Moms: Take Charge by Making Smart Choices
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2007 23 Mar
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Robin Chaddock's book, 12 Choices Smart Moms Make, (Harvest House Publishers, 2007).
It’s easy to feel out of control as a mom when you let society’s pressures and other people’s agendas take charge of your life. But if you use your God-given ability to make wise choices, you’ll gain control so you can live the abundant life God wants for you.
Here’s how you can run your life so it doesn’t run you:
Stay in touch with God. Every day, stay connected to God through prayer. Get to know His voice speaking to you and make it a habit of asking Him for guidance before making decisions. Ask God to reveal His vision for your life, and help you clarify your values. Make time to reflect regularly on how God is working in your life.
Discover who you are. Get to know and affirm who you are as a unique person. Recognize clearly what you stand for, and what you won’t stand for. Figure out your central passion and greatest strength, and use that information to make choices that bring out the best in you. Ask God to give you the confidence you need to make smart decisions. Don’t compare yourself to other people and the decisions they make; feel free to make choices that are right for you, no matter what other people think. Resist the pressure to give into other people’s expectations for you if those expectations don’t align with what God is calling you to do. Realize that you don’t need to compete with other people. Just do your best, and be at peace with that. Remember your true identity as a beloved and free person in Christ, and refuse to base your sense of identity on anything less. Ask God to help you see yourself from His perspective.
Make decisions wisely. Constantly ask yourself what you will do with your life in light of your faith. Keep your vision and values in mind, and as you make decisions, discern whether or not each choice will help you stay true to them. Understand your own motivation before making decisions. Be proactive about making decisions, realizing that if you don’t decide when faced with a choice, that in itself is a decision to just let your life control you. Think for yourself and don’t let others talk you into something you don’t feel confident about. Don’t take situations at face value; ask questions. Consider all available information carefully, think through the various options, and weigh the potential consequence of each option. Be able to clearly articulate your beliefs and the reasons behind them. Evaluate any message in light of the sender and the sender’s motivation. Be wary of people who urge you to do something simply because it has “always” been done that way or because “everyone” does it that way. Understand that when you say “yes” to one thing, you’ll usually have to say “no” to another. Know that even though you often can’t choose your circumstances, you can always choose how you view or respond to those circumstances. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct it mid-course if you can. Stay focused on God’s intentions for you and avoid getting tangled up in society’s demands and expectations.
Think healthy thoughts. Pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you can get rid of unhealthy thoughts and think correctly about God, yourself, and others. Embrace the truths about God in the Bible. Think the best about yourself as one of God’s children. Ask God to help you see other people as they truly are, without overlaying them with your expectations. View situations in the world from a stance that is both realistic and optimistic. Ask God to help you replace negative thoughts and thinking patterns with positive thoughts and thinking patterns. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself in your mind, and replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Pray for the peace that only God can give.
Forgive. Understand that being in an unforgiving state erodes your ability to use good judgment and make healthy choices. Know that God expects you to be willing to forgive because He has forgiven you. Rely on God’s help to forgive, remembering that He will always give you the power to do so. Forgive yourself for not being someone else you compare yourself unfavorably against. Ask God to give you the confidence you need to embrace your uniqueness and distinct purpose. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Forgive yourself for what you’ve intentionally done or left undone that has resulted in harm. Forgive people who have pressured you in the past and influenced your attitudes and behaviors in unhealthy ways. Carefully evaluate the opinions and worldviews that other people express, and don’t give in to pressure to take them as your own. Know what you believe (and why) and stand by your convictions. Forgive your friends and family members for ways they’ve hurt you, and manage your emotions and expectations so you’re able to see those you love from a realistic perspective. Forgive God for ways He has acted in your life that have made you angry with Him. Understand that God is in ultimate control of your life and trust that He knows and wants what’s best for you. Pray for the faith you need to recognize God’s love, wisdom, and power – especially in situations that don’t transpire the way you want them to turn out. Enjoy the peace God gives you when you forgive.
Be grateful. Realize that gratitude will give you the freedom you need to make smart choices. Don’t let perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, or worrying steal your gratitude. Choose to be grateful in all circumstances – not just ones you enjoy – trusting that God will use everything in your life to fulfill good purposes for you. Regularly notice both large and small blessings in your life and thank God for them. Know that gratitude will give you the contentment and confidence you need to make wise decisions.
Celebrate your uniqueness. Instead of comparing yourself with other people or competing with them, embrace the distinctiveness of who you are and be content with that. Remember that God has unique purposes for you and your family to fulfill. Live in the present. Stay focused on what you really want to do, rather than what other people want you to do. Find creative ways to celebrate the unique qualities about you and your family’s unique culture, such as by going out for ice cream or taking a hike together.
