Today’s post was written by the wisest woman I know, and I promise, I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom. She and I had a good conversation the day after we published my post, God, I Don’t Know How to be a Good Wife, and she wanted to publish bits of that conversation in a way that would be encouraging to everyone feeling as I did. I love the fact that she acknowledges the reality of the struggle instead of just trying to cheerfully sweep it under the rug. I hope you’re as encouraged by this as I was. — Erin

Dear Erin,

I loved your post! I identified with so much of what you said. I know the feeling of being happy yet totally unprepared when you realize God has grown a new desire in your heart. The guilt thing was all too familiar, too. (In fact, I’m afraid you may have inherited/learned this trait from your mother.) I recall desperate pleas of my own, crying out for God’s help when I realized I couldn’t live this life on my own.

I immediately knew I had to respond, but my feelings were numerous and confused. I felt proud to have a daughter who is so thoughtful and reflective … who is vulnerable and honest … who doesn’t mind laying it all out there in a big messy pile knowing God knows it all anyway … who is passing on what she has learned, and is learning to love those around her … who is learning to love someone more than herself.

So that’s where I started.

janet flippin's bioBut, as I was writing all of this right there on Facebook for the whole world to see, it dawned on me I better temper my pride a bit. I was suddenly aware of what others might think — was I just being a typical proud mother gushing about her daughter? Would some judge me because I was encouraging you to question yourself and to broadcast it via a social network? Maybe I should tell you to ease up on yourself, remind you what an amazing daughter and wonderful wife you are.

While it is certainly true that you are wonderful and amazing (hopefully, I tell you these things often), I realized I felt compelled to tell you these things because that’s what I was “supposed to say” as your mother. I felt others would “expect” me to say those things. Ironic, isn’t it, that I’m still working on being a “good mother” and a “good person” myself?

Realizing this, I’m going to resist the need to make everything okay and tell you to take it easy on yourself. For me to respond that way would be to disregard the very point you are trying to make because I know you didn’t post your words in order to receive a bunch of obligatory compliments, but to honestly share your struggle with expectations and appearances. While I certainly don’t want you to feel badly about yourself, or put so much pressure on yourself, I think any struggle that leads you to pray a prayer like the one you prayed is beneficial and healthy.

So I’m just going to affirm what you’ve already learned — it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or what you think they’re doing. (I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy.) It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

It really doesn’t even matter what you think because our feelings and thoughts are so fickle and fragile.

The only thing that matters is what God thinks and what will matter in eternity (eg: not how crafty you are or how clean your house is … but definitely how you love others and how you rely on God, etc).

But as long as we’re here on Earth, we’re all going to struggle with new situations — fear, anxiety, the need for perfection, and comparing ourselves to others. So I think the best advice I have for you was spoken so eloquently by a very wise three-year-old named Erin. When asked how she overcame some pretty strong fears she had been struggling with, she said, “I told my brain to shut up.” She then proceeded to come out of the house where she had sequestered herself and into the sunshine where everyone was swimming and having fun.

In that mode, trust God as you so beautifully demonstrated in your sweet prayer, and then tell your brain to “shut up!” Come out into the sunshine and enjoy the wonderful world of marriage.

Mom

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A mother’s response to, “God, I don’t know how to be a good wife.”

2 thoughts on “A mother’s response to, “God, I don’t know how to be a good wife.”

  1. Janet, you are a wise lady! Erin, you are blessed to have such a great Mom who loves you enough to put her Mom feelings aside and give you honest, helpful advice. After 45 years of marriage, I can say it is always a work in progress but well worthy the effort!

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