I’m late for Lent.
Nine years ago, I was a mom of a 19 year old, an 18 year old, a 15 year old and a 12 year old.
My husband commuted to a job 90 minutes away.
I was in the middle of some of the hardest and busiest times of my life.
Trapped in a mile-long to do list.
Trying to SEE God, but constantly pulled in a thousand directions, especially at 3:39 pm.
I must have read this quote somewhere.
It struck me enough that I stopped and posted it on Facebook. At 3:39 pm.
It was probably exactly what I needed at that specific time and wanted the world (or my little Facebook Friends world) to hear it.
To soak it in.
To bask in its freeing and life-giving truth.
God SEES me.
God loves me.
Right in the middle of the mayhem.
Right where I am, not where I “should” be.
Right at 3:39 pm.
He SEES me.
He loves me.
Maybe that day, I got a little glimpse that held me up when I needed it the most.
Maybe I blasted some music on my iPod, headphones tangled around my neck.
Maybe I stopped and danced around the kitchen with dirty dishes piled high in the sink.
And maybe today at 3:39 pm, I’ll need another peek at the never-ending love of God.
Maybe I will throw on some worship music.
Maybe I will dance freely around my office.
And maybe nine years from now, this will all happen again.
At 3:39 pm.
I hope it does. I sure hope it does.
A recycled candle jar.
Me? Not my kids’ savior?
But I’m a mom and I want to be. So very much.
I like saving them.
From bad choices.
From all that’s wrong with the world.
It feels really good.
For the moment.
But I know it’s not good.
For their hearts.
Because when I am their savior,
I am also “saving” them…
From good choices.
From all that’s right with the world.
Doesn’t sound like much saving in the end.
Then what’s the point of this motherhood gig?
If it’s not for saving?
Hang on a minute.
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
What’s that still small voice whispering inside?
What’s that “aha moment” I can’t deny?
Has motherhood saved me?
bringing me JOY that I’ve never known before
revealing PATIENCE as I stumble along in the unknown
breathing HOPE when I need it the most
reminding me of BEAUTY in the ordinary moments
granting KINDNESS when I can’t find any in myself
allowing me to experience unconditional LOVE
opening my heart to see the tenderness of good good GOD
The question persists, but the answer comes.
PERHAPS IT HAS.
PERHAPS IT REALLY HAS.
(I asked three of my favorite dads…including my awesome husband…what they learned from being a dad. Here are their responses. They are brilliant.)
- Not to judge other parents. I haven’t walked in their shoes. We all need grace. It’s the hardest job there is.
- To admit my mistakes and to be the first to apologize to my kids when we conflict.
- To make the relationship and not the rules the priority. To focus on their heart and not their behavior.
- To listen more and lecture less.
- That how I live counts much more than what I say.
- That boundaries are key and that knowing how to manage boundaries (set, maintain, relax, alter, scrap, reinforce) is ridiculously complicated and confusing.
- That I lack patience and am not long-suffering.
- That it’s really hard to keep loving your kids when they are obnoxious.
- The mistakes I made as a dad can be redeemed as I grow and change.
- What it’s like to love unconditionally. Period. End of story. No matter what they did, I would love them. It helped me understand God’s unfailing love for me.
(Credit to Glenn Murphy, Allen Goetz and Frank Ellerbusch…Happy Father’s Day to you!)
You mean more to me than you will ever know. I count it a privilege that you ever take time out of your schedule to read the words that I pen, words that I agonize over, words that I edit and re-edit, words that I pray bring hope and healing to your heart and your home.
In that vain, I want you to know that my vision and mission has not changed and will not. I make these promises to you afresh, so that you have confidence when you “click” on something I’ve written, knowing my heart is for you and its desire is to bring you hope and healing in a hurting world.
I promise to do my best to take the posture of Jesus before I hit “send,” or “post” or “share.”
The posture of GRACE, the one that speaks tenderness to all, including myself, the one that conquers shame.
The posture of PEACE, the one that refuses to add fear and hate, the one that promotes reconciliation in every form.
The posture of KINDNESS, the one that sees beyond the outward actions to the inward suffering.
