Note to readers ~ This blog is a bit of a departure from my usual writing, but pray it is timely and reaches the ears of those who would be encouraged. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else.
I was sitting, feeding my little ones recently in a public place when a lady close by asked what I was giving them to eat. I obliged, giving her a breakdown of the ingredients. Another gal in the background chimed in, "Well that doctor on TV says never give them _______. You aren't giving them _______ are you?" I smiled, answered softly, and wiped the faces of my little ones, eager for the next bite.
There is a mommy war going on. I see it in relationships played out in real time and especially on the internet where we have the comfort of hiding behind the fortress of computer screens. We can be so quick to defend ourselves and our choices because after all, it is our perceived ability to love our children that is at stake. While the topics and language may differ, the feelings shared among mothers throughout history are not new. Being a mother is a high calling and it is the most heart-wrenching position a woman can be given as our choices not only affect us but those most dear to us.
In many ways, I see this generation as one trying to reconcile the wisdom of the past with the information of the present, not neglecting our mothers, grandmothers, and our friends. I know from experience that we desire validation for our own conclusions. As we seek acceptance, there is a one-up-ness to our dialogue that can be discouraging. Not everyone who offers information does so with contempt, but no matter the heart behind the words, I wonder if I am not the only one who is in a constant battle of preaching the gospel to myself as I read various opinions about breastfeeding, dietary choices, or vaccines, just to name a few. If you find yourself in the same place as I am, this blog is for you. You and I are the "we" and the "us".
Currently, the debate and hurt feelings seem to have a lot to do with the word "natural".
Natural isn't in and of itself a bad word. When I think natural, I think of fields of flowers or forest canopies, ocean waves and sand between my toes. When I go to the supermarket and I look at the shelves of items, I gravitate toward the ones that use that particular language to describe the contents of whatever I buy--- if it is in my budget. In those circumstances, the word is used to describe something in it's ~purest available form~ without much, if anything, added. I feel pride in making the better choice. I congratulate myself on being a good mother. I also have been known to buy Oreos. There are moments I thank God for them. They sit next to the coconut oil in my pantry.
Those of us who have plumbed the depths of natural childbirth know what that kind of natural is all about. While it was my preferred recovery of my three birth experiences, I know why it is meant to hearken back to the fall. It hurt bad, y'all. I probably needed a doula. I remember the nurse cheering me on as I mouthed "I can't do this..." with a "Honey, it is going to hurt like ---- but you are the only person in this room that can get you out of this situation." My last laboring experience with 31-weekers who had been sick in-womb was a completely different event. They were dependent on life-saving technologies for their survival. I did not want natural for them. Natural would have killed them. I also was in appreciation to my doc for using all those cauterization tools that kept me from bleeding out during my surgery and the synthetic stitches that held-in all my innards. I was very thankful for the doctors and nurses who knew how to handle such teenie babies.
But even in my more natural births or trips to the supermarket for natural, whole foods, dependent on who you talk to, my natural may not be natural enough. I am not here to debate this point nor do I want anyone to feel that I am throwing anyone's opinions under the bus. I have read the same articles as those on many sides and while I am certain everyone has an angle and agenda to perpetuate, I do not deny the sincerity, passion, and experience behind the various conclusions. There is always more to know on top of what is known.
I do however want us to plant ourselves in God's word for a bit to think about what we are fighting for or at least give us a more biblical starting point.
There is a fallacy under girding the word natural. The bible doesn't define natural as good. In the garden pre-fall, creation was good and humanity very good. After the fall, different language is used to describe creation. It is now cursed (Gen. 3). Man must now toil with sweat-filled brow as thorns and thistles vie for nutrients in the soil. Physical and emotional pain become humanity's companion as strife enters relationships, procreation, and the raising of children. Something else enters the world--- death--- to dust you shall return. It is the wages of our disobedience. That is a pretty big problem for us. God evicts the residents of the Garden to keep them from the Tree of Life because to subject them to an eternity of living in a sinful condition would be unbearable (Gen. 3:22).
