Housewives Don't HAVE to Be Desperate.We Don't Either!

Don't blame my mamma, today; blame my dad. He's the one who told me, mischief in his eye, "Son, it's like being a salesman, if you're gonna preach against sin, you gotta know your product!" O.K., it wasn't my dad's holiest advice. But it does give me an excuse for borrowing part of this message's title from the TV screen. Yes, I've seen the show, but not more than about ½ an episode. It didn't take long to get the plot. And yes, I know. If we've got Methodist grandmas (and we do) who love to see a good WWF Smackdown once a week, we've got more than a few of the rest of us watching the raciest, most popular show on the tube just now. Desperate Housewives! Some Mother's Day image this is! But wait! There's alot we can learn here. Why, we might even be thrown back on Scripture, the sacred Word, with lessons that'll help us through this life, and even get us ready for the life to come.

Talk about art imitating life imitating art. This Mother's Day does find us with desperate housewives, women on Wall Street, even sweet soccer moms in their SUVs and grammas on the internet, all searching for something to make them complete. Whole. At peace. Fulfilled. Loving and loved. 'Just like rest of us! Those TV tootsies aren't the only ones living on Wisteria La. The name fits. Wisteria's a twisting vine with lovely, cascading blossoms. It's a climber. Unless controlled and pruned, it'll utterly destroy whatever it clings to. It'll tear down brick walls, crush the life from oak trees, ruin gardens, blossoming with sweet beauty the whole time. Hmmm: like the "wives", like us, sometimes. On Wisteria Lane, Riverscape, Rita Drive, Gambrills Road, maybe. Anger, false assumptions, secrets, manipulation, deception, foolishness. Addictions, adultery, alienation, blackmail, theft, social gaffes, jealousy, teenage troubles, suicide, and more. All behind flowery masks of pretend-perfect people whose pain and pratfalls grow uncontrollably out of various desperations. On Wisteria Lane, few are fulfilled, although every one strives for an elusive, ideal happiness. We create contentment in our complex lives, built on shifting compromise, elusive dreams, and high expectations. It doesn't have to be like this. Three women/moms, show us how. And all belong to Jesus.
Character counters desperation. Take it from Ruth, one of the great, great grannies of the Lord. Matthew tells us Jesus' family tree. Among his grandmothers, Ruth, the great grandma of mighty King David. Here's a lady who lost everything except her mother-in-law and her character. 'Family, left behind. 'Husband gone. 'Sister-in-law, near ready to go. 'Every reason for dejection, depression, desperation! Naomi, her mother-in-law, releases her from any obligation and tells her it's time to look out for herself! Ruth responds with that famous pledge many of us have quoted, not always knowing from whom it came. "Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried." The story concludes with Ruth trusting Naomi. She trusts Naomi to guide her through a difficult path. And to the good life God has in store and the purposes he intends.

Character. Webster says it's the attributes and values that mark us. Scripture suggests it's the way we respond to the way God sets before us. Ruth shines in the Old Testament story. She trusts with her whole heart. She believes in a way she is willing to live. She is loyal to her loves, because she really loves those to whom she is loyal. These are the marks of her soul. She's a great woman, and daughter of God. She makes a great wife in this story. And she makes a great mom in the story of the family tree of Jesus. She makes a great impression because she begins as an outsider. A Moabitess. But she becomes a servant of the saving story of God. An insider, a family hero. A couldn't-do-without-her part of the pageantry that brings forth Christ, the Lord.

So, Ma; Auntie; Sis; Sweetie; Granny; Dear; what's up with your character? And the character you're passin' along to the people you love? Where's your role model? Who'd you like to be like? Your own mom? Fine. Your grandmother, or somebody else's you've loved? OK. But surely you can do better than the fab five on a phony TV lane where love is a confection and loyalty an inconvenience. Look to Jesus. Look to his genes! Look to his Nanny Ruth. Love that won't let go. Trust that won't give in. Determination to be faithful. No desperation or despair lives here!
Courage. It's in Jesus' blood. And in the soul of all who are washed in it. Have courage, and there's no room in the inn-of-your-heart for desperation! Who wins your Courage Award? Lots would pick the heroes of the day. Those far and near who risk themselves for us. Athletes who overcome pain for gain on-field. Those who stand for unpopular causes anyway. Pioneers in every walk of life who move the human family forward. Who's on your list? (Congregation.) I wouldn't begrudge a one. But when I think of the courage I'd like to learn and teach, I think of a woman. A mom. And not just any. I think of Mary, Jesus' mother. Not when she hears she's unexpectedly expecting. Or in the stable. Or chasing back to the Temple for Jesus at twelve. Or listening as she undoubtedly heard him preach. Or trying to get him to come safely home when things were getting dangerous. (Yes, she did that, says the Gospel.) I think of a mother with her infant, when an old, old man sees in him the salvation of God, turns to her and says, "Look, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." Nevertheless, she held him close. And wouldn't let him go for anything less than what she understood he was born to do. Nevertheless, likely widowed and sorrowed, she followed after him. Nevertheless, she went with him all the way of the cross. Though piercing indeed, she wouldn't leave without him, broken though he was. And she bore him into the cave, even as she had birthed him out of one. Nevertheless, she wouldn't give up on him.

Wanna define courage? Mettle? Spirit? For me, it's nevertheless. It's Mary. For me, that's alot of what she gives to make the real, human, earthly Jesus so divine. Nevertheless: courage. From what I've seen and heard, 'ain't much courage, for God's sake or each other's on Wisteria Lane. 'Where we live either. Unless we believe like Mary. Despite every appearance of chaos in our days and lives, despite every doubt, distraction, disappointment, and defeat, nevertheless, God is good, in charge, with a plan, for us. If we will stand for these, we'll fall for nothing less. Wanna chase desperation and despair away? Have courage. Wanna give your kids a little heaven on earth? Show them, teach them, courage? Take Mary, for example. Jesus surely did.
Mother's Day's a great day to say housewives don't have to be desperate. We don't either! Because we hold an uncommon hope in Jesus Christ. We know when we've "lost it", we're not lost forever. Jesus tells great lost-and-found stories. Especially, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son come home. He says, "What woman, if she lost a coin, wouldn't grab a lamp and a broom? And sweep the floor 'til she finds it?" Does she despair, "Oh, I'll never find it?" No, she doesn't lose hope. She just keeps goin', knowin' we find, only as we seek. Hope. It's the exact opposite of despair and desperation. In fact, the Latin sperare, means "to hope." Add the de to get desperate, hope-less. Moms who believe have the very best medicine for desperation. Hope. Hope in Jesus. Peter preaches, "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed…. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says of him, 'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope." (Acts 2) Paul writes, "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him …we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God….We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing suffering produces endurance; endurance, character; character, hope; and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit." (Romans 5)

Oh, we may find ourselves scrounging for what's missing, lost in our souls, 'looking in dim light for the one thing worth celebrating (like the woman in Jesus' parable). But at least we know what a real hope looks like. Like Jesus – and not like wisteria, all around us that's pretty but destructive. That's kinda hope-on-crack, bound to melt us down. Leave that for Nicholette, Terri and the girls on TV. When you foul up, you still have to fess up. When you mess up, you still have to clean up. When you fall down you still have to get up. When you go too far, you still have to back up. When you speak up, sometimes, you still have to shut up. When you get down, you still have to look up. It's not easy. But like the earthly Jesus, there are women in our blood and in our lives to lead the way. And like them, we have the Hope of the Risen Christ to win the day. Thanks, Mom. And thanks be to God.

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