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The Sin Behind The Issue with Andrea Boland

February 2023

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Laura: Hi Anne and welcome to Unsung Stories. Thank you so much for joining us. It was lovely.

Anne: We'll be chatting to.

Laura: just so that our listeners can get to know you a little bit more, could you tell us a bit about you and your family and just what everyday life looks like for you? Yeah, sure.

Anne: I was married when I was 21, which is now 35 years ago.

Yeah, you can add that up and work out how old I am. . I'm married to a very patient man and he is hung in there beautifully with me through all the ups and downs of that life together. God's blessed us with kids along the way who are all adults, 26, 28, 30.

And they're all amazing people who I love to hang out with. And I've got two great sons in-law who aren't bad company as well. And just this year we've had a new grandbaby join the family, so I've been watching one of my daughter. Become a mom which is just an amazing and weird experience and it's reminded me how tough a job it is.

Being a mom, it's lovely and lonely and beautiful and really hard all at once. So that's family and I work full time for our church trying to. Life here. A bit organized, sometimes winning and sometimes losing in that. And I've been involved in our women's growth group world in leading women there recently given that up for a few reasons.

Sad about that. But I love that work as well. Yeah.

Laura: That's really great. So I have asked you to come on this show for a while now and been

Anne: met with

Laura: some hesitation. So I'm wondering, , why the hesitation to come on?

Anne: I have been very hesitant and so I had to think about it and think what was going on there for me and what.

What would be good reasons to be hesitant and what were things I just needed to get over and get on with it or if I did need to do that at all. And so as I thought about why I was so hesitant, there are lots of reasons. I think that three main ones one being I've made so many. As a mom I'm still learning with adult children what it means to be a mom of adults.

I'm still making mistakes. I had a very difficult family experience growing up, which meant I came into being a mom with a whole lot of stuff and meant, I had particular needs made, particular mistakes because I. That stuff with me, my life. And I wouldn't want anyone to ever hear me say that I haven't made a lot of mistakes.

So that was one thing. Another thing that I'm really aware of is I'm also sinful and proud and I was, I am was still am worried that I'd be. I would be proud as I spoke that I'd come across as being someone who thought they knew how to do it all and that I sound judgemental and harsh and I didn't want to give myself the air time to perhaps come across.

Like that. And then the other one that's a less personal reason is and I know that you're a hundred percent with me on this, I don't want people to think that personal experience listening to people's personal experiences is where we find the truth and where we find answers are God's answers to life.

Or even that's the best way to work out how to apply the truth of God's word. We do all that best in personal relationship with each other. God's word tells us not to give up meeting together. And so I'd never want anyone to spend time listening to me and spend a, instead of spending time listening to the truth of God's word and doing that in relationship with other people.

So there's some of the reasons. There's probably more that I'm not aware of.

Laura: So why did you say yes in the end?

Anne: Yeah, good question. And I'm not sure I've made the right decision. You are very encouraging and in the end, and we talked about what I could say and in the end I thought maybe it was worth the risk.

And you can always put this in the rubbish bin if you agree, disagree with what I've said or don't think it'll be helpful. And, but I did in the end think I wonder if there is something in my. 30 years of experience as a mom through all the mistakes I've made and through trying to understand how to do that well.

There might be something there that might help someone. And again, God's word does tell older women to support and help younger women. And so I figured it was worth a shot. Yeah. That's

Laura: really beautiful. I'm really thankful and I'm really thankful for you fleshing out your thought process there, because I think you've picked up on something really helpful about Christian media today.

How quick we are to go to podcasts or books or blogs over one God's word. But also I think and what you've said about your daughter being lonely, seeing that. So there's a beautiful thing about media that when you are sitting at home lonely or washing your dishes or whatever, that you can connect to Christians and point your mind to Jesus or hear these kind of stories.

But at the same time, I think you've picked up on something really helpful that this does not replace being in the Bible. This does not replace being in community with God's people and how important that is. So yeah, thank you for. For bringing that to the table. I think that's really great. I'm wondering if you could chat about your thoughts and experiences a bit more though.

So what was your thinking there?

Anne: And yeah, I agree. That's exactly it, Laura. And I do think for some of us it's actually easier to do the online. At home thing that it is to actually get out of the house to come to things.

