Thanks for visiting my blog. I began journaling about my daily life when I was eleven. Over the years, this has grown to become a way for me to share my thoughts rather than my daily life. I’m pretty open with sharing all the beautiful chaos of life with six children. I have to remind myself to extend grace to myself each and every day! It is my hope that my writings will help others to learn to extend grace to themselves too. After all, if it weren’t for the Grace of God, life would just be messy. I’m so glad that life can instead be a Beautiful Mess and is covered by His Beautiful Grace.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Moms These Days

The other night Gabe and I were talking about how attending church has changed.  No longer do people just go to the neighborhood church because that’s what you do on Sundays.  Very few people even step in the church for a service or event without knowing someone already there.  I even read an article a few weeks ago that stated that most millennials watch a church’s service online an average of 3 times before deciding to visit.  I wish that I could find this article to link it, but the article isn’t really important to this post.  This conversation got me to thinking about the way things have changed in my short lifetime, especially for moms.

Being a Mom has always been hard.  Moms have always been expected to hold it all together, and to look good doing it.  Being a mom in church has been even harder!  Moms have been expected to look near perfect when attending church, and to be sure that each child looked perfect too.  Oh, they had to also make sure that their children acted perfectly too.  Talk about exhausting!  Going to church and having a toddler in the midst of a bad day could leave a Mom in tears as she left, feeling like she didn’t measure up to presenting her best to God.  I don’t even know where this idea came from.  There is no way that any of us, no matter how well we are able to put ourselves and families together on Sunday morning, will ever be good enough for God.  We can’t earn salvation!  Our outward appearance doesn’t determine how spiritual we are, and it doesn’t buy us a ticket to Heaven.

Growing up I watched my parents strive for this week after week.  I watched my Mama stress out about finding matching shoes, and making sure her hair and makeup was perfect.  I loved watching her fix her hair and do her makeup, but I definitely remember how stressful Sunday mornings could be.  Once I became a Mom, I felt those same stresses.  As a preacher’s wife, I didn’t have the option of just not attending on those less than perfect days though.  I’ve had to go to church with wet hair countless times, and make-up is an “only if I have time” thing.  I personally believe that God would rather us be there with a calm spirit and looking less than our best, than look perfect but be completely stressed out. I know He'd rather us be there, than at home because the morning was just too hard.  I love that churches are becoming more welcoming to moms, and that Christian writers are sharing their less than perfect lives so openly now.  We are able to relate to them so much better, because we see that our own struggles aren’t abnormal.  We are able to accept that we are doing the best that we can, and that we aren’t a failure because we have a hard day.  I love this attitude of solidarity that so many moms have adopted.  It gets me through each day, and I know that it gets so many of my friends through each day as well.

My generation is different.  We’ve seen more changes in our short 30 some odd years than any other generation.  We all started out in the carefree days of only striving for perfection when going to church.  Family vacations were spent camping or visiting family in another state, and exploring the area where they live.  Cruises and trips to Disney were luxuries.  Most of us made our first phone calls on a rotary phone in elementary, then fought over using the cordless phone first in middle school.  We saw our parents get bag phones when we were in jr high, and we carried a pager in high school.  We dealt with busy signals when calling friends, because they were online, and we waited several minutes as our own computers connected to dial-up internet, just so that we could get online to chat or request samples of Jelly Belly jelly beans.  Many of us typed our first research papers in college on word processors, or used the school computer lab, and within just a year or two we had laptops.  By the time we graduated college, we were using phones to text people.  Social media sites became a thing.  Then smart phones where we could check our email, and even take pictures.  Just 10 years after I graduated high school, the iPhone came out, changing EVERYTHING about our daily lives.  We suddenly had a window into the lives of others right in our pocket.  We were able to share even more about our daily lives without having to sit down at the computer.  Planning big vacations became the norm, and laid back trips to visit family or go camping were overlooked or reserved for weekend trips only.  Sites like Pinterest and YouTube joined the scene and suddenly we had instructions and ideas for anything we could think to search for.  We have found ourselves overwhelmed by what looks like perfect lives everywhere we look, being reminded by bloggers that no one is perfect, striving to create a picture-perfect life anyways, and being judged by strangers because we aren't perfect.  That's a whole lot of change in just a short time!

As church leaders, I believe that taking these changes into account would serve us well as we seek ways to serve others in our community.  We know times have changed, and our way of reaching out needs to change as well.  We know that women tend to be the ones to make sure that families are in church, so we need to make sure that women and especially moms feel welcomed at our church.  When we see a mom that is obviously struggling, we need to reach out and lend a helping hand, not turn our heads in judgement.  Even a smile or hug on a hard day can go such a long way towards reminding a mom that she's not messing up everything around her.  We need to be sure to provide childcare for women's events to be sure that younger women are able to attend.  Bringing kids with you is sometimes okay, but today's moms are so stressed and overworked, that they need that break to just be with other like-minded women, where they can relax and know that their kids are being cared for by loving volunteers.  Christian moms these days want to learn more about Christian living, not just more about the Bible stories we've heard in Sunday School every 3 years since we were toddlers.  They want real relationships with those they go to church with.  They want to hear stories from the older ladies about how they struggled in their day too, not about how things were different and how it's all messed up now.  Non-Christian women aren't flocking to churches just because that's what they've always done either.  We have to find ways to reach out to them, build relationships with them, and share Christ with them without expecting them to come to church first in order for us to do that.  We have to look beyond the walls of the church, and consider things outside of our traditional ways, in order to reach moms and their families.

Today's moms are a really fascinating bunch of ladies, and they can be a great asset to our churches, but if we don't make our churches welcoming to them, we are going to miss out on a great blessing.  We have to find a way to bridge the gap between the older women in the church, and the younger women that they want to see in church.  It can't be all about children's and youth programs anymore.  Those things alone won't keep a family in church together.  Often those will result in children or teens coming without the parents.  We have to consider the whole family, and especially the moms.   Far too many churches are missing out on the fellowship and joy of families worshiping and serving together, because they just don't understand moms these days.

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