Originally published Friday, 28 December 2012.
I like when things are black & white. When there is an easy answer.
It makes me happy.
Maybe it's the "Judger" in me (for you Myers-Briggs aficionados out there).
I like fixing things and finding solutions and solving puzzles and knowing that I found the very best possible answer. Completed. Done. Perfectly finished.
But then I remember His grace.
God's amazing, wonderful, overflowing grace.
Through His grace we were given the only completely correct answer in life to the most important question. The One Way to heaven, found through Christ. Perfectly black & white.
But the more I read His Word the more I realize, there's also a lot of gray in the Christian life.
I have lots of ideas and opinions for my life, for motherhood, but there isn't much among my opinions that I could, or should, truly call "black and white."
What is absolute truth? Completely, objectively true? The only truly "black and white" that we must live by?
God's Word. My sin. His love. His sacrifice. My salvation through His Son. That's it. The End.
Does God's Word say I should co-sleep? Or let my baby cry it out? Feed on demand or put him on a schedule? Cloth diaper or disposable? Have a completely natural birth or schedule a C-section? I really haven't found absolute answers in His Word on these topics.
So I won't venture to give you any unsolicited instruction on them either.
And neither should your peers. Or your mother. Or mother-in-law.
Or the well meaning lady at Walmart who is preaching the gospel of "I know all there is to know about motherhood because I had 75 kids 130,000 years ago."
All I know is God is concerned about us. Deeply, lovingly concerned. About our souls and the condition of our hearts.
He has made each one of us so very different. Different bodies, different personalities, different purposes. So much gray.
Yet, we all have been given the same path to salvation. Christ. So very black & white.
Same Savior, but not the same life purpose. Same Lord, but not the same parenting style.
When I became pregnant, I started reading all I could, trying to pray and think through my new job, "Professional Mother." Gathering training and knowledge for this mighty task anywhere I could find it.
And I promised myself something.
I reserve the right to take a little or a lot from any parenting philosophy I choose... that doesn't clash with God's Word.
No matter what anyone thinks or says.
I don't have to swallow an entire parenting philosophy whole. I can co-sleep and spank, if I want. I can let my child cry it out and still breastfeed for 3 years, if I see fit. I can proudly, happily have a C-section and still encapsulate my placenta, if I choose.
I can even work full-time outside the home. Or part-time. Or work from home. Or go back to work in a few years. Or never again.
Because none of these things are commanded in the Bible. And none of them are prohibited either.
Wondering which decisions I made? Well, I'm not telling.
Because this isn't about me or the decisions I did, or didn't, make during or after my pregnancy.
This is about following closely after God, first and foremost.
Loving His children. Obeying His black & white instructions given in His Word.
And recognizing my choices, and the research or recommendations of other brilliant-but-still-fallen human beings might be wonderful...
But none of it is The Gospel.
We have freedom to choose... outside of God's black and white commands.
Each one of us has the freedom to choose for ourselves. To research and discuss what we think is best. To seek God's individual guidance on gray areas and ask how He would like us to handle these issues in our family.
I can fill my plate with a sampling from every pregnancy, birthing, and parenting philosophy known to man.
I can choose what's best for me, for my child, our family. It doesn't all have to line up with what one single book says or what one specific person thinks.
The only book I have to heed in its entirety is the Bible. Non-negotiable.
But everything else? Babywise? Nourishing Traditions? Dr. Sears? The Bradley Method? Take it or leave it.
As long as it doesn't contradict God's word.
As long as these gray areas, these various philosophies, don't keep me from loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. From loving my neighbor as myself. From extending to others the grace and mercy God gives to sinners like prostitutes and tax-collectors... and me.
I love selecting from the buffet of advice, philosophies, books and websites. There are a lot of options. I may make completely different choices with the next kid and the next one. In fact, I probably should. I'm sure they will each be different.
But one thing will never change. The supremacy of God's Truth. Everything else is an ocean of gray.
A prayer for you today...
God, help me and my husband to make the best decisions for myself and my child. Guide us as we navigate the sea of information and resources available to us.
But also keep me humble and open to the different paths You may have set out for those around me. Remind me that what is black and white is stated clearly in Your Word, everything else is gray.
3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
Have you felt condemned or pressured by other moms concerning "gray areas" where God gives us freedom? Is it difficult for you to see the "gray areas" yourself? Do you struggle viewing parenthood practices as purely black & white for all of us? I'd love to hear from you.