It, As I said, I've watched my daughter do this in the last four months. It's tough being a mom with little kids. It's hard to get out. You've got sleep time, sleep training. All of that you're trying to do, there's good mothering reasons that can keep you at home. And so it does take intentional convictions to get you up and out of your house when it is many times, even though it can be lonely and so on at home.

For many types of people it's actually easier to stay at home than it is to come out. So you have to be strongly convicted that it's better for you to be out reading God's word with people than it is to be home doing it by yourself, to get yourself out of Yes.

Laura: As you're talking, there's two things that I was thinking of.

One, it is very, and I'm hesitant to say this because I think mothers are thinking of their children a lot of the time, but it is very me focused. Does growth group feed me in a great way or what's best? Do you know what I do? You get what I'm saying there? If Growth group is amazing, or church is amazing to go to because you are sitting under God's word and you're learning more and all of that.

But I think there's this temptation , to believe the lie that, Oh no, that's not, Important for me, or I don't like the group as much, or all, all of these things. Absolutely. So we have to be focused on, No, I'm going to know God more and work my hardest. Which is so beautiful for your group and encouraging for your group.

When we have that mindset. Yes. But you need

Anne: that focus, I think. Yeah.

Laura: It's not about, and who I connect with these people or do I wanna, it's, I need to get in God's word and I need to go to the things that will get me in God's word. Even if it's not the greatest social event or I think the other thing that I thought was how much it does cost you.

I remember looking at, I can't remember if it was my third or my fourth, and she was asleep in the bassinet finally. And I remember just shaking, going, Oh my goodness, I have to pick her up, but I am going to wake her up, but I have to go to growth group. The cost of that. And I just think of the old lady or whatever she was in the parable where she gives her one coin and people scoff.

But I was like, God, this feels like my one coin,

Anne: but its so valuable to me and you can have it and it will be for my good. Yeah. Yes. The immediate overtake overtakes us so easily. Yes. And the immediate can be good. That's actually often what you would do instead of coming to church or instead of going to your growth group would be very good for your children too.

What we have to continually remind ourselves of is that the very best for ourselves and our children is to be in fellowship with other Christian people around God's word and serving other people and stretching ourselves to do that. And it's not that the other things that we were going to do necessarily bad, they're just not the best.

And it is that the immediate, that's such a pressure for you looking at your sleeping girl and to pick her up and to, you could even take her to growth group depending on how little she is and actually not participate in the whole group. Yeah. Because you are rocking and bouncing and feeding and you haven't actually even heard anything that went on.

And so to, as you go to pick her up to. I'm not even going to actually really properly read God's word with people. I probably will spend better time in God's word if I stay home and she's asleep. So why would you pick her up and go when It would actually, maybe in that occasion, you're going to spend better time in God's word on your own, in the piece of your house.

Laura: But I think what you were saying before is also key, that God has designed it, that we are in community with each other. And so by going not only does it encourage the like group and social dynamics, people are so encouraged by you coming, we had a. A lady come three days post C-section. Oh my good. And I remember just being like, You are joking.

But her commitment to the group was beautiful. Maybe it's cuz there was childcare for our other kids, but . But it was so beautiful and so encouraging and I had another point as well, but it's gone. I just think what's

Anne: the discipline is that you're leaning into there. So in those early days of Children, babies.

And when you're not able to really concentrate brilliantly in church, and it is for your own discipline in life and it, it is easy. We need to remember that our hearts are wicked and it's only by God's goodness and grace and his spirit in us, that he gives us a new heart and we need to.

Being disciplined to bring ourselves in and do what he says to do, which is not to give up meeting.

Laura: And that will change, that challenge of not going will change because as they're a bit older and they're not, Settling into Crate, it can be very easy to go, Oh they just spend the whole time screaming and arguing, so I'm not gonna go.

Or that will change when your kids are all at school and you're like, Oh, I could actually, I don't know, go and get a job, or I could, go to a night group and go to the gym during the day or whatever. The things that come up, I think that temptation will never go. It's putting the disciplines in place and that will just change as life

Anne: progress.

That's right. There will always be something. That is good. That might pull you away. And yes, that's so important. And that's where so you do it for yourself and you do it consistently because that's where the greatest wisdom for your life and parenting is going to come from. It's from knowing God.