Cells of plants, animals, and humans now have a life span. Our life--- our breath--- our world--- is tragically flawed and for good reason. While creation is vast, beautiful, and extremely complex it does not function perfectly. This truth does not incriminate the Creator- remember He made all good- but those who are the disobedient created. The way in which God designed nature to function tells us much about His character but it still leads us to the conclusion that all that was made needs to be remade.
This leads me to my first thought:
1) The beginning state of anything created post-Genesis 3 is not inherently good.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it...
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly...
Romans says creation is subjected to futility--- or ineffectiveness or uselessness. The things we may use or do to correct flaws in nature are equally flawed. No matter what I do, I cannot get away from having an imperfect starting point and imperfect solutions. The suffering makes us inwardly groan. All ages of persons die, animals eat each other, flowers wither, the earth quakes and cracks... I could go on and on. But those verses aren't complete. Now the very very good news.
2) Creation's imperfection is indeed a brilliant showing of God's plan for us. It points us toward a Redeemer who will come save us from this body of death under the curse and renew the earth. Herein we are given a longing for a supernatural solution.
...in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
...as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8 cont.
3) It is not our list of what we do or don't do, eat or don't eat, etc. that defines our identity as a believer in Jesus Christ (or as a mother, for that matter). Our identity is given to us by faith through grace and our righteousness is in Him.
As much as we don't like being compared to one another, there is Someone we have to compare ourselves to. In that comparison, He did and does everything better than all. In fact, He is Perfection. He came to fulfill the Law of loving God and loving our children as well as the law of never doing anything to harm them. He came on the behalf of mothers.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
We are either trying to fulfill the Law through what we do or we trust in the One Who fulfilled it for us. The opportunity to be more or less natural (in the best sense of the word) is just another avenue for us to be led astray in finding our peace, hope, and rest in something other than the work of Jesus Christ. Because of His perfection, we are free to obey God in loving our children the best we can in faith that Jesus does it all right for us. There is a "God's way", but let's be honest: We don't do it. Sometimes in very complex issues, we don't even know what the right way is. And when we think we can apart from His grace, we belittle God's plan in Emmanuel, Savior, Faithful, and True. When we see Him working in us, there is only one place to go in gratitude. It is beautiful and humbling when we have eyes to see how often we fail and the way we have then been loved as a Father loves His own. Isn't it fitting that God call us to Himself in paternal fashion?
4) For those who have put their faith in Jesus, we belong body and soul to God. And He loves our children more than we do.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things were created through Him and for him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
5) While some may see things in a different position on the spectrum of bad - best, we need to give each other the space to be free to love our families as God has given us the freedom of the glory of the Children of God to do so.
Unless we are intentionally and unrepentantly making choices to harm ourselves or our children, we need to love each other as ones greatly loved and be quick to give the benefit of the doubt. There may be solutions that best suit some of us better than others but there is no one-size-fits-all fix this side of heaven. We have become poor listeners in our attempts to be right and even lost touch in some cases with the wisdom of generations before us.
Common grace does allow for good to come from the accursed and I praise God for His mercy on us in it. We here at joyinourjourney have seen miracles provided by God in various ways. The miraculous, whether in a form recognizable by physical attributes or in one that can only be explained by God's invisible hand, always calls for worship. If you have found that you have been helped by a certain medication, then you go girl. If you find that eliminating dairy helps your digestion, then Praise God! For those of you who are juggling your time and energy, resources and sometimes do the quick thing just to have a few minutes of rest at the end of a hectic day, I see you. You are welcome here.
6) There is a future hope! God is also preparing a place for us to live better than we could imagine.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
We end up in a better land than even Adam or Eve knew when they walked where we now walk~ living with God but redeemed. It will be a place where the Wedding Feast of the Lamb will be perfectly good for us. Until then, we wait with eager anticipation knowing that this life will be only a moment in the shadow of eternity.
We don't have to spend time beating ourselves up over what kind of milk to buy. We can simply pray for wisdom, asking God to help us experience more rest in the gospel. There is another war that is far more important than the mommy wars in which we engage. And it has been won. One day we will have complete, body-and-soul wholeness.
The last thing you or I need is another voice of condemnation or another opinion that makes us feel as if someone else is doing it better. On the other hand, Some One is doing it best, and that is good new for us all.
The next conversation we have with one another, can we start here?