The Muddy Hill

 

As we were getting ready to leave for church on Sunday, my son checked the mail. Seeing that there was mail in the box, I told him to go put it on the coffee table. Moments later he runs to me and says, “Mom, I’m muddy.” He had taken the hill instead of the driveway back to the van. I instructed him to go wash his hands and change his pants, but to hurry so we wouldn’t be late. A couple minutes later here comes my son running towards the hill… again! The same hill that he came down and got all muddy from. Really child! You just had to go change because of that muddy hill, but you’re choosing to take it again?

I yelled at him to not take the hill. He veered off and jumped into the driveway arriving in the van without mud on his clothing.

As I put the car in drive to head to church, I was still in disbelief that he was seconds away from getting another pair of pants dirty and possibly making us late for church. But then I started thinking of all the times I did not learn my lesson the first time. How many times I went down the “muddy hill”, got covered in mud, and had to change.

Sometimes it takes some practice to learn that the path we once took is not the path we should take again.

My “muddy hill”- the approval and opinion of others. For the majority of my life, other people’s opinions mattered way TOO much! I lived to make other people think I was a happy-go-lucky, fun, outgoing, perfect person. It did not matter if I was happy, only that people thought I was happy. It did not matter that I am really an introvert, people need me to be the life of the party, so that I became. I cared way too much about what people thought. I never really knew who I was when I was not pretending to be whoever I thought they needed me to be.

This is still something that the Holy Spirit is working out in me. Who am I if I am not a wife? A mom? A teacher? A friend? A homeschooling parent?

I mean I know I am a child of God. I know I belong to Him. I know I am his masterpiece. But… sometimes… sometimes I get too caught up in myself… I get too caught in the desire to be liked… I get too caught up in keeping up with my image… I get too caught up in living for the approval of others…

For so long I would take a picture TO put it on social media and let everyone think I had a great life. It did not matter that that picture was completely staged, and no one really wanted to take it. I needed life to be documented so people would think highly of me. Rather than making memories and sharing them, I was forcing pictures to stage a good life. It was fake. It was a front. It was something I felt like I needed to do. I needed the approval of others.

My husband does not live for the approval of others. In fact, he does not care at all if you disapprove. It’s his life, and he will live it the best he can. He has always been this way, and it used to drive me crazy! One day a few years ago he started pointing out my desire to be approved on social media. At first, I just thought he had a problem with Facebook. I did not heed this advice well… an ongoing issue with my pride… but the very next time I staged a memory to post on Facebook, I saw it.  My motive for taking pictures was to be liked, not to capture memories.

You would think I learned my lesson here… nope… I found myself right back at that “muddy hill” over and over again. Like that next Christmas when everyone was sending out their awesome Christmas cards with pictures of their beautiful families on it. I suddenly felt the need to share an amazing photo of my family. Never mind that I have the cutest family ever, and I have a million photos of the cuteness on my phone. I had this need to let everyone see a perfect family photo-especially since everyone else was sharing theirs… CONVICTION! Honestly, I am not sure if this was 100% the “muddy hill” of need for approval or the “muddy hill” of comparison. Either way, it’s a “muddy hill” I have been down. A “muddy hill” I know better than to go down. A “muddy hill” that has left me chasing likes and comments on Facebook rather than peace and comfort from God.

That “muddy hill” was there on Valentine’s Day. Get a quick cute staged photo of your kids to post… NO RENEE! Just go enjoy the day with your family. As the day went on, I found my kids sitting around the table making each other cards and cutting out hearts. I smiled to soak it in. I did snap a photo to remember the memory they were making. Soon they will be grown up and making their husband or wife Valentine’s Day gifts. And I will have a treasure in my heart. I will have memories made around the table. Not forced pictures of a holiday they did not really care about.

Oh, look there’s that “muddy hill” again- It’s a beautiful day outside. Let’s go make a memory to post on social media…. RENEE!!! Do not get all muddy! Go enjoy the beautiful day with your family. Play in your backyard or walk to the park. But only take pictures to capture memories NOT gain approval of others. At the end of the day, likes on Facebook are on Facebook. No one cares, except you. But quality time spent with your family is a blessing that you could miss with misplaced motives.

By the grace of God, I realized that living for man’s approval would always have me falling short. I could always have gotten a better picture. I could always have gotten more “likes.” Living for the approval of man is nothing more than building my own kingdom. A kingdom on shifting sand that will bend and fall.

The only opinion worth living for is God’s. It is far better to be a good person than for someone to believe you are a good person. But even more than that- It is better to be a good person because I know I am loved by my heavenly Father, and I want to reflect His light! It is far better to admit I am weak and need help than for others to believe I have it all together. Trust me- I do not have it all together. All sin and fall short. It is a regular prayer of mine, “Jesus fill me.” I am a work in progress. Slowly being transformed into the image of Christ. That “muddy hill” was much harder to avoid two years ago. Today it’s a thought that is quickly passed over as I get to enjoy the blessings around me.

Don’t let the need of approval steal your joy! Avoid that “muddy hill!” Embrace your blessings every day!

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All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.

Proverbs 16:2

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