Knowing him better, knowing what his words says is wisdom and truth. And it is in modeling that and leading your family in that you and your husband as you do that together so that they learn that discipline themselves. They understand that no matter what's going on, and no matter what other options are available, good or fun, or whatever those other options are, the thing that we do in this family is we put meeting with other Christians and serving our church family above anything else that comes along.

Yeah. And that is actually what we do want most for our kids if we think about it. And so the way that we. Teach them That is by showing them that, and I think very much about that church life and our kids' involvement and what we do with our family in relation to prioritizing being with God's people at church each week and being in our growth group and so on.

I, I liked to think of that as Bruce and idea as we bring up our kids, we treat that like we treated. And so I didn't have a conversation every morning with. Your kids,

Laura: Do you wanna go to school today? Of course, that answer's gonna be no.


Anne: just what we did. And, but sure, sometimes the day, some days were hard for them to go to school and there was bullying that happened at school or there was a teacher there, the kid.

And so of course I would love them in that and do what I could to, again, apply the principles of God's word into their life. They could trust him they could talk to him. They kind and loving and forgiving to those around them. I talk them through how to live their life, but it was never, they're not going to school.

Yeah. And how do they go to school in a way that reflects their relationship with God, their loving father who goes with them. And so that was the same for us. In relation to church and all the opportunities that were there for our kids to be involved in church things, whatever was there, I wanted them there.

So they were exposed to hearing who God was and exposed to other people who were. Not us who they could see living out a Christian life, who they could hear about God from any opportunity I wanted them there. And Yeah. Which that was a priority over anything else. But you've gotta do a lot of thinking about how to do that.

For example, you might have a sport that your child gets involved in that. So we did for Nick. So he was into soccer, loved soccer. We knew there was an age that soccer would flip and become a Sunday sport. And so from the very beginning of his love for soccer, we were predicting there was a time that he couldn't play soccer in the future.

So now that's really hard. Had he got to that age and not been actively a Christian himself with those values, and then that would've been a d. Conversation that we'd have to have had then 16 year old or her old that was, But we did our best to set him up to think about his commitment to that sport as being subservient to his commitment to Jesus.

And when it came to, trial games that are on Sundays and occasionally you had to do. We did that with him. Knowing that was costly and we wouldn't do that often. And we go to church at night with him. Yeah. Steps. So yeah, it's all sorts of decisions that you can make as a parent that helps your children understand.

That the most important part of their life is to be in relationship with God and his people and to be learning about him.

Laura: Yeah. That's really beautiful. I might be, if you ask me this, it'll throw me for a six . But isn't. The church, like God's glory on display.

There, is something, isn't there where the, where church is God's glory. Yes. And I, I feel like that's part of this conversation that we're neglecting.

Do you yeah. Feel confident on talking about that or not really?

Anne: Yeah, so it is that God's glory is what matters most. In the world. And what brings God glory is the church that he's gathered in Christ he sacrificed his son to achieve. And the thing that we've been created for is to bring God glory. And what brings him glory is he's gathered people meeting together.

And so we would for that reason, even if that was the only reason we want our greatest desire to be, to bring God glory. And so gathering with his people each week is way we can do that. Someone does that. Yeah, absolutely.

Laura: That's motivating in itself, isn't it? Yes, absolutely. Maybe we just don't actually see it's just, isn't church just a bunch of ordinary broken people gathered together and maybe we just don't actually get the reality in the heavens of how beautiful and amazing that actually is.

Yes, We just because it's so mundane and ordinary to us. Yes,

Anne: that's right. And it feels so hard for. In a sense to get ourselves there. Which is part of that discussion about if you just feel something, does that make it true?

Laura: Yes. I was thinking about that. So you talked about experiences or feelings and stuff like that.

That was a hesitation of you coming on the show. So I was wondering what your thoughts were around that.

Anne: Yeah, so it is what the world tells us that our feelings are what we need to be led by, directed by pay attention to their reliable, they are us. They are our identity somehow. And God's word tells us that's not true.

That our feelings do tell us something and we can bring those before God and he wants. To be honest before him and tell him what's going on for us. But our feelings are not reliable. They're tainted by our sinfulness. And the truth that we need to bring our feelings up against is the truth that's in God's word.

