The Greatest Influence of a Life

For the hand that rocks the cradle,
Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace

The influence of a mother is undeniable. The influence can be good, or not so good, … or some of both.

The topic of motherhood is full of emotion, for many reasons - the great mother who has passed away, the absent mother (physically or emotionally) that left a hole in a child’s life, the unfulfilled desire to be a mother, mother of children of another mother. [The complexities of motherhood will be explored in the next blog post.]

Even as I write this, I am full of emotion, thinking about my own mother. Even though she passed away over 7 years ago, I still talk to her in my mind everyday. Her presence is felt always.

My mother gave me a sense of self-confidence, a feeling of being loved always, and a positive spiritual influence. She wasn’t perfect, but she was a great mom. Her life has shown me that I don’t have to be perfect but I can still strive to be great.

Mothers have the most remarkable ability to love their children endlessly, no matter what. When we do that, we show them how God loves.

Our culture sends the message that achievement outside the home is more significant.

Without a debate on working versus staying home, moms that choose to work inside the home, raising their kids are doing a very significant and valuable job, one that no one else can fill!

Influence ……
The influence of a mother upon the lives of her children cannot be measured. They know and absorb her example and attitudes when it comes to questions of honesty, temperance, kindness, and industry. Billy Graham

Paul wrote to Timothy about the great influence of faith, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5

Susanna Wesley gave birth to 19 children (10 survived past infancy). She had a strong spiritual impact on them. Two became great pastors who founded the Methodist church. John Wesley said of his mother, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”

See the next post about the complexities of motherhood and fulfillment.

How To Live In A New Family

Two times in our lives we have the opportunity to have a new family – one is a spiritual family, the family of God, and the other is when we get married. Both times, God tells to leave the old behind and be united or to be one with the new.

What does that mean and why is it important? 

Many problems in marriage come from a lack of oneness in marriage. That lack of oneness often has its roots in a failure to leave the family of origin.

What does it mean to “leave” the family you grew up in?

It DOES NOT mean you:
  • Love them less 
  • Quit seeing them 
  • Don’t talk to them 
  • Don’t ask for advice 
It DOES mean that you:
  • Love your spouse as much or more than your parents/family 
  • Make your spouse a priority 
  • Are loyal to your spouse above anyone 
  • Are no longer under the authority of your parents 
  • Respect and honor your parents 
  • Go to your spouse first with a problem 
  • Decide as a couple what your values are 
  • Still see and spend time with your family 
  • Are the one who manages conflict with your own parents, rather than your spouse 
No matter what the situation or what our parents are like, we are to show them honor and respect - no matter what. That part never changes. We speak respectfully and honor their role as a parent.

Leaving your family is often difficult. It is hard to make that transition from talking to your mom/dad/sibling about events and feelings first, to talking to your spouse first.

Because it takes awhile for a couple to learn how to support each other and communicate, sometimes it is easier to go to your parents.

Your parents may give you advice whether you ask for it or not. We are to continue to be respectful but to make decisions about our new family with our spouse.

Many concurrent themes run through the Bible about leaving/uniting in marriage and leaving our old life to unite with Christ. See below for more info.

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.  C.S. Lewis

When we receive the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ, we are to leave behind the ways of the world and follow the Lord.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:22-24

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things….. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived…. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self.   Colossians 3:2, 7-10

See our next blog about the big picture and being united.

How to Love Well

From a very young age, we each want the people in our world to love us. We do things to get attention or to get approval. “If I do something nice for them, they will love me more.”

The universality of love confirms the central role it plays in life. Everyone wants to love and be loved.

Unfortunately, the weight falls to the “be loved” part of the equation for most people. We are more concerned about feeling loved than we are about giving love.

I wonder what would happen if we truly loved unconditionally - no matter what - expecting nothing in return.

It’s one thing to love someone, but to express that love in a way that the other person receives it - that’s another level.

Gary Chapman is well-known for his book, The Five Love Languages. He proposes the idea that everyone has one main way that we hear “the language of love.” He breaks down the five languages into Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical touch.

We think that we should go beyond those five. We believe that we should each be a “student of our mate.” I should study my spouse all of the time, so that I know how to express love to my spouse in a way that he can recognize it and receive it.

Even if “Acts of Service” is my spouse’s language, I need to know which acts are most important. I may think that I am being loving when I give him a gift, but he doesn’t care about it. He wants me to run some errands for him. Then, he knows that I love him!

Love is not an affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.  C.S. Lewis

Rooted in Love ……
He loved us not because we are lovable, but because He is love. C.S. Lewis

I am incapable of loving unconditionally and without end. That’s right - it’s impossible for me. I can only love as God loves if He lives in me and through me. I do not have the capacity to love like that on my own.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Ephesians 3:17b-18

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11

Dissipation of Love ….
That hunk of burning love that existed before marriage often gradually dissipates after marriage.

What happens?
  • I equate real love with that “hunk of burning love”. When the passion diminishes (and it will!), I think that I have lost the love.
  • I think my presence in the marriage shows my love, without doing anything else. Most people need some kind of connection to recognize the love of another. The connection could be touch, words, actions, or attention. 
  • I think that the same things mean love to my spouse that mean love to me. I may want my spouse to do something to show love, but my spouse wants me to give a hug. So, I keep doing things, but my mate doesn’t see the love without the affection.
  • When I don’t see love from my spouse, I quit giving love. My love is predicated on what he does or doesn’t do. I am not really loving unconditionally. I give out of what I receive from the other person, rather than giving from what I receive from God. My spouse isn’t capable of meeting my needs for love - only God can do that! 
  • We don’t intentionally work to strengthen our marriage. Neglect isn’t helpful. We don’t plan fun times together or set aside time to connect everyday. 
  • We allow relationships or activities to take precedent over our marriage. We may let our kids, parents, work, or hobbies to take more of our timed and/or attention.
Love Motives ....
When an action doesn’t come naturally to you, it is a greater expression of love. Gary Chapman

What is my motive for showing love to another person? 

Most of us don’t think about our motives. But usually I want something back from my friend or my spouse.

I may want to feel loved by another; I want that feeling that I am worthy to be loved.

I may want the other person to do something for me.

Or maybe I feel like I have fulfilled my duty by showing love to another.

Most of us want a deep, intimate connection with another person. We think we can achieve that by expressing love to them, so they will love me back, care about me, and connect with me. We confuse love’s actions with connection.

What if my motive was to see joy in that person?

Put the glory of Christ on display by pursuing your joy in the holy joy of your beloved. Love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved.  John Piper