Two years ago I got my first pair of “full-time” glasses. I hated them. They never fit right. They hurt my nose. I felt claustrophobic. I felt un-pretty. However, they were expensive and I could see, so I wore them. Once my husband realized how uncomfortable I was in my glasses, both physically and emotionally, he told me to go get another pair. Yet I refused. Why? Why would I refuse to go do something that would make my life better? The answer is clear to me, I’m a mom. Most moms will understand. See, as moms we take this unwritten vow to put ourselves last. Now don’t get me wrong: motherhood is sacrifice, but it is NOT martyrdom. Too often I confuse the two.
Sacrifice is losing sleep to hold a sick child. Sacrifice is making sure they have what they need, even if it means that you go without. Sacrifice is love. Sacrifice rejoices in the well-being of your family. Martyrdom, however, is a completely different thing. Martyrdom says, “I can’t have this because my family has needs that are more important than mine”. Subtle difference in verbiage, huge difference in heart. Martyrdom takes root in your heart and can turn into bitterness and self pity. This is not God’s plan for mothers.
a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration.
Martyrdom is defined as "a display of feigned or exaggerated suffering to obtain sympathy or admiration". (Wow, that hurts!) How often do we see our suffering as a way to obtain admiration?
See, we could easily afford a new pair of glasses for me, but I felt more comfortable being uncomfortable. Seriously, I did not feel like I deserved to have nice things. I wanted my kids to have the best so I was happy to do without. But here is the ugly truth...I was not giving them the best. I was not my best self and that was unfair.
As I prepare to send our last child and only girl to college in the fall, I have taken a long hard look at the example I have lived in front of my three kids. I want them to take care of themselves. I want them to see that God has a wonderful plan for their lives and they shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best. I want my daughter to know her worth in Christ and expect a young man to treat her with the dignity and respect she deserves. I have been teaching them these principles, but I have not been consistent in living them out in front of them.
When I began to hear my negative self talk in the voice of my daughter, I knew I had to change.
So, I got a new pair of glasses. I feel like myself again. My nose doesn’t hurt. I don’t feel claustrophobic. I can see! And guess what? My family didn’t suffer because I spent some time and money on myself. In fact, the opposite is true. I am happier now and so I am more fun to be around. I have more energy and a much brighter attitude. My family benefits from me feeling good about myself. My daughter sees that it is okay, dare I say, even right to take care of yourself first. After all, how will I care for them if I am a mess? It is the “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” principle. It is still second nature to do without and feel self pity, but I can truly feel the Lord changing my view of myself. I am God’s child and He loves me and wants the best for me. I am thankful for a chance to have a new outlook through new glasses.
"New Perspectives" is ENTRY ONE of March's Share Your Story series. Join us next Monday for ENTRY TWO.
Denise Erway and her husband, Greg, have been married and in full-time ministry for 30 years, currently on staff at First Assembly of God (Lawton, OK). She acknowledged a call into ministry at the age of 13. "I knew I was called to be a pastor’s wife. I watched the women around me who were serving as pastor’s wives and the way they lived their lives helped to form my ministry philosophy. I was blessed to learn from the best." Free time is a new concept in her life as she is finishing 18 years of homeschooling! "Right now I enjoy hanging out with my family, coffee dates, reading, and teaching about essential oils!" Denise's greatest passion in ministry is mentoring. "It is such an honor to come along side younger women and speak into their lives. I am passionate about seeing them embrace the life God has given them. I also have the unique opportunity to work with teens and young adults in worship arts ministry. I find myself often saying, 'You’re only young once, why not try it now? Go, soar, explore, and find God’s best for you.'" Denise will be relaunching her blog soon. You can follow her on Instagram @denerway.