Lately my mind has been going back to some of the most awkward, uncomfortable, cringe-worthy moments in my life. It’s not something I’m doing on purpose – these memories just keep popping into my mind, uninvited.
It’s not a very pleasant experience, remembering times that I spoke or acted in a way that I now look back on in humiliation.
Why did I say that? I keep wondering. What was I thinking?
I believe the Lord is trying to teach me something by bringing these moments back to my mind. One big thing that stands out to me, is that almost all these moments were caused by me saying something. This highlights the wisdom to me of verses like Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
As I reflect, I think – how many of those moments could have been avoided, how much embarrassment could I have saved myself, if I had just kept quiet?
When my grandfather died a few years ago, someone said at his funeral, “He didn’t speak much, but when he did, you knew you better listen up, because it would be worth hearing.”
I want to be that kind of person. The kind of person who people want to listen to, because I only say things that are worth saying.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about one of these awkward moments in particular, with a different lesson in it.
It was when I was a teenager, and preparing to go on a local, short-term mission trip. The kind where you run activities for children of different ages for a few hours each day during the summer holidays (“Beach Mission”, for those in the know 😉 ).
The year in question, I think our team was having trouble finding enough people to run the mission, and there was talk about it not going ahead.
Somehow, whether through dreams or ideas I picked up during my prayer journalling times, I got the idea that for the mission to go ahead, I needed to pull out. In my mind, I was like Jonah and the mission was the boat destined for Ninevah – if I got on, the whole mission would go down with me.
(I know, it sounds so ridiculous that I actually thought that. Believe me – it is super embarrassing to share my thoughts from that time.)
Not only did I thoroughly believe this, I sent an email to the team directors explaining my concerns, referring to my self-as-Jonah analogy (*cringe*) and letting them know that I wouldn’t be coming on team that year.
One of the directors kindly emailed me back and, with not a hint of condescension, told me that whether or not I came on mission was my choice, but that the fate of the rest of the team did not lie in the hands of one person. That God is sovereign, and only He controls the success of the mission, not whether or not one person comes on board.
It was incredibly humbling to hear his reply at the time, but I am very thankful for his gentle correction at a time when I was quite deluded.
I don’t know if he used the words “Messiah Complex”, but it’s clear to me as I look back, that that’s what I had going on.
Urban Dictionary’s definition really resonates with me, and what my mindset was at that time (emphasis mine):
A state of mind/state of being, which within the reality of the individual(s) possessing the ‘complex’ (sub)consciously feel that they bear the weight of the world and that their actions and words embolden others and may be a significant catalyst of changing the course of the world for the better. While that may or may not at times be true, the individual(s) consistently envision (quasi) prophetic projections of the future which de-synchronize them from what many call ‘living in the present’ which often in turn leaves them with a constant darkness about them, making it immensely difficult to be content with the world and it’s happenings, great or ill. As such, they feel cornered and feel as if there is no option but to take on that role of the ‘savior’. Because after all, who else will?
Yep, that was me – a big, old wet blanket, carrying the weight of the world.
And as I have reflected on this, among other “ugh, what was I thinking?!?” moments, I’ve realised that I have a bit of a Messiah Complex going in my mothering at times.
Sometimes I think, “If I don’t spend enough time praying and reading the Bible with the kids, they won’t decide to follow God when they’re older.”
Or, “If I don’t work on developing this character trait in my daughter, she’ll grow up being a total brat.”
Or any number of thoughts that follow the formula If I don’t…, then… .
When I think this way, I forget that God is sovereign and I am not. I act as though I am in control, and the cosmic buck stops with me.
Certainly, there are practices and thoughts that are good, worthwhile things to pursue in my mothering. Reading the Bible and praying with the kids is a good thing. Developing specific character traits is a good thing.
But I should do these things because they are good, not because I want to control a certain outcome.
And I should remember that my failure to do them perfectly (or even at all, sometimes) does not equal failure to secure the destinies of our kids.
God says that in our weaknesses, His power is made perfect.
My times of weakness are not cause for despair. They are cause for rejoicing, because they are an opportunity for me to lean more fully on God and His power.
I don’t need to be perfect. His grace is enough for me.
Because there is only one Messiah, and I’m not it.