The posture of HUMILITY, the one that listens and learns, the one that serves and changes, bringing redemption to me and to you.
The posture of LOVE, the one that is the pure foundation, the one that moves each of us from brokenness to wholeness.
Lastly, the posture of HOPE, the one that shines light in the darkness, the one my heart needs every single day.
My heart is with you, my friend. I want this to be the safest place on the internet. We will continue to move on this journey of hope and healing together.
Thank you for reading. It means the absolute world to me.
From my heart to yours.
There’s no five-year plan right now.
There’s hardly a five-day plan.
I’m the queen of plans.
I’m used to being completely sure of all my next steps.
Now, I’m confused.
Forced to live in the moment, the present, the next five minutes.
Needing God’s wisdom and grace as I navigate what it means to
…have freedom for myself, yet thoughtfulness for others
…have confidence in my decisions, yet unwavering grace for those who make different ones
…live in the unknown, yet trust I am held by the One who knows me
…ONLY be able to do the very “NEXT right thing in LOVE.”
Maybe that’s been the point all along.
Even something as complicated as parenting choices or as simple as the choice of who to root for on the field.
And now COVID.
“I’m in this camp.”
Social media comment fights.
“I believe I’m right and you are wrong.”
“I want freedom at all costs!”
“I want safety at all costs!”
What’s at the root of it all?
WE ARE ALL AFRAID OF SOMETHING.
Not having enough _________ .
Being left out.
Not being liked.
The list goes on and on.
To be honest, I’m afraid of it ALL.
BUT I don’t want to live and act from that place of FEAR.
I don’t want it to be the boss of me.
I hope to live and act from a much better place: LOVE.
LOVE begets GRACE.
GRACE generates KINDNESS.
KINDNESS breeds BELONGING.
BELONGING creates SAFETY.
SAFETY produces PEACE.
PEACE conquers FEAR.
“There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.”
(I John 1:18)
An older mom, whose kids were the age of mine now, shared a GOLDEN NUGGET with me when my second son was starting middle school. It changed the course of my parenting and is something I have had to put in practice, albeit not-so-perfectly, especially now as my kids are mostly grown.
(The content below is based on real-life experiences. The stories may have been altered slightly and names have been removed to protect the innocent.)
- Toddler only wants to talk about, read about, watch videos about, wear jammies with and sit on tractors, especially blue ones.
- Five-year old wants to wear his Batman costume seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This obsession continues for four more years.
- Preteen asks for bassoon lessons. What even is a bassoon?
- Teenager flits from photography to guitar to lacrosse to modelling to penny-collecting to painting body for football games to Ford Mustang convertibles all within a couple of years.
- College daughter announces plans to move 2,764 miles away to pursue career in Studio City, California right after she graduates.
LOVE WHAT THEY LOVE.
- Eight-year-old’s best friend is known as the “behavior problem” in third grade. You have heard from “reputable sources” that the parents have been in trouble with the law.
- Sixth-grade son announces he has a girlfriend, the most popular girl in 7th grade (and who you heard is one of the “mean” ones).
- Junior in high school casually mentions at the dinner table that she’s dating a boy from work who dropped out of college.
- College son springs the surprise at Christmas that he is “in love” with a 33-year-old. You stalk her Instagram and she’s covered in tattoos and sports a lip ring.
- Twenty-something daughter texts you that she is moving in with her Atheist boyfriend in a few weeks and they plan to get married in Mexico next summer.
LOVE WHO THEY LOVE.
END OF STORY.
I’ve shared this nugget with my kids over and over and over and made this promise to them on countless occasions. I asked my son tonight what he thinks about it as we were having a pretty-heated discussion about my parenting (flaws and all). “Mom,” he said, “I feel like I never have to pretend, hide or worry about being someone that I’m not. I have permission to be exactly who I am. I know you love me no matter what.”
My heart skipped a beat as a tear trickled down my cheek. Yes, my child, I want you to be exactly who God made you to be and I will love what you love, and I promise, whether it’s easy or hard, to love whoever you love. I want to give you the gift that God has given to me. END OF STORY.
“Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5:2)