By Lindsey Wingo
“Beautiful girl, take care of yourself. No one else knows what your soul needs.”
“Sometimes you have to follow your heart, no matter the consequences.”
“When you’re filled with self-love you make better choices.”
What is your first response to reading these quotes and others like them? If you are on social media or spend any time on Pinterest you are sure to see quotes like these meant to give you the quick pep talk you “need” in order to conquer your day.
As a woman raising young men and women in today’s culture, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means to pursue a meaningful life. When I look at the messages we are being fed like the ones listed above, my fear is that the measure of success and the means by which we achieve it are completely anti-gospel. How do we navigate this as followers of Christ and mothers of the next generation?
While I don’t claim to have all of the answers to this question, I know the first place we should be going to find them is not Cosmopolitan Magazine or even a New York Times best-selling book. God’s Word has the answers we need and many of them are, unsurprisingly, counter-cultural.
Perhaps the biggest questions we often ask are—“Who am I and why am I here?”
The exciting thing for believers in Christ is that we’ve been given the answers all throughout scripture! We were created by God (Genesis 1:27), for His glory (Isaiah 43:6-7, Colossians 1:16). It is as simple as that.
So how do we reconcile this truth with the idea that “we are the gods of our own stories,” or that we have the “power,” and the obligation, to “create our own destinies?”
In short, we can’t.
We are left with a choice. Serve God and submit to His rightful authority over our lives, or serve ourselves. We cannot do both. We must realize we will reach our fullest potential in the exact opposite way the world tells us.
Instead of defending our rights and fighting for our desires, Scripture tells us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24-26).
Rather than encouraging us to follow our hearts, Scripture tells us our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV)
Instead of asking us what we want or what would make us happy, Scripture tells us that whatever we do must be done “to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and that it is God Himself who fulfills His purpose for us when we cry out to Him (Psalm 57:2).
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
I highly recommend Rachel Jankovic’s latest book “You Who? Why You Matter and How to Deal With It.” In it, Rachel says this:
“The more we try to build up an identity apart from God and apart from His Word, the less truly us we become. It doesn’t matter how long or thoughtful or detailed the story you are writing is. If it is written by the character in the story rather than the Author of the story, it can only ever be tiny; it will always be minuscule by comparison. You cannot, as a character, out-write the Author of you.”
In light of these things, my question to Christian parents is this—how does this truth in God’s Word change the way we parent our sons and daughters?
First of all, I believe our children need to spend more time getting to know their Creator than they need to spend getting to know themselves. We need less soul-searching and more searching the Scriptures for the character and attributes of God. When we come to know the God of the Bible in a deeper way, we enjoy more understanding and purpose in our lives than we ever could on our own.
We need less soul-searching and more searching the Scriptures for the character and attributes of God.
When it comes to helping our children discover their identity, I love what popular author and teacher Dennis Rainey says: “The God who made you is the only one who has the authority to define you.” Take that, American pop-culture!
Our children need not be surprised by their weaknesses or the areas in which they feel deficient or less than enough. This is by design. This awareness is meant to cause them to seek the One who is more than enough to be strength in their weakness and light in their darkness (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). And the good work God began when He created them, He will be faithful to complete as they follow His leading (Philippians 1:6).
The overarching story of Scripture is still playing out today in the Kingdom of God. We are called to be a part of advancing that kingdom. We simply cannot do that if we continuously place ourselves on the throne of our lives in the way we make decisions, spend our time and resources, and think about our future. How exciting to know that we were created as a part of a much larger story, bigger than we could conjure up in and of ourselves!
Lindsey Wingo is the founder of the Missional Motherhood Blog. She is the wife of worship pastor, Ryan Wingo, and stay-at-home mother of three sweet kiddos—Ivey, Ruthie, and Charlie. It is her prayer and vision that Missional Motherhood would unite mothers from around the globe with the common purpose of raising up a mighty generation of Christ-followers in an increasingly dark world. Lindsey loves to connect with other women and to study and teach God’s Word. She also enjoys coffee and chocolate (yum), sewing, game nights with her family, days on the lake or at the beach, and her current idea of the perfect date night is cuddling in the bed with her hubby while watching one of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover DVDs! (That is, if a night at the CineBistro is out of the question…) She is an imperfect mother who has to continually remind herself of the hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.