About a month ago, I made a promise to you all that I would be authentic. No false superhuman Christianity acting like I had it all together. Well, today’s the day–the day when I don’t have it all together and the inside of my heart resembles a nasty old garbage can rather than the cleansed vessel it is designed to be. And as a result, my worship and prayer time has been dead. Cold. Emotionless and forced. And although I’m tempted to hide out in the shadows until this ugly monster is sufficiently tamed, authenticity and transparency doesn’t work on an agenda.
Last night at church we talked about how much deeper we feel things involving our children. We may give up our place in line or a new pair of shoes, but it feels like our world’s ended when our child is asked to do the same. Just watch the face of any parent whose seen their child drop an ice cream cone. Or even worse, watch a daddy who’s being told about a school bully. All talk of forgiveness and turning the other cheek goes flying out the window.
So that’s where I am, only God is starting to break through. He has a funny way of doing that. Of gently, yet consistently reminding me that I am the adult–the one He has chosen to train this child entrusted to my care. Not just how to make her bed or how to follow a budget, but how to live life. Most specifically, how to live the Christian life. And living the Christian life means forgiving the unforgivable, biting our tongue when we want to lash out, and demonstrating the unconditional, no-strings-attached, love of Christ.
It’s funny how much time we spend training our kids on so many inconsequentials. We’ll make sure they can catch a ball by three, can ride their bike by six, and can slam dunk by fourteen. And we’d never dream of handing them a calculus book, saying, “Call me once you’ve figured it out.” But somehow when it comes to relationships, we think they’ve got it down. Like at twelve, thirteen–even sixteen, they’ll suddenly know how to make wise decisions and communicate effectively. But then thirty-five roles around and they’re throwing the same childish fits and pulling the same manipulative pranks we saw at twelve. But then again, if they’ve never been trained, should we really expect any different?
So that’s what I did today–I trained. And it wasn’t easy. Even though everything in me wanted to feed the bear, I fought it back and sought out my daughter. I think she’s grown to hate those, “We need to talk”, conversation starters. Almost as much as I hate starting them. Encouraging her to take the high road even if she didn’t want to, even if her heart fought against it, was even harder than fighting back my own dragon. But when she was done making that phone call we both dreaded, we were able to talk about it, with peace, knowing that God would take care of the rest.
In Kristen Heitzmann’s latest novel, Indivisible, one of the characters provides an interesting analogy. He equates our warring emotions to two wolves. One wolf is that of bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. The other wolf is love, grace, and forgiveness. And, according to Jay, (the character who made the statement) the wolf that wins is the one you feed. How true that is! So starting today, I’m going to actively work on starving the wolf of bitterness so that my other wolf–my loving, gracious and forgiving wolf–will grow stronger. No matter how loud the mean wolf’s tummy growls. And even more importantly, I’m going to purposefully train my daughter to do the same.
I admire your post with a hearty – way to go, girl. Because, you see, you stepped beyond; yourself, your inhibitions, your lack. To do, this is where you are so incredible, you became transparent. You weren’t afraid what I as a reader might think, like, oh, she must be a ___. As a result you honored God, using your lack as a dreaded teaching moment. What strength, to open up as a vulnerable person, not the false pretense so fakey it’s silly. Your daughters will one day honor you. Yes, that actually happens. One day you will need a medical response team because your jaw just dropped to the floor. When? At an unexpected time as your daughter has a daughter of her own and she has an ‘ah ha moment’ she will turn to you and say something like – you know mom, you were right when you did such and such. Then you call the medics to sew your jaw back. That is if you all survive the teenage years.
Back to the original thought. Christians need to hear from strong soldiers like you, because then, maybe, just maybe, when they face a similar situation, they too will think, hmmm, I’ll step up and do as Jen Slattery does, and that, I think deserves some kind of heavenly award. Hmmm, I wonder if they have orange dreamsicles in heaven? Hmmm.
Thanks, Terry. You are always such an encourager! Your wife and grandkids are so blessed to have you. And to be honest, it was a struggle. My stomach felt queasy when I hit that post button, because I do care what others think. But I made God a promise a while back to care more what He thinks. And my favorite phrase when I get nervous or insecure, “Just you and me, God. Just you and me.”
Orange dreamsickles? Now those sound good. 🙂
Jeff and I have made a sort of a pledge to be authentic this year…to be “transparent”. It’s not much fun sometimes. Your post here makes me think you need to be my mama. This is the stuff I really can’t stand…having to do those things you don’t want, when you’re being hurt by someone else. Sometimes I wish someone would just MAKE me do the right thing.
You should have been in my house two nights ago when a relative called and I had to hear someone else having a discussion with them-a completely innocent conversation, but this person has caused me so much pain and anguish over the years that lately I’ve noticed I’m becoming bitter and angry even at the thought of them. It took me all of 2 days to come down from the explosion that occurred in my head. 2 days of thinking and praying and realizing I was on the wrong path.
I wish it didn’t hurt so much to do the right thing. I wish other people would stop being such pains-in-the-neck to deal with. But you know, people won’t because that’s life. We have to deal and we have to be at peace about it and we have to do the right thing. You’re an awesome Mom for making your daughter do the hard thing that will keep her on the path to freedom and maturity. Thanks for the reminder. Must read Luke 6 again. (Just so you know, you’re killing me with all this growth!)
You crack me up, Katie. The part about killing you. lol. But I understand the fighting against bitterness thing. It’s hard to move past old hurts.