Pure Pleasure: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good?
Book by Gary Thomas
Review and Extra Commentary by Virginia Knowles
You can order your print copy from ChristianBook.com here: Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas at CBD or directly from the author's web site (and watch Gary's intro video clip) here: Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas at Center for Evangelical Spirituality.
And now, after this more general review, I have a few observation about how the concepts in Gary's books (not just Pure Pleasure) relate to families, especially those who are home schooling.
Many moms and dads struggle to truly enjoy their children because they are so intent on building their character and correcting their errant behavior. This is especially apparent in the home school movement when we are (hopefully) making extra sacrifices to invest in their success. They simply have to turn out right, or how could we justify the time and money we spent? PLEASE remember that our children are treasures from God, whether they are complying with us or not. The atmosphere in our homes must become one of affection and acceptance, rather than grumpy disapproval. Otherwise, our kids will quickly discover that Mom's and Dad's religion is not the only game in town, and they will drift or even run to wherever they feel they're getting a fair shake and good vibes. Josh McDowell has said, "Rules without relationships reap rebellion." When you are thinking about enjoying the pleasures from God, I hope that your children are right at the top! Take some time to have some fun with them as a whole family and one-on-on. How long has it been since you had an awesome vacation or even a daytrip that wasn't strictly educational? Yes, it costs some money, but you only have so long with your children before they grow up and move away. (Ask me how I know this!)
Here are a several terrific ways to have some guilt-free fun with your kids.
- Cuddle up on the couch with your kids to read a good book: How to Read Aloud and Enjoy It and When Mother Reads Aloud.
- Do something that is both fun and educational: Got a Hand, Make a Puppet.
- Make Christmas presents: Great Gifts Kids Can Make for Others.
- Take the entire month of December off from traditional school: Advent Adventure Unit Study for December.
- Play games like Pente and Mancala that use strategy, but are simple and fun enough for parents and kids to enjoy together.
- Join your local YMCA so the kids can get fun PE time, and you can relieve stress by working out and getting in shape -- our family gets a 50% scholarship so ask about one if you can't afford it otherwise!
- Take advantage of outdoor fun & freedom, such as taking a picnic lunch outside to the yard or a local park or letting your kids take a book up into your tree to read while you take pictures!
"Bear with yourself in your involuntary frailties as God bears, wait patiently for His appointed time of complete deliverance, and meanwhile go on quietly and according to your strength in the path before you, without losing time in looking back; always "reaching forth unto those things which are before," not dwelling unprofitably upon depressing falls and hindrances; sorrowing over them, indeed, with humility, but putting them aside to press onwards; not looking upon God as a spy watching to surprise you, or an enemy laying snares for you, but as a Father who loves, and would fain save you; full of trust in His goodness, continually invoking His mercy, and perfectly free from all vain dependence upon yourself or any other creature. Such you will find to be the path towards true liberty."
And another from Francis De Sales: "As to these smaller temptations… as it is impossible to be altogether freed from them, the best defense that we can make is not to give ourselves much trouble about them; for although they may tease us, yet they can never hurt us, so long as we continue firmly resolved to dedicate ourselves in earnest to the service of God…. Content yourself with quietly removing them, not by contending or disputing with them, but by performing some actions of a contrary nature to the temptation, especially acts of the love of God… This grand remedy is so terrible to the enemy of our souls, that as soon as he perceives that his temptation incites us to form acts of divine love he ceases to tempt us… He who would wish to contend with them in particular would give himself much trouble to little or no purpose.” (Quoted by Gary Thomas on page 76-77 of Seeking the Face of God.)Are you exhausted or stressed out as a mom? Is there ever anything leftover for you after all the demands of mothering, disciplining, housecleaning, organizing, chauffeuring, not to mention the challenges of being either a wife or a single mom? And, if you are home schooling, add in teaching, lesson planning and grading! Do you feel guilty trying to get away for a little bit for some happy time, even to your bedroom for a little peace and quiet? STOP IT! Dear ladies, you must fill your pitcher to the brim with life or you won't have anything to pour out for your family! I used to have a T-shirt that read, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" And that's the truth! You set the tone in your family. Is it going to be grumpy? Lifeless? Joyless? If you can't work this out for yourself, or there are family crises that complicate your story, don't hesitate to go for professional Christian counseling. If you feel that your pastor is not equipped for giving the kind of help you need, many counseling centers offer services for a sliding scale fee. I know that some of you are in dark places in life. I'm not suggesting that you shrug it off and pretend that life is jolly, but that you deal with it head on so you can move on with confidence. Your identity is not determined by how other people (husband, children, relatives, friends) assess your worth. You are a precious treasure to God in Christ Jesus. Whatever you do, remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and that he rejoices over you with gladness and singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Don't accept second best. Yes, you will sometimes be tired and discouraged. Jesus came to give you abundant life (John 10:10)! You might find some extra encouragement and refreshment on my blog, Come Weary Moms, especially the post called Help for Hurting Marriages which contains excerpts from Gary Thomas's books Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands and Sacred Marriage. I also invite you do download a free PDF copy of my 176 page book The Real Life Home School Mom, which primarily focuses on the emotional, logistical and spiritual challenges of home schooling rather than just academics.
I hope that this extra commentary has been helpful to you! I would love your feedback!