Month: November 2016

Learning to Let Go

Raising kids is not for the faint of heart. Every stage of bringing up those little ones has its own challenges. If you have even one kid, for even one moment, you know this is true.

My youngest kid just got his driver’s license. It’s the fourth time I’ve taught a kid to drive and watched them drive off alone behind the wheel of a car. You’d think it would be easy this time. But it’s not. I can’t help but think of the damage that can be done by an inexperienced driver. So I do what I’ve always done, and keep doing for my young drivers, I pray. And I let go a little bit.

Some moms have a hard time letting go. We’ve invested a lot of time, energy and well, money, into these kids. There are not too many other projects we pour ourselves into like we do our kids. But let’s be honest. Some of it’s for them, but a lot of it is to prove to the world that we can do it, that we can get these kids to adulthood not needing counseling. The measure of their success as human beings reflects upon our own success as parents. So we want them to do us proud.

We want them to be the best ball player on the team. We want them to earn the most badges or sell the most rolls of wrapping paper. (It’s why you take the brochure to work and beg your coworkers to buy paper they could get for a fraction of the price elsewhere.) We want them to sing the prettiest, stand the tallest, run the fastest, and achieve the highest. We want moment after moment something great to post or talk about. We need the evidence of our mad mom skills.

But raising kids is not about us. Not really. I mean it is, because in doing it we learn so much about ourselves. We see the best of who we are in our kids. And we see some of our shortcomings, too. But raising kids is about them. By nature, kids are selfish, and when they are little, we have to cater to the selfishness in order for them to survive. Feed me, warm me up, change my wet, cold diaper! We spend years meeting their every need to the best of our abilities, and then wonder why they come to expect us to do that. About the time their voices drop, we suddenly want them to appreciate us and all that we have done for them for so long. Why?

Because without warning, Mom, you are not the only game in town anymore. Suddenly we find they think someone else is pretty cool. Maybe cooler than you. I know. It’s crazy. For years you have been the hero, comforter, teacher, soft shoulder. Have they forgotten those long nights of no sleep? Have they forgotten the extra shifts you worked so they could play ball or take lessons? Yes. They have. Something, someone out there is grabbing their attention now. You are holding onto their hand, but they are pulling away. Looking at something… out there.

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If we are not careful, as moms, this can be a very selfish moment. Suddenly, we can only think of the things they seem not to be able to remember. The moments, hours, and years of care and nurture. The sacrifices, effort, and energy expended. Now we want our reward. Now we want them to pay homage to all that we have given. Now we find we have a vise grip. Now, when the time has come for them to look elsewhere to others. Others. We don’t like others, do we? Yet we need to be okay with others. Oh, we need to monitor the others, for sure, but the truth is, it is through the others that all we have taught them will be measured. Can they successfully live with, work with, and relate to the others? Can they let go of our hand and be okay standing there alone, on their own? We won’t know until they do it, and that means we have to be okay with loosening that grip.

It is likely the hardest part of being a mom. Finding out that they are okay without your opinions and control, even if they don’t do it all the way you think they should. Finding that all that effort really has paid off. That when their attention was turned to you, that they really did listen. That they did learn to love, give, protect, and stand… from you. But all of the effort was for them… for when you let go.

Mom, that’s the reward. The reward is that when we let go, they can do just fine on their own.

More Than Words: Or the Difference Between “But” and “So”

Back in the 90’s the band, Extreme, put out a song called, “More Than Words”. For reasons that escape me, that song came back to me this last weekend. I was sitting outside enjoying the fall weather, while my chickens ran around the back yard, when the words came to mind. Not some of them. All of them. Now mind you, I can’t always remember where I put my phone, glasses, or purse, but I could suddenly remember all the words to a song from 25 years ago. The mind is a weird thing, I tell you. I know it has to do with short term versus long term memory, and since I don’t think you want to travel down that rabbit hole with me, I’ll leave it there.

Another thing I can’t remember is exactly when the words in the Bible became more than words to me. At one time in my life, they were just that. I mean they were good words. Words to live by, I guess. I believed they were true-ish. But at some point or another, I allowed them to become more than just words on a page. At some point I stopped saying, “I know what the Bible says about that, but…”, and started saying, “I know what the Bible says about that, so…” The difference between “but” and “so” is enormous.

The Bible says this about itself in Hebrews: “The word of God is alive and active, and sharper than any two edged sword”. The words themselves call out to us, telling us that there is more there than meets the eye. The words in scripture have the power to divide spirit and soul, joints and marrow. Now that’s getting down in there. It goes on to say that it exposes our thoughts and desires. Mere words on a page can’t do that. Words can make us feel things, but the words of scripture dissect and expose us!

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When we begin to live our lives with the understanding of the power of the scriptures, it changes how we see those words. Take for example the verse that says there is life and death in the tongue. And the one that tells us we will give an accounting for every word that comes out of our mouths. Now if we truly believe the power behind those words… we will watch our own. We will stop justifying our harsh words with the actions or words of others. We will try harder to speak life and truth over others, and refrain from careless words that wound or manipulate people.

I think we all need to get to the point in our lives with Jesus that we decide we are going all in and believe it all, and we are going to open ourselves up to the scriptures’ dissection. We are going to allow the words to dig deep into us and change us. When we do that, things begin to change. Slowly and steadily, we begin to see the world a bit differently. We see ourselves differently. We see through new eyes. We walk, react, and live differently. To others, we look a bit odd. I’ve had more than one person tell me that I didn’t seem to always live in the real world. Just to be clear, this was not an intended compliment. I smile a little when I hear that because I beg to differ. I think it’s me that lives in the real world, and they live in the world of their own making. I know, I used to live there myself. It’s all about worry, anxiety, offense, panic and fear of loss.

The Lord gave us the words of scripture to be more than words to us. In those words He gave us truth, love, and power… and it has always been His intention for us to walk in those. Are we going to be a “but” or a “so”? It’s a subtle difference, but that small difference changes everything.