I have a weekly bit I do on my Instagram account called “Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday.” I invite readers, “Ask me anything, and I’ll answer as many questions as I can.” I don’t spend a significant portion of most days on social media (hello: ten kids), but I budget up to two hours (spread throughout the day) to answering questions each Wednesday.
I have been asked everything from what products I use on my hair and my best tips for potty training to my thoughts on different Christian denominations and how to have “the talk” with a child (more on that later). We cover a plethora of topics, and while I don’t shy away from the hard questions, I sometimes find myself biting my virtual tongue when it comes to certain questions.
What kind of questions?
I’m glad you asked. The queries that give me the most pause are not of the knotty theological variety, or even those that flirt with “mommy wars’’ topics, but the ones worded in such a way that implies that the person asking is determined to follow to the letter whatever my answer happens to be. Or, conversely, those that are worded with the obvious intent to “out me” for doing it wrong.
Yo, that’s a lot of pressure. To fashion our lives after anyone but Christ is a shaky enterprise indeed. And for anyone to use me as a litmus test for godliness is pure foolishness—not because I don’t get some things right by the grace of God but because I, just like everyone else, am capable of failing spectacularly. And if anyone’s hope is in my goodness, they will be disappointed. Guaranteed.
Paul said it best: “For when one of you says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos’… what then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, as the Lord has assigned to each his role” (1 Corinthians 3:4-5 bsb).
Only Christ Is Worth Emulating
And so I strive to remind my readers (and myself ) daily that as Jesus said in Mark 10:18, “No one is good—except God alone.” (Of course, Jesus said this knowing that he himself is God, a subtle declaration of his deity.) Not only that, but God has revealed his goodness to us in the pages of Scripture. So even though it can be super helpful to pick the brain of a mama who has “gone before” you on the path of motherhood (one of the reasons I wrote this book!), and Titus 2 gives a great outline for womanly mentorship, it’s crucial to ground in Christ alone any sense of identity that we hold. When we are secure in that identity, we can take anything anyone else says or does with a spiritual grain of salt—especially if that advice is grounded in anything other than Bible truth.
That’s not to say that we can’t glean truth from nonbelievers. Brené Brown and I differ greatly in our opinions about many things, and yet she spoke to this very issue when she said, “You either walk into your story and own your truth, or you live outside of your story, hustling for your worthiness.” Of course, this “bootstrap” mentality completely excludes the sovereignty of God, and yet the truth of it still rings. If we rely on others to reveal our purpose to us, rather than owning the truth of who God says we are in him (forgiven: 1 John 1:9; beloved: Colossians 3:12; precious: Isaiah 43:4; unique: Psalm 139:14), we will continually be chasing external approval, or even permission, to walk in the paths God has clearly laid out for us.
As I’ve already mentioned, the opposite response is also true. All too often, paying too much attention to what someone else is doing can cause us to feel threatened if it doesn’t align with our own paradigm—even if it’s something that shouldn’t matter at all (remember my insecure response to my friend’s pristine house?). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared a recipe only to be asked, “Are you sure that’s enough food for your whole family? I feel like my family of four eats more than that. ”The fact that another family’s food consumption genuinely concerns anyone proves that when we fix our eyes on others rather than Christ, we are capable of resenting, or at least second-guessing, just about anything.
The above excerpt is from the new book M is for Mama by Abbie Halberstadt. Abbie, a mother of ten, encourages women to reject the cultural lies of mediocre motherhood and strive for biblical truth and excellence as a mom. You can read more about Abbie below or visit misformama.net for more details.
Abbie Halberstadt is a writer, fitness instructor, and mama of ten children, including two sets of identical twins. Abbie lives by the motto that “hard is not the same as bad” and encourages woman to dig deep to meet the challenges of everyday life through her blog and Instagram posts. She, her husband, Shaun, and their children live in the Piney Woods of East Texas.