Call out the best in your kids. Decide to teach your kids how to make smart decisions. Start by accepting them for who they truly are – not just who you want them to be. Let your kids know that you appreciate them for who they are instead of just what they do. Mention specific traits and passions you recognize in your kids that make them special people to you. Help them discover and articulate their vision and values, and focus on how they can contribute to the world right now instead of waiting until they’re grown up to contribute in significant ways. Be willing to let go of your kids more and more as they grow older; help them become independent. Respect and honor your kids. Look for God’s Spirit inside your kids and affirm God’s work in them.
Take care of yourself. Give yourself the foundation you need to make healthy choices by taking care of your health – spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember that God highly esteems you; let that knowledge motivate you to care about yourself. Ask God to help you make choices that will bring you energy (such as pursuing a creative project) and avoid choices that will drain your energy (such as gossiping about other people). Look at your daily routine and pay attention to how you could change it to incorporate more healthy choices (such as drinking water instead of soda or spending time in prayer instead of watching an extra television show).
Listen. Ask God to help you become a careful listener who gains the wisdom to make smart choices. Pray frequently, and listen to the Holy Spirit when you do. Listen to wise counsel from spiritually mature people you can trust. Listen to your kids by making time for them and focusing on what you most need to respond to in their lives. When you’re listening to people, make eye contact with them. State in your words what you think they’re saying. Express empathy and understanding. Ask questions to clarify or draw out more information. Don’t judge the people who are speaking, and don’t get distracted by thinking of your response while they’re still talking.
Laugh. Recognize that laughter will help you live in a state of grace that will enable you to make wise decisions. Allow humor to give you a clear perspective on stressful situations. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid to laugh at them. Laugh with your kids and enjoy the time you have together. Let laughter dispel your family’s fears and refresh you all.
Play. Realize that play will rejuvenate you and improve your perspective on situations so you can make smart choices. Give yourself permission to rest and relax. Trust that God is in ultimate control of your life, so you can let go of your concerns long enough to play with your kids on a regular basis. Find creative ways to integrate play into your daily routine, such as including your kids when you’re cooking and making a fun meal together, or singing songs or playing pranks on each other as you clean the house. Ask God to help you see the world through the eyes of your children and feel carefree. No matter what your circumstances, choose to be joyful instead of giving into stress.
Stay in touch. Stay in touch with your physical surroundings by creating a home environment that helps you maintain balance and promotes clear thinking so you can make wise decisions. Choose to express your affection for your kids through touch regularly, such as by hugging them every day, to keep your relationships with them healthy and give them the confidence they need to make smart choices of their own.
Make connections. Connect with other people so you’ll have the support you need to make smart choices. No matter what season of life you’re in, be sure to invest significant amounts of time and energy into your marriage to keep it healthy and growing. Choose your friends wisely, avoiding relationships that suck the life out of you and building ones that provide mutual support. Find friends who you can trust to share your sorrow, concerns, and joys with on a regular basis. Know that, while you can’t choose your family members, you can make wise choices about how you will relate to them and how you will allow them to affect you.
Don’t hesitate to say “no” when you should. Never let guilt, anxiety, comparison, or competition cause you to accept an invitation to do something. Instead, examine your motives whenever someone asks you for a commitment of your time, energy, and talent. Continually ask yourself why you’re considering the activity, event, or project. Understand that there will likely be many good things you need to say “no” to because they simply don’t align with God’s plans for you right now. Don’t take on responsibilities that aren’t yours to take on. Trust that, if you’re not meant to do it, the person asking you will find someone else who can help. Don’t feel obligated to give a reason to people when you decline their requests; simply decline with a firm graciousness. Don’t feel as if you need to respond to people’s requests right away; take the time you need to think about them before replying. When you sense that requests will provide opportunities for you or your family to grow in your vision and values, then say “yes” with confidence. When it comes to the media’s influence on your family, don’t be afraid to say “no” to destructive forces by setting boundaries on your kids’ television viewing, Internet surfing, and other media use. Say “yes” only to media that will help them grow into the kind of people God wants them to become. Enjoy the peace that comes from making wise choices.
Adapted from 12 Choices Smart Moms Make, copyright 2007 by Robin Chaddock. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Life coach Robin Chaddock is the author of Discovering Your Divine Assignment and Being a Wise Woman in a Wild World. She holds degrees in psychology, theology, and organizational management. An award-winning community college educator, Robin also encourages hearts, inspires change, and shares God’s deep, eternal love with audience members at conferences, retreats, workshops, and seminars.