Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Bono of MOPS

In January of 2005 I attended a MOPS meeting. I didn't know many of the girls there. I hadn't "connected" with any of them yet. And oh, I so wasn't into the crafts. But I had a 16 month old and a 4 month old and I wanted and desperately needed the encouragement to new moms that MOPS provided.

I had a wonderful husband, and a lovely home. I was a stay at home mom - my career goal had finally been achieved. My son was blond, beautiful, and brilliant. My daughter was raven haired, with rosebud lips, and was sleeping through the night.

It was all I had ever dreamed of.

And my husband had just told me that, because of me, he had just experienced the absolutely worst Christmas of his entire life.

The speaker on this day was named Courtney. She was about ten years older than I, the mom of three teenage boys. Cute, athletic, and really hyper. She even made us get up and dance while she wore these huge sunglasses, and I am so not a get-up-and-dance-at-a-MOPS-meeting type of girl. I wondered if I should have just stayed at home.

But when she started speaking, my eyes began welling, then spilling with tears. I think she used some garden analogy - how we build a garden at our home, but then the bugs of comparison and perfection come and eat away all our flowers. So we work even harder, but the bugs keep coming. Something about trying so hard to be the perfect wife and mom, and despite all that, having it all fall flat. About being so stressed out over the goals you'd set for yourself that it was affecting your marriage. About wanting so hard to meet this convoluted standard, that when you failed daily, you didn't even enjoy being a mother to these babies you'd always wanted. About how much it hurt to feel like a failure at the end of every day.

She got it. She got me.

She spoke about how we need to let the standard go, and instead of trying to create the perfect home or the perfect children, to gain our sense of worth from Christ, who is absolutely perfect and yet never asked us to be.

I really, really needed to talk to her more.

Because, despite all the planning and work I had put into it, my husband had just told me that I had ruined Christmas.

She finished speaking and I sat at my table and prayed. God. I need to talk some more to this lady. You know I need to talk some more to this lady. Ok. I'm gonna go up to her. Oh, I feel like such a dork. What if she says no? Ok, God. If I am supposed to see her again, please make her be, well, welcoming. Please give me some kind of sign.

I waited sheepishly behind the line of those who also wanted a little facetime with Courtney. One of them was really crying. Courtney hugged her and prayed with her. Evidently she hit a chord with more girls than just myself. She was like, Bono for the MOPS set.

Finally it was my turn. Courtney looked at me, then my nametag, held her arms open wide and said "MISSY!!" and grabbed me and hugged me tight.

Um, so, was that a sign, God?

Turned out she had mistaken me for someone she knew. But I ran with it. "Um," I stammered. "I was just wondering. Could we maybe like, go to lunch sometime?" Don't let me cry. Please don't let me cry.

Courtney looked into my eyes. "I have to pray about it first, of course. But I think the answer is gonna be yes."

She called me the next day. When I said why don't we meet for lunch, she suggested she just come over and talk. We set a date, and she sat on my couch and listened.

And so it began. I had a mentor.

Now, I didn't even know what a mentor was. I didn't even know that I needed one. But God did, and he sent me Court. And I think that my match with Courtney was as uncanny and divine as my match with Walker.

Courtney knew exactly what a mentor was. She had been blessed by one herself, named Lynn, and had prayed about and trained herself to mentor other young women. She had started a mentoring ministry at her church. And, then one January, God led her straight to Little Miss You-Ruined-Christmas.

Court was not 80 years old, she was only about 45. She wasn't perfect, and she didn't have it all completely together. She still occasionally got mad at her husband and frustrated with her kids. She was neither holy, omnipotent nor omniscient.

But I'll tell you what she was. She was in love with Jesus Christ. She spent tons of time in his word, and on her knees before him. She was genuine and real. She did not claim to be the perfect wife or mom, she only claimed that, by the grace of God, she had come a very long way from when she had first had children. Although very wise, she was not a trained therapist, and in our first meeting she made it clear that if she ever felt that some of my issues were beyond her scope, she would immediately refer me to a wonderful Christian counselor whom she had seen herself. (They were, and she did.)

She agreed to meet with me every week at first, then every two weeks. She sent me notes in between, and called me, and emailed me bible verses that she said brought me to mind. She shared with me how hard it was for her to have three boys in four years, and how she worked through it. She listened, and she let me cry, she told me a lot of what I was feeling was normal. She convinced me that Jesus really, really loved me, so I could just quit exerting so much of my limited energy trying to earn his love. She flat out berated me when I kept "forgetting" to make an appointment with the counselor. And although she was not a baby person, she even offered to babysit when I went to my appointments.

Most of all, she loved me, and she covered me in prayer.

We met for several months. And then, our schedules conflicted, and we met more sporadically until we did not meet at all. By then I was seeing the counselor, Cindy, regularly and whaddayaknow, Court was right, I did need counseling! And whaddayaknow, counseling worked!

Christmas 2005 was good. Christmas 2006 was even better. Christmas 2007, y'all, it was fabulous.

This past Monday, I went to a MOPS meeting. I don't know many of the girls there yet, and I am so not into crafts. But I have a five year old, a four year old, a two year old and a one year old, and I desperately need the encouragement to moms that MOPS provides.

The speaker was Courtney. She spoke on the dilemma and the sin of comparing ourselves to other women. She was wonderful. She didn't make anyone get up and dance this time, and I was glad.

I smiled through her entire talk, remembering the last time I had sat in that room and heard her speak. It seems like a long, long time ago. I marveled at how I don't have a problem comparing myself with other women - - anymore.

Afterwards, I went back to the room to talk to this lady. She screamed "MISSY!!!" and grabbed me and hugged me tight. "How are you?"

"I'm good, Courtney. I'm really, really good."

"Oh, praise God, Missy."

Oh yes, I praise you God, for Courtney.

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