And so we won't be able to judge. By ourselves very often whether our feelings are a good barometer of how we should behave, and actually most of the time we should just be quite what's the word? Hesitant, that's not the word I was thinking. We shouldn't trust our feelings. We should be really hesitant about trusting them as a way to determine our behavior and what we should our best to do.

God's word tells us how to live. And so if I get up in the morning and I don't feel like going to church, or even more difficult, if it's so difficult for me to get out of the house, if it's going to feel really. Hard and painful to be, for whatever reason, to be sitting in church with God's people if I'm going to be very anxious there are lots of very good reasons why we might feel really bad about being in community with other Christians.

And sometimes it, it will just be too much for people at various times and that. I don't want to minimize how difficult it can be but if it is at all possible, that's what God says is best for us. So let's try and do that knowing that he loves us we'll, forgive us if we can't or don't.

Laura: I think what you said at the beginning about aligning everything to God's word is key.

That's where we're gonna line our feelings up because it can go both ways in. So in that feeling, when it's overwhelming, hard to go to church, that's where our desire to be under God's word needs to outweigh that bad feeling or that hard feeling, Sorry. But then there is times where I actually think that we can condemn ourselves.

I don't wanna say condemn ourselves too harshly, but. I think sometimes we can be so plagued by our guilt and our shame that we then don't go to the cross when we should be. And so we're, we are becoming the judge of our sin. And it's, I heard a quote once where it's like the pride that led you to sin is the same pride that's stopping you seeking forgiveness or something like that.

But I think so often we let our feelings be that judge of what is right and wrong. Do you get

Anne: what I'm saying? Yeah. So you, I think what you are concerned for is that that people's guilt when they don't live up to what they know God wants for them, can come between them and God.

Laura: I certainly know for me that's definitely the case.

So I would be one to be wallowing in my own guilt and shame, and I am not worthy of coming to Jesus. And all of these things are lies because I am guilty. I have been sinful and I should feel shame about my actions or behavior. But my answer then isn't to be like, I am not good enough, which is what I'm feeling it.

This is the time where I have to come to God and I have to seek forgiveness because that's what he's got on offer. And so for me to not do that is being

Anne: prideful and being sinful in not

Laura: humbling myself Before him. I spent a few years as a late teenager walking away from God because it was not that I didn't think there was a God, it was that I will never be good enough for him or I am too bad and all of these big feelings, but it was actually my pride stopping me.

Going, Yeah. I am not good enough. And I'm thankful that you are covering it. Yes.

Anne: And so it's a different type of feeling. Yes. Getting in the way of you knowing God. So again, it's another example of where our feelings aren't reliable.

Laura: Yes. And where we have to go right back to the beginning, come back to God's word and what does it.

And I guess we're going in a loop here because And so just the

Anne: discipline of Yes. Of going, of coming with God's people and being with God's people. So you have an opportunity to hear from God. Yes. To address those. Cause it's a forever. Forever. Everything, right? We gotta keep learning and learning the same lessons over and over again.

and the, so the discipline of I have to be a church every week. I need that. I'm so prone to wander in whatever way with whatever feelings I've got. I'm so prone to be. Slightly off track. A lot off track. And I need that alignment that God brings to me as I meet with his people each way.

And it's so costly for. Me and my family as you're parenting children to not take that opportunity to be realigned. Cause whatever feelings they are they get in the way very often.

Laura: And I feel like we've talked a lot about it being a cost to us, right? Of going to church or when it's hard.

But actually I feel like after doing that for a few years, it's actually the place where you do get the source of joy in life and all of those.

Anne: Yes. Things that we're wanting

Laura: because that, that God's word and being in relationship with him is where we get the good things. Yes.

Anne: Yeah. And so for me now at the stage of life that I'm at every week at church is I love and it, has the normal.

Trickiness of awkwardness with people and those bits and pieces. But I love being with my church family every week and I don't find it hard at all. So that's a really good thing for you to pick up cuz I can tend to sound negative. I'm a social worker and really feelings, even though I've just said don't trust them.

And so I am wanting to. I guess empathize with how many women particularly do find getting out of the house with kids and then coming and socializing with people, find that difficult. And so I guess when I'm saying it's really difficult, I'm wanting to particularly speak to those young moms who are finding hard to get out of the house who introverts or anxious but yes For me I come to church now at this phase of life and just am every week thankful that I can be there.

