Back in 2002, Jan Silvious came to my community and talked to us about being spiritual "big girls." In fact, she later wrote her book entitled: Big Girls Don't Whine. The book description says this:
"Do you ever behave like a little girl - pouting, neediness, or manipulation - when you're stressed? Silvious's wisdom-filled book will help you abandon childish ways and become the confident woman God intended! Learn how to resolve conflict peacefully, embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace, and more ."
Jan is an awesome teacher and very wise woman. She's also a hoot! I remember laughing my head off as she painted the picture of a NOT so big girl who whines! I laughed my head off while recognizing my own behaviors. Jan has the ability to do that... Slap you up side the head with truth and make you laugh at the same time. But, I left there with a desire to no longer be a spiritually immature child but a woman determined to - grow up into all aspects of Him - Christ (Eph. 4:15). You know, no longer childish in my thinking and behavior, but mature!
Some time around or shortly after this conference, I began to see the above slogan on plaques, mugs, T-shirts and I loved it. After all, it was the perfect slogan for my new resolve to be grown up in my behavior and thinking...to be spiritually mature in my reactions and responses to my situations and circumstances.
As I look back, it seem the years that followed this new found resolve required a lot of putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it. A growing ministry with growing challenges. A loss of hormones brought on severe hot flashes which brought about sleep deprivation. A lack of hormones combined with a lack of sleep equals all sorts of other issues. Which by the way, I still deal with today. Mix in the normal ups, downs and arounds of life and putting on your big girl panties and dealing with it can be a real challenge.
In fact, several years ago I decided I really didn't like this slogan. In the midst of major ministry concerns, we were planning a large conference and so prayerful that it would turn our community of women upside down for Jesus. But, women weren't registering in the numbers we had hoped and since the conference was expensive there were major financial concerns. In the midst of all this, my parents decided to sell everything they owned and move from GA to PA to live with my husband and me. Because we lived in a 2 story townhouse, we would need to find a home with a first floor bedroom for my parents. And, we only had 2 weeks to do so. A week after my parents arrived and right in the middle of all the moving, we found out my mother had brain cancer - dying only 3 months later. In a matter of months, my father lost his home & possessions, the love of his life, his eyesight and independence. The months after my mothers death brought some health issues for my father and were an adjustment for us all. I had the responsibility of a ministry that was still growing, struggling and requiring much prayer, diligence, perseverance and now also the responsibility of caring for my father - who by the way is a dear man. It meant much less time spent with my husband who would have to go back and forth to NYC without me. Since we'd spent most of our married life apart, we had hoped to never have to spend a lot of time apart ever again. But, you put on your big girl panties and deal with it! Yeppers as they say here in PA - getting real tired of that slogan. Sometime during daddy's 40 radiation treatments, his demon possessed dog making every day in my own home intolerable, and ETC...is when I realized that putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it was not humanly possible.
I wasn't sure I wanted to be a big girl about it all and some days I couldn't remember why it was I should be. It was just all too much and a part of me wanted to fall apart. Or at the very least go back to bed, curl up in a ball and leave someone else to deal with it all. What I learned during this time was that every day Jesus got me out of bed and He put my big girl panties on me and He gave me what I needed to deal with it. This is NOT something that can be done - day after day after day - out of resolve or in the flesh.
Life hasn't gotten easier. In fact, just today my husband and I agreed it's harder! Our home's been up for sale for over 6 months and has only been shown 3 times. Tom and I are separated. Thank God he's been provided a warm and inviting apartment at the ministry in which to live but separated from his help mate. It's just not good for man to be alone! His days are long and his responsibilities new. I am beginning to hear the loneliness and discouragement in his voice. We have everything we own up for sale but with the economy the way it is - no one is buying. I'm still struggling to let go of a ministry that God birthed within me and is still a huge part of me. While I have roles and responsibilities at my new job and within a ministry that I love, I'm not sure where I fit yet. I have so much to learn. Plus, I'm here and they are down there. By the time Tom and I touch base with each other in the evenings, we are both brain dead. It's really difficult not being able to share our lives with one another. I show up at my church and people wonder why I'm still around. My days are long and daddy spends a lot of time by himself waiting for his life to be turned upside down with yet another move. And, devil dog is still intolerable. But, God...
For the last couple of weeks though, I've been thinking about that slogan that I don't like. And you know what? I get it in a whole new way and that is VERY exciting. I WANT to put on my big girl panties. Sure, it's for the same reasons as before after hearing Jan Silvious speak...no longer childish in my thinking and behavior but spiritually mature. I want to grow up in all aspects to Him - Christ. As Jan says, I want "embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace, and more." But, my motivation is totally different. But it's more than that too. Today, right now, in the midst of all uncertainty and the betwixt and between - I WANT to "embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace and more" because I want others to know and see that putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it proves that Jesus is:
...And so much more
I want others to KNOW that Jesus is the reason I WANT to put on my big girl panties and deal with anything. It's not out of some duty or sense of obligation. No, it's because I've experienced the truths from the Word of God about Who He is and what He says about Himself to be absolute truth! It is because I KNOW that during the most difficult times in my life He is the ONE who wakes me up, gets me out of bed, puts my big girl panties on me and gives me the ability to embrace life no matter what AND with grace plus more. Jesus IS my reason for living and He alone is worth living for...
If you've never heard the CD by Anne Graham Lotz and Fernando Ortega you'll find it in the back of Anne's book called "Just Give Me Jesus." It's been on my heart all week and I dug it out and listened to it. I tried to post it on my Facebook but couldn't. It's probably just as well as I'm sure that's illegal - even for purposes of encouragement! You'll love it and your spirits will lift as you hear Anne call out the names and character of Jesus. JESUS - JUST GIVE ME JESUS - and God has! Amen?