By Katie Haas
As a disciplemaker mom, it can feel like you are always giving- giving your time to students, giving your energy to your kids, giving your ideas for ministry to your husband, giving a meal to a friend who had a surgery. You struggle to know where to give, what and who to give to, and how to have anything left to “give to God.”
I remember after many student dinners I would be in the kitchen doing ALL the dishes and everyone else would be socializing in the other room or even still lingering at the table. Maybe I shouldn’t have excused myself to do the dishes at that time or maybe I should have done a better job of asking for help. But I knew that if I didn’t do the dishes then, I would be doing them later. And I would rather do the dishes while I can hear the conversation than at 11 p.m. all alone or the next morning while trying to parent my kids. And so I would do dishes- maybe for the third or fourth time that day…and fight to not get bitter.
I think for much of my life I’ve sub-consciously lived in a giving/earning mentality. I would often reason, “I gave my husband a few hours last night to help host a ministry dinner, so I can feel less bad if he gives me an hour to watch the kids while I go to my doctor appointment” or “I gave a meal to this person when they had a baby, so I don’t need to feel bad that they’re giving one for me.” Or one that hits deeply, “I’ve given a lot as a friend to this person, so it’s reasonable to ask them to support us.”
So what happens when we are out of things to give?
Last summer the Lord very clearly called us to move to Colorado away from everyone and everything that we knew. Moving is not for the faint of heart, let alone moving 1,000 miles away with three young kids while six months pregnant. This “transactional giving/earning mentality” was starting to unravel as I had nothing left to give. Little did I know, God was inviting me into a rich season of receiving, not just in a practical way (meals when we arrived, and meals after our baby was born, help with moving, people loaning things to us, etc.) which we received plenty of. But it was also a season of receiving emotionally, deep down in my heart and soul.
This past Christmas was our first ever holiday without relatives. I was terrified, I wanted to avoid any potential pain and book flights home- but we had a newborn, I have MS, and quite honestly we didn’t have the energy or money to make the trip. I realized that in my flesh, I wanted to start working to earn someone’s favor. Maybe I could do something that would help us get invited to Christmas dinner or remind God that to me Christmas is not Christmas without a crowd and so maybe He could start getting a crowd together for us? But after a few months of recognizing my temptation to live transactually, I felt a small prompt to just pray and ask the Lord for someone to invite us to Christmas dinner. To not DO anything on my own to “earn a special Christmas” which felt really big for me. And so I prayed and asked the Lord for Christmas plans, but I didn’t even tell my husband, for fear that it probably wouldn’t happen.
Instead of expecting to receive- I started doing it all myself- I scheduled a manicure for myself for Christmas Eve morning as something special to look forward to, wrapped an extra book for each girl to open on Christmas Eve, and started planning a Christmas meal (with easy Costco foods!)
And then we got invited- to a Christmas Eve dinner after church AND a Christmas Day dinner the next evening. I couldn’t have hand-picked two families I would rather spend Christmas with in Colorado Springs than these two families!
The Lord was giving good gifts to me, and I didn’t do a single thing to “earn” them.
Fast forward a few months and it was Easter. The same sweet friend who invited us to her parents’ house for Christmas invited us to Easter dinner to celebrate. As soon as we got the invitation I looked at my husband and said, “Why is she inviting us? My mom is going to be here. She doesn’t have to invite us? We have family here!” to which my husband replied, “Maybe she doesn’t have to invite you, maybe she WANTS to.”
God was giving a good gift, not because I earned it or deserved it, but because He wanted to give it and He knew it would be EXACTLY what I wanted to receive.
It’s amazing how much more joyfully you can receive something when you don’t take credit for earning it. When you aren’t able to defend it, explain it or justify it happening, you can truly see it for what it is, a GIFT that you could never earn or repay.
I’m learning that truly receiving from the Lord teaches me who God really is: a good Father who gives not because of how good or thoughtful I was or because I had anything to give to earn the favor of the Lord or others, but because He is my Father. Because He created me, delights in me, longs to sing over me, and because He gives good gifts to those He loves. And because best of all He knows me, and knows exactly what I long to receive, before I even try to earn it.
So what about you mama? What does it look like for you to receive? Are you able to ask students to help – with the dishes, with the kids, or with your Bible study? Are you willing to receive the practical help of others to keep up with the demands of ministry? Are you willing to receive help from your husband with the kids when it’s just too much? Are you willing to trust the Lord in areas where your heart is most vulnerable to feeling pain- like a holiday? Are you receiving from the Lord what He longs to give you?
I pray that you can truly receive the good that God has for you in this season because He longs to give it to you!
Katie Haas has been on staff since 2007 when she married Noah Haas. They’ve served at three campuses in the Midwest and have recently moved to Colorado Springs where Noah is the Chief of Staff for The Navigators collegiate mission.
Katie is adjusting to life with four kids at home, figuring out a new normal while not being on campus, and adjusting to living 15 hours away from their nearest relative.
Katie is a mom to Ellie (8), Josie (7), Annie (4), and Judson (1). She loves trying new recipes, playing games, getting to barre class at the gym, making Shutterfly albums, and cheering for the Green Bay Packers!