As I have been processing the teaching from earlier this week, this one keeps coming to mind frequently. It is the concept of the gift given to Eve - her power of influence.
I must admit to be being a little blind to the reality of this, and the speaker's words woke me up to overlooked power I hold as an influencer. I am sure not everyone does this, but in a life that has taken unexpected routes and many years at home being a full time mom, a level of erosion has taken place; I have under-estimated my influence. I am not talking here about self-worth, that's a whole different story.
I am referring to the critical and sometimes monstrous power as women we may not realise we have. I certainly didn't. Being a SAHM is the best, most wonderful privilege and I honour my husband for providing for us in a way that has enabled this. It has meant many, many lean years and him sweating over budget sheets in the middle of the night to make sure we had enough, but he has supported my desire to be primary caregiver at home.
Unlike a corporate career, this role of mine can slip under the radar screen of accountability and review. I can become incredibly complacent about the repetitive and humbling nature of the job and at times, frankly overwhelmed with how it is unrelenting. I wish sometimes I got to sign off at the end of the day.
In all that tangle of motherhood; that emotionally draining, heart stopping, challenging, physically demanding day after day after day stuff, my thoughts get weary. And my filter stops working. And my eye for vision loses focus. I become self-heavy, obsessed about making things work in the best way for me; the way quickest, most economical, most sensible, of managing our family.
I drown out the weight that my words and attitudes have on the people I rub shoulders with. I found this aspect easier to deal with in a 'proper job'. I could be uplifting, insightful, patient and have integrity for eight hours behind a desk, answering calls, dealing with irate and sick patients...and then I would go home and shuck off my i had influence today shoes and revert back to recharge-anything-goes-mood.
Being at home full time means I have to self define the boundaries of how I influence. One of my favourite bloggers Paige speaks on her approach to taking stock of her investment into the pursuit of deliberate parenting - it is a refeshing and inspiring post.
Actually, there should never a time when I should not be focusing on being an influence. And yet...honestly? There is. There is alot of time when I am not influencing well.
I am designed to complement my husband, instead I can sometimes bombard him with my way of thinking; accuse him of not thinking of me, watch his actions with expectation and get disappointed when things don't go my way.
Here's a shameful example: we do our grocery shopping in bulk and after a particularly hefty, hurried shop, squeezed in before church one Sunday morning, found me rushing home, car boot laden having just enough time to shower and get ready before we needed to leave. I had missed breakfast, my legs were shaking. I hastily ripped into a block of energy chocolate on the way home (I know...I know, I need help) and arrived home well set in the assumption that my family would be ready for church, and that my husband in particular, would be standing by to release me to get myself organised to leave.
But this was somehow shattered when I staggered past the kitchen window, laden with bags to see him standing at the sink, not in the slightest bit ready and greeting me with a slow smile. He hadn't caught my invisible adrenalin! How dare he not be ready? How dare he not meet me at the door, his own needs taken care of and send me off to shower with a coffee in hand?
This ridiculous, ridiculous situation was not one I could control seemingly because I went off. I had one of those moments when you feel like you are watching yourself from somewhere four foot above your head. My hype and rage came down among the piles of bananas and toilet paper rolls. I spouted questions and unpacked bags of rice and bottles of milk with military force and churning arms, pounding heart and wild eyes.
My girls leaped to help me, my husband took himself off to get ready and I unpacked that car with feverish anger. In the 15 minutes left before we needed to go, I showered like a maniac (for those of you who don't know what this looks like, it is not pleasant and means you usually slice yourself with your ladyshaver and get shampoo into your eyes), flung my church clothes on and met the rest of my apprehensive family in the car, clutching my mascara, shoes and a cup of coffee.
They piped up timidly from the back. 'Are you and Dad fighting again?' I groaned on the inside. I was not ready to quit being mad, I was having way too much fun throwing my hurt feelings around. Hubby and I glanced at each other and miraculously a giggle bubbled, thankfully God has blessed me with a man who seems incapable of holding a grudge. We assured the children we were just being revolting and how sorry we were for being silly-billies. We told each other loudly, with light voices how much we loved each other, and the six blue eyes watching us from the backseat narrowed with suspicion. 'But if you love each other, why do you fight?'
This is why.
Because as a woman I have lost perspective and respect for the gift implanted into my gender to influence. The example demonstrated at conference was of walking through a department store, being sprayed by merchandisers selling their fragrances. They want to cover you with their scent because they know that where ever you go that day, you will carry their product with you and others will notice and ask what you are wearing. This is effortless promotion of their aroma.
An example was spun for us, of a disgruntled mother starting her day annoyed with her spouse's lack of insight and help, his reclining on the couch, breakfast in hand, (even though he promised her he would bring her breakfast in bed), in his pyjamas (even though he promised to take the kids to school) and in her disappointment, attitude rises like a tidal wave. She sprays her children as she slops their porridge angrily into bowls. She sprays them as she rushes to get herself and them ready. She sprays them as she drops them off at the school gate. Sprays them with her aroma of hurt and offense. They in turn go off, doused with this and spray their own little troop of friends, who repeat the favour and before morning tea time, that one mother's scent of bruised expectations has influenced a crowd.
I was deeply challenged. I realise that Eve was tempted in the garden because she had the power to influence Adam. Influencing others with our own soulish feelings sours this pure gift. I am fully aware of how complacent I have been and how unconscious I have become to being a deliberate carrier of the aroma of what is good. Every single moment of each day. Not just between the hours of 9 and 5, but late at night in my husband's ear on the pillow. First thing in the morning when a sleepy girl appears to snuggle in my arms. At lunchtime. When I drive them around for afterschool activities. In the marching hours between creating a home and maintaining it.
Charlotte Scanlon-Gambill reminded us of the power Herodius carried to influence through her daughter in Mark 6, power from nursing her grudge that eventually came to birth with the be-heading of John the Baptist in sheer revenge.
I left that session determined not to be blind to the opportunities that arise. Not all opportunities are God given. Some lead straight down a path of nursing a grudge and holding an offense and they influence those around me to the point where others carry my feelings as their own.
To remind myself every morning to wear the aroma of the King, I bought myself a narrow pewter bangle. It is stamped with the words MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU. It sits on my arm in symbolic remembrance of the power I carry to distribute that very thing, His Grace.
We are influencers Bloggy Moms, we are wearers of this honour. And to cement this in my own life, I am holding my first ever giveaway.
Leave a comment by Sat 19th September and a random draw will pick out the girl who wins her own pewter bangle. There are five choices of inscriptions:
I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH HIM
FAITH HOPE LOVE PEACE
NEVER WILL I LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU
It doesn't matter where you live in the world, if you win, I will get this sent off to you. If you don't win, check out this gorgeous site for more bling with great words.