Because sin is everywhere

One reason I avoid writing is because I only like to do things I’m good at. Fear of failure is the reason I never auditioned for music school. I was afraid to fail; I was afraid to hear from yet another person that I wasn’t good enough. That, and I needed a way to make a living that didn’t involve a street corner and a hat on the ground with quarters in it. So I got a degree in education which is basically the same thing.

Writers do well to engage one of two things: great content or a willingness to bleed a little bit in public. The best have both; the worst have neither. The problem with my own situation is this. I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes the best thing that happens in a day is that a calf dies in a convenient spot. Plus, the kid that could be the subject of a few epic blog posts has asked not to be on the internet. Drats.

The other problem is one of vulnerability. I’m afraid of looking stupid. I hate appearing weak even though I am. So the whole writing thing is really just a huge therapuetic pain in the rear. Sometimes you dig into the deep recesses of your brain for ideas, and lo and behold, there’s nothing there. I hate those months.

When I wrote yesterday’s post, I hestitated with the story because I knew I was breaking a big rule. The rule is this: Good Christian mothers don’t put their children in daycare. (There’s probably another one about modesty and gym clothes, but whatever.) Of course, I’d argue that it was a wise decision given the circumstances, and puh-leez, there was a two hour time limit so I wasn’t exactly sipping margaritas in the jacuzzi while my children cried for me. But the internet wasn’t in full swing yet, and so all I had was the Bible and a low dose of prozac to inform my conscience.

I think this is the paragraph where I’m supposed to talk about how serious I am as a Christian, how much I want my children’s accomplishments to be known as something bigger than “Well, they don’t murder small animals.” Okay.

Sometimes God intervenes in postpartum depression with a miracle, and then other times, you just look at the options, piece together a plan, and muddle through to the other side- simply thankful to have made it there.

Real life is hard. Sin and imperfect circumstances aren’t things reserved only for the heathens and people who play Texas Hold ‘em with the rent money. Stuff finds us even when we don’t go looking for it. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Sometimes it’s because we’re stupid, and sometimes it’s because sin touches us all like a cancer.

21 Responses to “Because sin is everywhere”

  1. 1

    I was just reading the story of Paul who was sent to Caesarea and appeared before the governor Felix. Paul was accused, but was not guilty. The guilty ones were the accusers. Yet God ordained that Paul should stay in that prison for two years. Bad things happen, even to people like Paul.

    Bad things happen to all of us. Kids disobey and don’t put their boots and mitts away, and mothers trip over the junk and hurt themselves. Then said mother whines about it on the internet, offending kids that disobeyed. (You are wise to listen to your kids who do not want to be written about.) We’re all learning, and some of us learn more slowly than others.

    I’m glad you write with wisdom and vulnerability. Just make sure you read the Bible and ignore those who would slap you with their rules. It gets easier as you get older, believe me. I simply do not care what they think.

  2. 2
    Holly

    I can’t even begin to comment on these two posts, Amy….except well to comment and say that I’m here and I’m reading. :)

    I would write a book if I even began to delve into the struggles and realities that we will face with parenting.

    So, I won’t.

    I’d love to spend an afternoon drinking coffee and eating chocolate with you, though. We’d have such a good and honest talk.

    Life is hard. Sin *is* everywhere. But in the end….God wins. :) So much hope there….right? :) And that holds us thru the tough decades.

    Love you, lady!

  3. 3
    kateg

    Or maybe God intervenes with a miracle of a pre-school craft class held at the same place where a new mom can get a little bit of endorfin flow and breathing room. Thank you for your candor and humor.

  4. 4

    I knew I was breaking a big rule. The rule is this: Good Christian mothers don’t put their children in daycare.

    Funny, I thought the rule was: only cop to an imperfection when using it to illustrate a deeper piety. In this case you seem to have left out a godly sorrow over a (temporary) weakness, a renewed determination to overcome it, gratitude to a heavenly Father who loves us even when we fall short but graciously never allows us to forget that we invevitably fall short … I could go on.

    But I liked it the way you wrote it. Thanks.

  5. 5

    Plus, the kid that could be the subject of a few epic blog posts has asked not to be on the internet. Drats.

    That cracked me up. The internet totally did not evolve (or Al Gore didn’t invent it, or whatever) until it was too late for most of the funny stories from my kids’ childhoods. I love having older kids, but it’s true, you have to be very careful what you write about them.

    I totally appreciate how you are not all, “This is the right thing, the only right thing to do, and the only right way to do it. God gave me the grace to do it all right, and if you just trust Him enough, He will give you the exact same grace He gave me… to do all these wonderful right things the wonderful right way, the way, in fact, that I did them.” I just cannot stand people like that.