Laura: I feel the same. And I don't, like we are talking about experience and feeling and all of these things here, right? But , I'm gonna go back on what we said. I noticed in my own life when I had postpartum depression and anxiety, or when there's been times where there's been hurts we relationally with people at church.

I didn't wanna go. And I found it so hard to the point where I wasn't involved in a growth group. But that was my really was mental health. And I think there is so much. Of particularly young ones, but of motherhood that just shakes everything up and having so much. I mean, I have a podcast because , I'm so much empathy to women and motherhood and how hard it can be, but I, what I really appreciate is you coming on and being like, Yes, it is hard, but.


Anne: wisely. , there's this, the way that God tells us is best to live. Yes. Is the best way to live. Be hard, is the best way to live. Yeah. He is our creator. He knows us. He knows what's best for us, and it's worth striving for. It's not going to be easy often but even if we're in a situation in a country where our life could be threatened, it would be worth it then.

, I agreed. And so we are not we are not persecuted. In that way in our country, and we have so much available to us, so easily let's encourage each other and help each other to have these disciplines in place and love each other as we do that. I

Laura: feel like that's a pretty beautiful place to land.

I'm thinking of the women who are listening and have been wrestling with these big feelings or suffering or going through these big life lessons that we've been talking about.

We've encouraged people like get back to church, be in community with God's people. But I'm just wondering, just one woman, one mom to another. How would you encourage them or what would you wanna remind them of?

Anne: Yes. I think we've talked about a lot of the things there that are Important or to hold all together.

And you've actually said to me, you're making it sound really hard, isn't it? Joyful as well. And so I think we have,

Laura: but it is hard. Yeah.

Anne: We have pushed that way. I was thinking about this though and I would. Encourage that particular mum if she's not felt not heard me to understand how hard it is for her to pull out God's word and have a read of the whole of Roman's age.

There's so much there that talks to God's understanding of what it's like to live in the world now and how tough that is and how much he loves us and encourages us to keep going and trust him. Yeah. Life is hard and some lives are much harder than others. God knows that he knows your life. He loves you. He wants to hear from you about what's hard. Clinging to him. And keep doing the things he says will be best for you. Even when they don't feel good, when it's hard to come to church, come when it's hard to read God's word.

Listen to it when it's hard to pray. Find other people's prayers to read or listen to pray with others, knowing God will forgive you and you can't. Do what he wants and you can restart this every day, have another go. Nothing can separate you from his love.

Laura: Yeah. And that's really really beautiful and thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us today. I think also pushing past your fears and anxieties and still.

Being vulnerable and showing up for us. I think it's really great, and I've particularly been thankful for the reminder to keep aligning all of my feelings under God's word, and in that to be prioritizing being in God's word and in fellowship with his people. So thank you For reminding us all of that today, and I'm keen to go and have a read of Romans eight after this, so I'd encourage listeners to go and do the same.

But for now would, do you mind wrapping up the show by praying for the mums who are listening, particularly the ones who you know are in the midst of big feelings but appealing to God's word in those?

Anne: Yeah. Very good. It's been lovely to chat, Laura, and I'm love to pray. Thank you. Heavenly Father, we do Thank you for your great goodness to us in Jesus.

And we thank you that while we were still sin as you died for us we're We were your enemies and you've brought us into relationship with you as your friends. Yet we continue to wander from you. Our hearts are not where they need to be and so we pray or forgiveness. On us for our lack of faithfulness to you.

Yet we thank you that your spirit works in us and keeps us growing in you. And we pray that you would give us strength to keep making the decisions. That bring us closer to you, that keep us in your word, that keep us in fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters. Pray that you would use us to love those around us even though we are frail, even though we, many of us are suffering and finding life difficult at the moment.

Lord, you know that. We trust you with our lives, and yet at the same time, we don't trust you and we want to. So we pray that you'd keep growing us in our trust of you. Keep growing us in our trust of your word. And that by that, you would be glorified. And we pray that for our husbands, our children, we pray that their lives would also they would grow in knowledge and love of you that would keep them close to you, and that our families would be a place of love of growing godliness and that you would buy that.

Make us a witness to your love, to the world around us, and we pray this for your glory. Amen. Ah, amen.

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