When my boss was here last week, we did my quarterly performance review. His primary piece of guidance to me: Relax. I am a conscientious person, which is a good thing, but it also can mean that I need to chill out a lot of the time lest I drive myself and everyone around me crazy. I've been thinking about this in various areas of my life, and I think it would be a good goal for all of them, especially as I move toward parenthood. So in the months that follow, I'm making it my goal to contemplate this verse:
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
I don't want to be chilled out simply because I'm a relaxed surfer dude (which I'm not and never will be), but because my trust and hope is in God and my mind is steadfast or, more literally, "stayed on God." I looked up all the translations of this verse, and my favorite is still by far the good ol' NIV '84, but here are my personal translations for my own situations:
"You will keep me in perfect peace in my work because my mind is not fixed on myself and my own ability to please everyone and be perfect, but because I trust in you for my acceptance, idendity and provision."
So often when I'm anxious at work, it is because I am focused on myself and my own brute attempts to make people like me, to be a "good worker" and, ultimately, to make money. But ultimately, my trust should be in God, who doesn't fail or change, rather than me, who fails and changes fortnightly.
"You will keep my mind in perfect peace on rainy days when no one wants to buy ice cream and on sunny days when the line is out the door and we are understaffed. You will keep my mind in perfect peace when our gelato case breaks and there are sticky fingerprints on the doors and the numbers aren't what they should be, because my mind is not fixed on our own ability to "succeed" but on you, because we put our hope for provision in you and not ourselves and not the weather."
One of the things we've learned in our short life as ice cream moguls is how weather dependent we are. Now we have experienced perhaps the smallest hint of what a farmer must feel when he sees the hail clouds approaching. We could torture ourselves with worry over the weather and the myriad things that can and do go wrong, but our hope isn't in sunny skies or even a successful business, but in God.
"You will keep my mind in perfect peace even when I'm gaining weight above the curve recommended for pregnant women because my mind is fixed on you and not my hips, because I trust in you for my identity and not slim thighs."
I always need to chill out in the weight department, and pregnancy has turned out to be no different. It is hard to watch the scale creep up at ever increasing rates when I have worked so hard daily to not let it do that. The scary part is the fear that I will never lose it again because, pardon my French, losing weight is a bitch. But my hope in this life is not in my pant size, it's in God.
"You will keep my mind in perfect peace because my mind is fixed on you and not on my own ability to control situations, be the perfect mom, or ensure my chosen course for my child's life, because my trust is not in circumstances or myself, but my trust is in you as the true Father and Maker of my child."
As I've mentioned, I've had a relatively worry-free pregnancy thus far, thank God. But, as many of my mother friends have told me, something switches in your brain when you become a mother and your heart is suddenly running around outside of yourself. On the positive side, God somehow fills mothers with incredible, sacrificial love (perhaps a small shadow of his own), but on the other hand, this newfound love has driven many a mom mad with worry. A friend of mine was telling me the other day how her sister, even now that her baby is over 1 year old, wakes up several times a night to check that her child is still breathing (even though the child is perfectly healthy).
I've been reading a book that focuses on Psalm 139, and it's quite a different experience to read this passage from the perspective of the host womb, rather than the perspective of the child, as I always have:
"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
It's amazing to know that these words I have always treasured for myself are true for the little girl in me. God is paying far more attention to "knitting her together" than I am. (I'm just laying here on the couch eating chocolate covered macademia nuts.) His eyes are on my child, and he is her Maker.
I bring it up because isn't this the most freeing thought when it comes to parenting? I am not alone with my inadequate love and abilities and temper to be a "good" mom. My child is God's before she is mine. I have responsibility for her as a steward or as a hostess, if you will, but it is God who ultimately is the Father. So once again, I can relax because my hope is not in myself, but in God.