According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child born in 2013 up until age 18 for a middle-income family in the U.S. is approximately $245,340.
Riding home from church this morning, conversation somehow led to the cost of raising children. I joked with my parents, “you guys could have been millionaires.” My mom’s response? Yeah, and with the cost of college, there goes $250,000 more. That’s why I’m done paying.”
Wow. Harsh. Not going to lie, this phrase has been a pretty hurtful saying and it is no news to me to hear her say this. She has told me this repeatedly, which has placed anxiety and stress on me regarding my future.
My mom often says, “my mother never taught how to do insert task here, I figured it out myself.” She is pretty bitter towards her mother and seldom brings up happy memories of her childhood. From an early start, I was trained to believe that success was based on your performance (how hard you worked) and what you gain (stability, security) because of your performance.
Since middle school, I remember the first anxiety attack I felt about my future. At a young age I was already questioning my occupation and how I was going to provide for myself. In school, my worth came from how well I performed and from the approval of other’s, especially my mother.
I was always pushed to go into professions I did not want to go into such as physical therapy (because ~$80k+ a year sounds pretty good), simply because of job security and acceptable income. Any desire for further education for any career deviating from this turns into “you’re paying for that yourself.”
Now, I am a senior in college and am graduating a semester early, solely because I want to save money for my parents. In order to achieve this, I maxed out the amount of credits I could take (19 credits, 6-7 classes) every semester, took up 1-3 jobs (to pay off my own books and personal expenses), and joined several clubs (Christian organization, triathlon) in order to obtain some sort of social life. My second year of forced on-campus living, I dropped my meal plan to the lowest amount of meals per week (5 meals/wk) and rationed out the flex dollars on my card. As for my living situation, I pushed to find housing off-campus for my junior and senior years in order to save even more money. To put this into perspective… the amount of money it costs for living two years off-campus (in the house I am currently in) is 1/3 of the price of a single year on-campus. All this to say that saving money to help my parents has always been of importance to me.
In church this morning, the pastor said, “the voices we hear shape our identity.” He listed four ‘megaphones’ or voices shouted at us were: performance, approval, shame & blame, and fear. If you are intuitive, you will immediately notice that two of those megaphones in my life are performance and approval.
I always knew that my salvation was in Christ alone and I have always been taught that my identity is in Christ alone. But the two did not seem to match up in my life for the longest time. I still struggle to remind myself that Christ is my sole identity.
Whenever I stray from Christ, I hear the voices of others or the enemy, which is of fear and frenzy, confusion and coercion, condemnation and discouragement, stress and worry instead of the voice of God, which is of calm and comfort, clarity and direction, forgiveness and encouragement, peace and security.
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
In the last verse, God states that He loves His Son (heir) and is pleased with Him way before Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, or preached the Gospel. To God, Jesus was fully accepted before He did anything- He had not performed a single miracle at that point!
Today’s sermon was an amazing reminder of how I am not loved because I am valuable, but that I am valuable because I am loved.
Dear Lord, I am so thankful that You are a perfect Father and that You paid the ultimate price for me. I thank You that You continue to pay for my sins and continue to lavish grace that is sufficient for me. I pray for protection against the voices that yell at me saying I am not valuable if I do not perform well or if I do not meet a standard. I pray against the fear of the future and ask for peace instead. Remind me that my identity is in Christ alone and that it is in You alone that I have hope and security. Amen.