We started our first year of homeschool this week.
I put all the cutsey, happy pictures up on Facebook and Instagram. But do you want to know a secret?
Most of the week was overwhelming.Read More
I texted my friend this morning kind of a weird request. I asked her to do a favor for me that I knew was a little bit controlling, a little bit weird. I wanted her to just say, "Sure, Sarah, no problem. I'll do whatever you're asking." But she actually kind of hesitated about my request...and said, "Actually, I'm going to have to talk to you about this a little bit later."
And the anxiety started rising up in me.
'What does she think about me?'
'She's going to think that I'm doing something wrong.'
I started imagining what her hesitation was...and if I was wrong or right in my request. Analyzing if I could defend myself...or if I just should feel down on myself, that I'm bad, a bad person, that I did something bad.
After awhile of mulling all this over ('Am I good? Am I bad?') I tuned in to the anxiety churning around inside of me, and I turned on some music that would help turn my 'spiritual' eyes back up to God. I started remembering some of the things that I know are now true about me because of the Good News of what Jesus did for me by dying on the cross and rising again:
I don't have to be right anymore.
I don't have to justify myself by being right all the time, by never making a mistake, by being more together than other people, or always having the right answer.
I don't have to prove that I'm good enough; I don't have to have to impress anyone or gain anyone approval.
God is gracious. He made a way for me to be me: broken, a mess, often controlling and confused. And His way is that He sent Jesus to pay the price for my sin and He has given me Jesus' righteousness...so He can now be gracious to me. He is happy with me right where I am, and where He's taking me, who He's forming me into.
As I contemplated what the Gospel frees me up to not have to do anymore (be right all the time) and what it lets me be (just be enjoyed and loved and cherished by God as the mess that I am), I started realizing I think that when I'm corrected, it's a shameful thing. When I'm not right, it means I'm bad. I'm shamed. I should hide that part of me.
That's one of the biggest things that bothers me, that scares me, that angers me, that even enrages me, about how our culture deals with children.
WE SHAME THEM AS WE CORRECT THEM.
And, as a result, we teach them that making a mistake is shameful. Being in process is bad. Not being perfect is to be hidden. And we are a culture that collectively wishes we could eradicate our imperfections. You can see it everywhere, from our hatred of any fat on our bodies, to self-mutilation, to rampant perfectionism and hiding who we really are.
That's what I learned growing up. When I did something wrong, it was a shameful experience. I see it when my children are around other adults. It doesn't have to be a volatile or aggressive situation. My daughter was riding a little toy car the other day and she, on mistake, ran over a little toddler's toe with the car and several adults, without even thinking, even in tiny comments to her, spoke shame over her. It happens every single day, in every day interactions.
But the Father, GOD, isn't like that. He doesn't interact with us like that. He doesn't shame us for our messiness, for our sin. He is gracious. His discipline, His correction, is kind, is compassionate, is gentle, is good. His parenting is completely different than our culture's. His embrace is shame-free. We never have to prove we are good enough, or hide that we aren't. We can just be who we fully are, and know that we will be embraced and delighted in.
That's the true Father's love...and that is what will give me rest as I wait to hear what made my friend hesitate about my request.
2 months ago in June, we were in Target together. The five year old, the three year old, and me, the Mommy. We were walking through the toy section, looking at baby dolls.
"You can each pick out one baby doll. It'll be your gift from your sister for your birthday." I hadn't taken the time to take each girl individually to shop for her sister's birthday, so I let them each pick their own toy, and that would be their birthday present from their sister. If that makes sense.
"Now, this is a special toy, girls. It's a gift from your sister. I want you to choose carefully because I want you to enjoy this gift for a loooong time. I don't want you to get home and play with it for one day and then forget it. I don't usually buy you new toys. I don't want you to throw it in a pile of other toys and then beg me to buy you a different toy. It's your special baby that I want you to care for and enjoy for lots and lots of days, OK?"
As if I could make that happen just by stating it in the middle of Target.
But they assured me that this could NEVER happen. They swore their undying affection for these specific baby dolls. Never to leave their arms again, they pledged, and faithful mommies they would be.
They searched carefully for the perfect baby doll for sixty minutes, picking each one up, holding it in their arms to 'test how it feels.' Finally, they each had their selection and off we went to home, with the 'very special' new toy in their arms.
Later in the summer, we were happily picking blueberries with lots of cousins and aunts and uncles.
Uncle Carlos said that the person who found the biggest blueberry would get a prize. The five year old searched and searched, and when she presented her plump berry to him, she won the prize. Five whole dollars from Uncle Carlos.
So we went to Walmart. And we perused the toy aisle. Pretty similar to the 'special baby doll' selection. Only 'the best toy ever' would make the cut for using her biggest blueberry winnings: the five whole dollars. Each potential candidate was taken down, held, carried around, tested for 'how it feels'...until what seemed like hours later, a small memaid was selected and deemed worthy to take home.
Both the birthday baby dolls and the small mermaid were held in high esteem for several days. Maybe even a week. They were taken everywhere. Talked to. Held. Played with. Enjoyed.
But eventually, their newness wore off.
And where are they now? Laying, forgotten, on the floor of the car. The other is tossed casually into a pile of stuffed animals. No longer so special. No longer desperately 'needed' as was so passionately delcared when we were in the toy aisle of Target.
I noticed those toys a few times in the past week or so. I noticed them because I thought to myself how similar I am. Similar to my little girls. The five and the three year old. Because I, too, think that I so desperately need new, I so desperately need more.
How many items of clothing in my closet have I thought about, wanted, and looked for until I found the 'perfect' selection? And how many of those things are now deemed useless when I open my closet and think that I have 'nothing to wear'? How many times do I think that I need more?
Those two little baby dolls and the small mermaid remind me every time that I happen to look at them that I really do have enough, and that getting more will not make me feel happy, satisfied or fulfilled. No matter how much I think they will when I'm in the big-people's version of 'the toy aisle of Target.'
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