A few months ago, one of my children had an incident at school that left me reeling. This child exhibited behavior that our family does not condone, but the issue was compounded with the discovery that issues had been occurring for months upon months and I had no idea.
When everything came out into the light, we had an opportunity to deal with the issues, to seek reconciliation, to ask for forgiveness and to move forward. It ended up being a positive experience, one of learning and growth, but during the initial fire storm, I was an emotional wreck. In that time, I wanted to tell everyone what was happening to my family. I wanted to air my grievances to the masses. I wanted to retaliate against what I considered to be unfair treatment of my child.
But I didn’t. Only a handful of close friends know the details of what occurred in that time and there are 2 main reasons for this. The first one is my child. My child is a sinner, a work in progress, a person in need of grace and forgiveness. The mistakes and bad behavior do not define my child and do not determine the course of their life. However, these things might have determined the course of their life if I had allowed my not so gracious opinions to be aired in that time.
The second reason is that those who were affected by my child’s behavior are people who are made in the image of God. No one is perfect, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect. And privacy. While the mama bear in me wanted to fight for my child, I also knew that I needed to fight for those who were involved in this issue whether I approved of their behavior or not. Sometimes “fighting for” someone else means that I need to keep my mouth shut.
The reason I share this is that I am a very open person and I share a lot of myself in this space. But it is important to note that I do not share everything that I possibly could share. This doesn’t mean that I am hiding parts of me or that I only share things that make me look good.
My sole purpose in writing in this blog is to seek to bring glory to God. Sometimes, I get it right. But sometimes I don’t. There are times when I over share and in retrospect, I wish I had not hit publish. Other times, I wish that I had been bold enough to write what I felt needed to be said.
Parenting in the social media age where lives are open books brings a unique set of challenges. Where is the line between “keeping it real” and honoring privacy? How do we invite others into the messiness of our lives while maintaining necessary boundaries to protect our children? Is it possible to bring glory to God along the way or would it be better to only share our stories after we have gained the wisdom and sanctification necessary to share on issues that are in process?
While some of these questions can’t be answered specifically, there are guiding principles in scripture that address all of these issues. It is important to note that the “heroes” in scripture are never described as being perfect. Actually, it is quite the opposite. They are described as messed up sinners and we get to see it all- the good, the bad and the ugly. The thread that ties all of these stories together is the amazing redemptive power of God. There is no sin that He can’t overcome. There is no issue that is beyond the reach of his grace. There is no brokenness that He cannot heal.
I am beyond grateful that God has not called me to share every last little detail of my life for the world to judge and criticize and make assumptions about. I mess up. My kids mess up. Even my pastor husband messes up. We are all sinners in desperate need of grace, mercy and forgiveness.
While I will continue to share my story as long as I sense that this is what God would have for me to do, I will do so out of a heart that is seeking to bring glory to Him. This means that there will be things that will not be shared here. And there will still be times when I won’t always get it right. But just in case anyone reads my words or sees my pictures and thinks that I have a perfect family, I want to tell you that this is not true. What is true is that we have a great God and because He cannot be shaken, we find our rest and our refuge in Him.
Going through tough issues with my kids has taught me some humbling lessons. One of the lessons is that I must not make assumptions of other families, because I have witnessed personally the damaging effects of assumptions. Whether a family portrays themselves as having it all together or not, every family is in desperate need of Christ. I have also learned not to judge quickly or criticize freely. Or at least I am learning this! I have been hurt by quick judgments made as a result of my kid’s behaviors and I want to be careful not to do that to others.
John Bradford’s words frequently resonate in my heart~ There but for the grace of God go I. And while I am not being led to a scaffold to be hung, I want to live with this kind of humility, owing all that I am to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
I hear your words, spoken boldly with conviction. I know the passion that resides behind them and I get that you can’t help yourself. You are compelled to speak.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes in your attempt to express your opinion, you ignore important commands in scripture. You forget to be humble and gentle (Eph. 4:2). Kindness and compassion take a back seat to standing up for what you believe. Quick to listen, slow to speak and even slower to become angry (James 1:19)? Yep, you forget those too.
