We've all felt it. It comes in various shapes and sizes without respect for age or background. It can kick you in the gut—when you don't get a desired job, or make the team, or garner attention from someone you were sure you would marry. Maybe it stabbed you when a trip to the bathroom dashed your hopes of a longed-for pregnancy. I still remember several years of that longing-turned-disappointment.
Sometimes I walk too fast. People who know me laugh at this. Someone once taught me a really valuable lesson using this simple example. When I walk ahead, sometimes I can feel left behind, but it's up to me to slow down and keep pace with the person I'm walking beside. Slowing down and letting them set the pace, letting them lead, results in me no longer feeling alone, frustrated, or impatient and waiting. Recently, I've been learning to slow down and really pause on the phrase, "one day at a time". When I think too far ahead I can get easily overwhelmed, frustrated or even afraid. It's as though I'm letting my thoughts walk too far ahead, instead of walking in pace with Christ. Believing, and accepting, Trusting, is hard, but it's a lot easier one day at a time. This has been the prayer of my heart recently,
I love the Bible.
Every day it gives me hope and keeps me sane. Every day it saves me from my own angst, my sinful thoughts, my despair over this dark and dangerous world.
I'm working on diving deeper into the Bible with my daughters, especially my preteen (age 10). I want my girls to understand that the Bible is not just a holy book, formal and distant and vaguely frightening. I want them to know the Bible as God's living word: A comfort we can rely on in daily life. A tool that teaches us who to be and how to think. A guide that helps us understand God. An insight into how deeply God loves us, even when we make mistakes.
Recounting a recent conversation between my daughter and my nearly three-year-old granddaughter, I was reminded of the struggle it can be to let go of control in our lives. (Disclaimer: Gracie is as joyful and sweet as they come...but the inner struggle occasionally gets the best of all of us, whether we are two or ninety-two years old.)
Parenting pep talk #1: For those days when your three-year-old has declared herself The Boss of the Family:
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right". --Ephesians 6:1 (NIV)
You know what this scripture DOESN'T say? "Children, obey your parents in the Lord when you feel like it."
Nor does it say: "Children, obey your parents reluctantly, after hours of negotiation."
Nor does it say: "Children, obey your parents after throwing a ginormous temper tantrum."
You know what else it DOESN'T say? "Children, obey your parents in the Lord when they are perfect."
It's the moment when your heart aches, as you see someone you love grapple with a question you know the answer to, but it is not your place to answer. It makes no difference if it's a beloved friend, spouse or your child, when we see someone we love question or struggle on their journey, it can be hard to just let them. Taking my hands off my life means just that sometimes – accepting what is and letting people do their own wrestling while I lay them at the foot of the cross.
I started off last year learning about God's long-suffering love for me. When I have looked at life's circumstances and been tempted to think him angry, disappointed or withholding, I have instead found him patiently waiting for my realization that he is working miracles in my heart and mind. For me, the greatest spiritual battles are played out on the field of my mind and heart.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -- Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
If you are reading this chapter because you know that you were abused in the past, then you are a fortunate person. Fortunate, because you know you were harmed and know you need healing. Many are reading this for someone else and may miss the personal message and the healing God is offering them. Everyone, open your ears. God's supreme desire is for your life's foundation to be an intimate, safe and loving home atmosphere much like he created for Adam and Eve. Childhood should be free of "the knowledge of evil" and full of the "knowledge of good." But, for many of us, that simply was not the case.
Our parents and others in our lives were sinners: in fact, all of us are sinners, too (Romans 3:23). God acknowledges that people will sin—but he does not like it. It does not minimize the harm done, especially when it has an affect on children.
By the time you read this everything will be different. All the moments I am about to describe will have passed, but right now, right now there is a friend getting ready to put on her wedding dress, another prays for her child to live, yet another boards a plane for a funeral. In this moment I am standing at a traffic light on my way to work as one driver rages and honks at the other from their car. While all this is happening my mind floods with both thoughts and emotions in reaction to each of these events. All the emotions come at once and I bring to mind my own circumstances, the things in my own life I am grappling with. Through my headphones Chris Tomlin is singing, "How Great Is Our God."
I was a cheerleader in high school and loved it. I wasn't much into the formations or building elaborate pyramids, but I loved cheering on our team at the games. I loved getting the crowd excited because I believed that if we could be loud enough together, we could give our team the boost, the momentum, the something extra they might need to get the job done and win the game. Our job was to keep the crowd behind the team no matter what.
Now, years later I am living my life and standing on the sidelines in my children's lives, learning to perfect a role I first learned about as a teenager. More than one set of parents I spoke to stressed that one of the biggest roles we play as parents is that of cheerleader in our adult child's life. It's a normal, built-in desire to know that our parents are proud of us, that they believe in us and that Mom and Dad have our backs no matter what!