    The ironic thing is: I’m pretty sure I was in grave danger of being just like that if God hadn’t graced me with some suffering during the infancy/toddler/p[preschool years. Some people have to suffer to grow, some don’t. I guess I do, at least usually, and even then I grow pretty slow. But He doesn’t give up. I suppose at some point, God will even teach me to appreciate not only humorous, humble people like you, but also people who project the “I have it all together” persona. He’s miraculous that way.

  6. 6

    Amy, Amy, Amy.

    I am one of those crazy people who is kind of dogmatic about daycare. My SIL worked in several and owned one for years and tainted me with her horror stories of why she hung it up and walked away from the industry.

    Can I tell you that I never even noticed (or at least it didn’t register enough for me to care)? Your story was so engaging, and I so related to what you were saying. Even when I read this post I thought, “Daycare? What daycare?” And then it hit me that you were talking about the gym thing and I thought, “But that’s not daycare!” LOL.

    The fact that you felt that might be a point of contention is what makes you endearing.

    The other problem is one of vulnerability. I’m afraid of looking stupid. I hate appearing weak even though I am.

    None of us is perfect, and sin is indeed everywhere, and your kids are fortunate to have a mother who recognizes her need for God.

    His Strength is made perfect in our weakness.

  7. 7
    Ouida Gabriel

    “Sometimes God intervenes in postpartum depression with a miracle, and then other times, you just look at the options, piece together a plan, and muddle through to the other side- simply thankful to have made it there. ”

    Oh wow. I have been there, slowly crawling out the other side with thankfulness and gratitude. I don’t look down my nose at people like I did when I was just starting this motherhood thing. Everyone has their own story to tell, their own cross to bear and shame on me if I cause someone to trip over their progress because it is not what I would do. I still find myself saying things like “that is why we home school” but deep down I know not every mother is able to do this. They may have to suffer things I don’t have to but that is between them and God. I just need to bend down more humbly in prayer for them, and myself.

    Thank you for a great post.

    Ouida Gabriel

  8. 8

    Amy, your post sounds so much like me. I’m very much against putting my child in daycare, but I also had a gym membership with childcare that helped me to deal with postpartum depression and just stress and life in general (I went from a well-paid, high responsibility career to staying at home on a very tight budget and it’s been a big adjustment to make).

    I haven’t been able to go to the gym this year, because my membership expired, but I can honestly say I was a better mother and wife when I had that daily break. It made me feel better physically and mentally and I was a lot more patient and understanding. Even Jesus sometimes withdrew from the crowds for private time, and I think any mothers overlook this need to care for and renew ourselves. “Me time” can be taken to the extreme but, in proper balance, it can help us to be better at fulfilling out roles in life and in ministering to others.

    Also, I find it refreshing to see women blogging about all life’s circumstances. Even Christians sometimes struggle, and we are all touched by the effects of sin. So much can come from sharing how we get through trials and overcome through the grace of God, rather than only sharing the easy and good parts and giving the impression that struggles end once we are saved.

  9. 9
    Lois

    and besides all of that (what they all said), you “just plain write good.”

    I found myself reading this one not only for content (which is there in plenty; don’t worry, I didn’t miss it), but to analyze what there is about your style that makes it so captivating. And it’s more than the vulnerability and honesty and dry wit, etc.

    Maybe it’s how you weave those things together so concisely, so quickly, like a surprise around the corner, making us grin and then cry, then laugh again, and then suddenly we’re left with something totally deep to ponder.

  10. 10

    Amy, I love to read your writing because you are real, and thoughtful, and as a mom of small children dealing with my own darknesses (in this case, not post-partum but post- the wrenching losses of two pregnancies in a row, I need to hear your reflections from farther down the road. You may think it’s not great content because it’s your everyday life, but it is great-because it gives me a glimpse into the thoughts of a woman who is living a real life, with all its unexpected joys and hurts, and keeps going forward, laughing and crying and being blessedly sarcastic.

    I think your blog was the first place where, as a new mom full of authoritative opinions, I read about the dangers of the mommy wars. You were so right. The more I live, the more I think all those little rules we’ve made up are no benefit to anyone. God’s rules are hard enough to follow, and his grace tough enough to live by, and his ways hard enough to trace. Why do we make it harder for ourselves when, as Lewis said, He tells us no one’s story but our own?

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is a blessing.

  11. 11

    I figure with six, maybe one will turn out OK and failing that they will get a group discount on therapy….

  12. 12

    When he was 4, my Steven poked a toad to death with a sharp stick! I was sure that he was going to grow up to be a mass murderer! Hang in there, Amy!

  13. 13
    Amy Scott

    I think your blog was the first place where, as a new mom full of authoritative opinions, I read about the dangers of the mommy wars. You were so right. The more I live, the more I think all those little rules we’ve made up are no benefit to anyone.

    I can die now. Thank you for that.

    Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes women so disinclined to drink and eat grace? Why is it that we feel better about ourselves when we are suffering? As Ann Voscamp asked yesterday, “Why would a woman rather scrub the grime of the tile grout in the bathroom for her husband — rather than say yes to his wooing?”

