputation, the disappointment of her parents, the discomfort of pregnancy, the uncomfortable and bumpy trek to Bethlehem, the pain of childbirth, and more…..for God and for the people her Son would save?

And Joseph willingly chose to stand up against the mockers and marry this virgin-with-child anyway, abandoning his home and occupation in Nazareth to journey far to Egypt in order to keep his family safe.

Even shepherds and wise men left their daily toil to journey to a baby.

They sacrificed plans and personal agendas, convenience and reputation, money, careers, relationships…because God asked them to abandon it all for Him and for His people.

It’s an indisputable fact of Christianity, an irrefutable part of our faith…God loves people.

And if God so loved the world this much, to give His only Son….then we should love people, too.  Enough to serve without complaining and arguing.  Enough to give to others more than is comfortable.

Enough to forget the burden and remember the joy, as Mary did in her song, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name” (Luke 46-47, 49).

“I lay me down”—that’s what Christ could have sung, and Mary, Joseph, and the worshipers traveling from afar.  That’s what we sing, “I lay me down, a living sacrifice…a pleasing sacrifice to You.”

To hear Darrell Evans lead in worship, I Lay Me Down” you can click here.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Martyr Mom Returns the T-Shirt

Sighing.  I find myself doing it often.  It’s because I’m not a huge fan of interruptions and it’s because I’m selfish and neither of those issues mesh well with life as a work-at-home mom of three young daughters.

So, I sigh.  “Mom, can you?”  Big, shoulder-heaving sigh.  “Mom, I need help . .. ” Deeply dramatic sigh.  “Mom, I’m thirsty.  I’m hungry.  I’m tired.  Can I cuddle?  Can we play Candy Land?”   More sighing.

In her book, Be the Mom: Overcome Attitude Traps and Enjoy Your Kids, Tracey Lanter Ester calls this the “Martyr Mom.”

Do they sell t-shirts for that?

In all fairness to me, there’s something particularly frustrating about apparently hidden “Mom Alarms” on all the seats in the house.  The moment I begin to ease down into the sofa or a chair, a child (or two or three) yells out “Mom!!” somewhere in the house.

Treating service like martyrdom, though, reduces ministry to a burden instead of an honor and a privilege.

There’s neediness around us. Moms respond to cries and sniffles and grandmas to hands lifted up for a hug.  Perhaps at work you’re taking lunch breaks with the girl in the next cubicle over who shuffled in this morning with eyes reddened from tears.  There’s the cashier at the grocery store who needs you to hang up the cell phone and pause for a smile and the friend who needs you to take time for a phone call and a lunch date.

We’re foot washers.  That’s what God called us to be.  He asked us to bend down low, stooping down out of our own agendas of personal satisfaction and busyness, to touch the messiness of those around us with love and humility.

All without complaining or tossing out loud sighs of fatigue and annoyance.

Jesus, after all, did this for us.  He chose sacrifice for us, without complaint, without sighs of frustration and without dramatizing the heavy load of the burden.

The night Jesus was betrayed, He “crossed the Kidron valley” along the way to the garden where He loved to pray (John 18:1).

Beth Moore notes this valley was “a deep ravine which had been a large cemetery since before 1500 BC.  The Kidron Valley was infamous for being the center of death and the grave” (Moore, Living Beyond Yourself).

Oh how often he must have walked steadily through the graves, the literal valley of the shadow of death, in order to reach the familiar garden.

It wasn’t a one-time journey.  Judas the betrayer knew where to find Jesus that night because he “knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples” (John 18:2).

Christ chose to pray in the familiar place, knowing Judas, an insider, would find him easily.

Then the soldiers arrived along with “some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees.  They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons” (John 18:3).  Judas brought along a “detachment” of soldiers—a full 600 men—not just a few random Roman guards to protect him from the angry disciples.

 For a moment, it sounds like the sacrifice was forced.  Like Jesus’ death was imposed on him, the victory of Satan over a helpless man—of 600 soldiers over one unarmed Jewish leader.

And yet, Jesus, “knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’  ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.  ‘I AM he,’ Jesus said . . . When Jesus said, ‘I AM he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:4-5).

Six-hundred armed soldiers fell to the ground simultaneously at the name of Jesus.
Beth Moore notes: “In the King James Version, the word he in verses 5 and 8 appears in italics, which means the word is not in the original text but is added for our understanding” (Living Beyond Yourself).

“Whom do you seek?”

“Jesus.”

“I AM.”

Jesus wasn’t carried off to trial, torture and crucifixion, helplessly caught up in the triumph of Satan and death and the grave.

He chose to go with 600 soldiers who couldn’t even stand on their feet at the sound of HIS HOLY NAME.

Paul tells us that Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14 NIV).

He says it again: Jesus “gave himself for our sins” (Galatians 1:4) and then later exhorted the church to “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2 NIV).

Jesus gave himself up for us.  He chose sacrifice for us.

And Paul asks us to “walk in the way of love,” this very same sacrificial, non-complaining, freely given love, without sighs, but with joy in the worship of service.

Who has Christ asked you to serve today?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King