Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
See on the portals He’s waiting and watching
Watching for you and for me.”
With the Lenten season beginning, I wanted to write a post that focuses on this sacred time of the year — specifically with mamas in mind.
As you probably know, it is common for Christians to “give-up” something for the 40-day period we know as Lent. During this time, we often see friends deleting their social media, resisting carbs, and swearing-off Netflix binges.
It has also become common for Christians to “take-up” something during this season — either instead of or in addition to — giving something up. It is common for Christians to take-up a daily bible study, a daily prayer meditation, or something similar. However, I have seen friends take-up things like going to a workout class twice a week, eating a salad per day, or reading a chapter from a book each night.
There are varying views on what “giving-up” and “taking-up” should look like during Lent. Personally, I believe the things we give-up and/or take-up should serve a primary purpose: to draw us closer to Jesus. The things we give-up and take-up may also serve secondary purposes — like benefitting our mental or physical health, or building better relationships with those around us — and that is great, too!
For example, swearing-off Netflix binges may not seem like something that would draw someone closer to Jesus. However, if the person who has decided to give-up Netflix normally spends several hours a day watching mindless TV shows — freeing up that time to do something else (like maybe taking-up a bible study class) could help them draw nearer to Jesus. I especially see this as being true if the types of Netflix shows and flicks this person generally consumes are far from God-honoring.
Furthermore, if you are a person who tends to idolize food — specifically unhealthy food — giving up carbs or choosing to eat healthier could most definitely draw you closer to Jesus. The point is to make Jesus your primary purpose, though. If you decide to take-up that new hot yoga class on Wednesdays because you want your instagram selfies to get more likes — drawing nearer to Jesus is clearly not your goal.
That being said, I want to share with you two things us mama’s can give-up and take-up during this season of Lent that will help draw us nearer to Jesus — and also help us to be better mamas!
1. Give up the gossip
We all do it, mama. Whether we are chatting with our closest mom friend, catching up on the phone with our sister, or venting to our husband about #momlife — we often fall victim to the sin of gossip. Why?
Because it’s interesting. And because it’s easy. Our gossip can be the focus of a conversation or merely just a conversation-filler.
“So-and-so did what to who? I have got to tell Barb about this ASAP, she will just die.”
“Oh, speaking of Pamela — did you hear about what’s going on with her husband?”
We do it so often we don’t think much of it — and sometimes we don’t even notice we’re doing it! It seems harmless, right? Especially if it’s about someone you barely know. Or if it’s about something that isn’t exactly a secret.
But it’s not harmless, mama.
Gossip is hurtful — to those we gossip about, to those we gossip with, to ourselves, and even to our children. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”Ephesians 4:29
We are to speak in ways that build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we are speaking about them or to them, we should use words of grace. As I said, gossip in hurtful to all of those directly — and even indirectly — involved.
Gossip is hurtful to those directly involved (us, the person or people we’re gossiping with, and those we are gossiping about) for obvious reasons. Without realizing it, we are most likely trying to build ourselves up by cutting others down. We may even be trying to gain the approval of the person we are conversing with. Whatever the reasons, we are doing everyone a disservice when we gossip.
What may not be as obvious is how gossiping is hurtful to our children, too. As mamas, we are constantly modeling for them. We model what it means to be kind. We model what it means to be a strong follower of Christ. We model what it means to be patient. Essentially, we model what it means to be *insert any word here.*
If we are not careful, we could be modeling things we don’t want our children to emulate — like partaking in gossip. If our child came home and started gossiping about a classmate, we would probably say something like, “Now it’s not very nice to say those things about our friends, is it?”
So why do we do it? Chances are, our children are learning from us — they think it’s okay because they overhear us at the kitchen table with our friend gabbing away about so-and-so while they’re playing with their toys.
If you find gossip to be a sin you struggle with, consider giving it up for Lent this season. It will definitely require some work to break a bad habit and hold your tongue — especially if your regular social group is keen on gossiping. But, I promise it will be worth it mama.
So join with me this Lenten season and give-up the gossip. Instead, let us focus on building others up and honoring Christ with the words we speak.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”Ephesians 4:32
2. Take up weekly fellowship
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be in regular fellowship with other believers. Walking alongside others who are also pursuing Christ is extremely beneficial — and in my opinion, necessary — for our spiritual growth.