    And thank you, all, for “getting” me.

  14. 14
    Michelle

    You are a blessing and encouragement to me. Each post I read (some get overlooked if the Inbox is too full) always give me a chuckle and a reminder that “there are others like me”.

  15. 15
    Wendy

    Timely. I can relate on multiple levels. Specifically the guilt (?) I initially felt when seeking an in-home daycare provider on an “as needed” basis” for our two year old, and making the decision to send our big kids to school for the first time this year.

    “I hate appearing weak even though I am.”.

    I think that sort of describes why I felt the need to justify my actions:
    “My husband is away for six months with the military. We’re moving overseas. I need to make appointments, fill out reams of paperwork, stand in long lines, purchase things we won’t have in a corrupt and remote location. Errands, packing, purging.”

    Blah. Blah. The simple truth is, I just need a break. I don’t need to have a to-do list a mile long in order to justify having someone else watch my adopted, hyperactive child. A little quiet time with coffee and nobody asking questions or needing me is just fine.

    We have the false assumption that if we don’t do it all, without help from a.n.y.o.n.e. we are failures. He and I are in agreement. This may not be our ideal, but neither is him being away for an extended period of time. We want mom to be sane, and the children loved when he returns, not just emotionally scraping by and clawing at one another’s eyes out.

    As it turns out, there are Christians who send their kids to school and, yes, even daycare and still love their children and teach them God’s word. Until we walk in the shoes that we never thought we’d wear, it is easy to say I could never do _______.

    (Amy, If you show up on my doorstep after May, it will be you and the new resident in for a surprise!)

  16. 16

    Amy, I almost always like your writing and I think you nearly always write from the heart, but the number of times over the years that you have felt the need to apologize or justify your actions to your readers must make you a little crazy. At least it would me.

    I understand why you’ve felt it necessary and I’m sure you’re right, but I want you to know that there are some of us who aren’t out to criticize every little private family decision you make even if we would (or think we would) choose differently for ourselves.

    Please keep writing if you feel able, even if it’s about dead livestock.

  17. 17
    Patricia Norton+

    I love your wit and your honesty pleases me. Often the humans that say the the most condemning words are the very ones not dealing with their own sin issues. We all have challenges I find your blog very humorous and I have missed reading. I kept praying for you and your family as I was afraid you may have been grieving for your sister (((hugs))) Glad you are posting again

  18. 18
    Molly T

    You seriously felt guilty for using childcare at the gym? I loved those two hours the year we had a membership during my pgcy and birth w/ our 5th(!). Now that we have 7 and the two oldest are teenagers, I find it therapeutic to be able to leave for a spell to run errands and stop the van at a scenic park and catch my thoughts on paper amidst restorative beauty. I take advantage of it regularly, because it’s possible now, and frankly rather necessarily refreshing. Speaking of kids and also education, do you have 7 now too? I was saying today how the real Golden Thread, as I call it, of education is fulfilling the call in Deut 6 to teach our children to know God through the walk-and-talk dialogue as you go through daily life together. Thank God He doesn’t require the uberspiritual daily family devotions, though I aspire to reach such heights of discipline. Somehow even homeschooling we haven’t made that consistently happen, but I don’t miss out on the Deut 6 diligence of speaking to the heart issues each day, especially as I am homeschooling a bunch of sinners, starting with me. :-) Homeschooling provides optimal availability for that Golden Thread to be woven, but doesn’t guarantee it will be done, just like enrolling kids in school does not guarantee that the walk-and-talk won’t be happening when they are home or in the car. Ultimately, the important thing is that it’s being woven.

  19. 19
    Sandra English

    I think everyone vacillates between wanting to be an idol and wanting to have an idol (or two, or three, or twenty). We are broken cisterns and so are our offspring. The devil speaks to our pride and tells us that perfection is possible and if we could only make our lives perfect or better yet, our children’s lives perfect, everything would be all right. The reality as we know, is it is never perfect. But, as I tell my daughter-in-law-mother of two toddlers, though never perfect, there are brief shining moments that are are really, really good and there is comfort through the majority of the rest of life that God is redeeming even the truly awful times. (My friend and I once took our small children to the beach for a week and left our children for a couple of hours at a Government Day Care on a Military Base. Her husband was a retired Marine) Looking back, that was not my best moment as a mother. When the devil is body slamming you with your failures, just let Keith Green sing There is a Redeemer in the depth of your soul.

  20. 20

    “Stuff finds us even when we’re not looking for it.” AMEN TO THAT.True wisdom there.

  21. 21
    Molly

    A self-correction on my use of the term “uberspiritual” for daily family devotions-as if there is something to be criticized and not esteemed for Godly devotion to teaching one’s family all together each day. I am a fan of it and wish we did it more (-:!


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