Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

Lately I have found myself involved in quite a few discussions regarding lifestyle choices; whether or not they matter in the grand scheme of things, whether or not they matter to God, and whether there is a "best" way of doing things.

The lifestyle choices I'm referring to have been geared toward family and children and have included things like: what to eat (organic or not), how to feed your baby (breast or formula), how to save your money, how to birth your baby (naturally or allopathically), babywise versus attachment parenting, how to diaper your child, when to start solids, how many toys to have, to co-sleep or not and so on. I think you get the point.

When we find ourselves needing to make these decisions, we must always ask ourselves,

"How does this line up with what the Bible says?"

But, when the Bible does not give a black and white answer to the question, "Should I eat organic or not" or "Should I birth my baby in a hospital or at a birthing center?" then where do we go? How do we decide what is best? And, is it really important which decision we choose?

So, of course, we do the research, use Godly wisdom, and then go from there. That part doesn't seem too difficult for us to figure out. The next part is where problems usually arise: when we have made the decision, the "optimal" choice for our family. We made a choice and now we feel strongly about that decision because we weighed out the pros and cons and chose what seemed "best" in comparison to all the other possible choices. There's nothing wrong with that, right? Right. The problem then is what this can potentially lead to; where our heart can become deceived. 

The question we inevitably end up with in our discussions is: "Does it really matter to God?" Does He really care what we eat, how we feed, clothe, or birth our children? Is there a "best" way? After having some time to think about it and discuss more with others and reflect on what the Bible says on the matters, the question changed. When it comes right down to it the question shouldn't be "does it matter in the grand scheme of things?" or "does it matter to God?" No. The question to ask is,
"Where is my heart in the midst of this?"
Those who know me know that I have very strong feelings about some of the topics I mentioned above and I have no problem letting others know why we do some of the things we do and the reasoning behind it. There is nothing wrong with deciding what you want to do for your family and having a "best" for your family. There's nothing wrong with feeling very convicted to do things one way versus another; there's nothing wrong with having a passion for one way of doing things and letting others know about it. In fact, the choice you made might actually be the best based on research and scientific evidence!

The heart, the heart, the heart!

The problem is when we find ourselves in situations of pride regarding the decisions we've made, classifying a certain lifestyle choice as "God's preferred way," making the choice a consuming topic. This mentality can become an idol in our lives, encompassing a haughty demeanor, a judgmental attitude towards others who have made different decisions, or even cause us to act like a diva - just thinking too much of ourselves and our choices in general. If we find ourselves in one or more of these situations then we need to re-evaluate ourselves. It's way too easy to become self-centered, obsessive, and consumed with our decisions and lifestyle choices. 

We need to continually ask the question, "Have I kept my heart in check?" We can so easily become distracted by our own sinful nature that we let our heart become clouded and are unable to see the big picture. We should lay all of our lifestyle choices on an open hand before the Lord. We need to have hearts filled with humility, grace, patience, and faith. As Nancy Wilson said in her blog a few weeks ago regarding the decisions that come with childbirth, "Hold it loosely." Let us not cling so tightly to these things, these ways of doing things, and lifestyle choices, that we lose sight of the hope that is within us and the purpose of our lives as Christians.

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 
2 Corinthians 2:15

One more thing.

God gave us a brain; he gave us the ability to make these decisions and we should do the research and make all necessary preparations for childbirth, deciding what and how to eat, how to care for our babies, etc. Of course it would be foolish not to; to just "eenie-meenie-minie-mo" our way through these decisions for our families would be unwise with what God has entrusted to us.

So let us first get down on our knees and thank God that we even have the privilege to make these kinds of decisions! Second, let us remain ever aware of the bigger picture and give our hearts a good checking on a moment by moment basis.

Check the heart!

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