Fellowship is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, either. It looks a little different for everyone, so don’t think your weekly fellowship has to be an hour-long bible study that involves reading and analyzing the entire book of Isaiah over the course of a month. That kind of weekly fellowship may work for you — as it does many others — but more often than not, this type of fellowship simply doesn’t work for us mamas.
Fellowship can be as simple as meeting up in a local coffee shop with a few of your closest gal pals and just talking all things life. I do recommend keeping your conversations aimed toward positivity and growth, though. A thirty-minute venting session may help you feel better in the moment, but I promise it isn’t going to draw you nearer to Jesus.
However you choose to fellowship — I encourage you to open up your heart to those you’re with. My spiritual life has been greatly enhanced by the relationships I have developed through partaking in fellowship with other women — mamas and non-mamas alike.
I know partaking in fellowship weekly is a lot to commit to — especially as a mama. But, it doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. By that I mean, try to commit to a weekly fellowship during these next forty days of Lent even if it is hard. This will help you settle into a rhythm of fellowship and build solid foundations with those you meet with. Once Lent ends, you can consider moving your fellowship to bi-weekly or monthly if it better fits your life and schedule.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”1 John 1:3
3. Give up your guilt
We all have it, mama — lots of it. I do not think a day has gone by since becoming a mom that I have not felt guilt about something. I have even felt guilty about not feeling guilty. Yep, true story. For some reason, us mamas are particularly hard on ourselves when it comes to mommin’.
But this season, I am determined to let it go. Guilt is a joy killer — it is satan’s strongest weapon against a fierce mama bear.
Guilt moves us further away from Jesus. He bled and died for us on that cross to pay for our sins — to eliminate guilt and shame. So while we sit and marinate in all things mama-guilt, we are really sending Jesus the message, “thanks for the nice gesture and all, but I’m going to keep this guilt right here in my pocket.”
So join with me in letting it go, mama. Obviously we are not perfect and the guilt is still going to creep up from time to time — but we can say “no” when it does. We can choose to tell satan to kick rocks and hit the road. We can instead focus on the promises of Jesus — freedom, grace, and life.
…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”Psalm 103:12
4. Take up daily meditation/prayer/reading
This is definitely my favorite one of all. It seems like such a simple — maybe even cliche — thing to take-up for Lent, but it is so transformational! I actually took this up for last year’s Lenten season when I found myself in a rut. I had just become a mama a few months earlier and my daily routine was out of whack. Crazy infant sleep schedules and daily routines threw me for a loop as a new mom. I immediately found myself neglecting spending time in God’s Word or in prayer daily.
After a few months of this, I felt a gaping hole in my life — you know, that Jesus-sized hole we all have in our hearts — tugging at me. So as the 2019 Lenten season approached, I committed to at least thirty minutes a day with Jesus. How I spent that time looked different each day. Most days I studied His Word, others I simply spent thirty minutes in prayer, and some days — the really tough ones — I sat and just meditated on Him.
Since my schedule as a new mama was pretty wacky, the thirty minutes a day was not always at the same time. If my daughter happened to nap for awhile in the morning, I would use thirty minutes of that time to read, pray, or meditate. The days where I held my daughter all day long while she fussed, I ended up spending those thirty minutes in her nursery rocking chair during the early hours of the morning.
If you choose to take up a daily time with Jesus — and I truly hope you do — be flexible. Trying to make a rigid schedule or plan will only discourage you when you face a day where you can’t find the time or energy to spend thirty minutes at the kitchen table studying the book of Romans. On those extra crazy days in #momlife, let Jesus meet you there.
You don’t have to pencil Him in at a specific time, say a fancy prayer, or read a bible passage that causes some sort of revelation in your life to have intimacy with Him.
Many of my favorite times with Jesus have been times where I was so exhausted, drained, and run-down, I couldn’t even form a prayer in my mama-brain. I would simply sit there and meditate on Him and let Him meet me where I was at. I would sit there rocking my sweet baby girl as His love and comfort washed over me.
It has been a year now since I started this daily commitment and I am still doing it, mama! I have no plans to stop, either. Of course there have been days I have fallen short of my commitment, but that’s okay because #momlife happens. I just focus on the next day! I have seen such a transformation in my spiritual life since last year — and I truly believe this transformation has also translated into motherhood.
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
I hope you found these suggestions helpful for this year’s Lenten season, mama. I would love to hear about what you have chosen to give-up and/or take-up for the next forty days.
What poor habits are you hoping to abandon? Or what good habits are you hoping to form?
How are you planning to draw nearer to our Lord during this sacred time of year?