Now, I know your heart is in the right place. You see injustice and you can’t let it go. Your desire to right the wrongs is strong. You want faults to be admitted, for reconciliation to occur, for unity and peace to reign. And these are wonderful things.
But don’t forget the in love part when you speak the truth (Eph. 4:15). And please don’t assume that you are always right (remember the command to be humble?!!). Even if you are right, you are still called to be gracious (Col. 4:6). Not only called, but commanded.
You see, it doesn’t matter how passionate you are, how bold you are, how willing you are to voice your opinion, if you do not have love, you are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1).
And just in case this ever becomes an issue, it is NEVER okay to demean someone else for any reason. NEVER. I know you will be hurt. I know the rejection, the frustrations, the anger. I know there will be moments when you will want to lash out, because let’s face it. There are some people who are hard to love. But the Bible never says only to love those who are easy to love. It doesn’t say you only have to be kind if others are kind to you. And it clearly doesn’t say that if other Christians are laughing at an inappropriate joke that you will get a pass.
After all, you’re not supposed to be seeking the favor of man, but the approval of God alone (Gal. 1:10).
How you say it matters. More than you know.
A letter to my 20 year old self from my 40 year old self
It has been many months since I have written a Five Minute Friday post. I have missed the #fmfparty community, but life has changed a bit for me this past year. My relationships have grown deeper and wider in my personal life and as a result, my life is FULL. I love it, but I miss the sweetness of writing in community. So today, I offer my 5 minutes on the prompt “Follow”.
“C’mere!”, she says emphatically. So much sweetness and sass mixed up in one little body.
Her insistent voice compels us to follow where ever she wants us to go. Upstairs to play with blocks. Into her new little play house that currently dominates our living room. To the basement to ride her bike. Into the family room to watch her ponies.
The girl knows what she wants, she knows who she wants to join her and she knows how to make it happen.
“C’mere, c’mere, c’mere!”, said repeatedly until one of us responds. She doesn’t believe for a moment that we will not follow her. She knows the power she holds over us.
She is the youngest after all. The one who was completely unexpected, who has completed our family in ways we never anticipated. She is loved and adored by her three older siblings. Her snuggles and kisses and hugs melt her parent’s hearts. Anything you want, baby.
“C’mere!”, she says and we follow.
And it makes me wonder- am I as quick to follow my Savior when I hear His still small voice beckoning me? “C’mere, Becky!”, said with confidence, knowing that His voice can be trusted. “C’mere” to places beyond my reckoning. “C’mere” and I will lead you to life, full and abundant. “C’mere” and I will be with you always.
I want to follow that voice. I want to follow where ever He leads. I want to recognize His voice and respond to it.
“C’mere!”, He says and I follow.
Five Minute Friday is an unedited, raw, 5 minute response to a prompt given by the lovely Kate Moutang. Check out the other writers takes on “follow” at katemoutang.com.
I have a million thoughts swirling through my brain at any given moment, but lately I have not been able to express those thoughts in a coherent or meaningful way. This leaves my soul reeling, longing for a return to writing. And so, I am going to make a feeble attempt today.
We’ll see how this goes.
My inability to write has been affected by a number of things. The most obvious is that my baby girl had to have surgery this week. Again. The impending surgery lead to a general upheaval in our family as the only possible date was on a day when my husband was planning to be at a pastor’s conference. When your husband only travels about once a year and when he is incredibly stressed by many pressing things, one doesn’t want to see him miss out on an opportunity to be poured into.
This left us scrambling. How are we to take care of our other three children when we both have responsibilities elsewhere?
But with God. Why do I forget this so quickly? I know that He is able to do abundantly above all we could ask or imagine, but then a difficulty comes and I forget. I think part of this is due to the fact that my job is a series of juggling escapades, trying to keep to the schedule, making sure everyone has all of their appropriate gear to match the given scenario. So when I am faced with a difficulty that I can’t plan, that I can’t handle by myself, I become overwhelmed by the enormity of it. And then, I have to ask others for help.
And there it is, friends. I have to ask others for help. It’s not that I have a hard time accepting help. But having to ask, specifically for something? Well, that is uncomfortable for me. Is it pride? Or insecurity? I don’t really know, but I do know that there are times when God dumps me into a situation when asking others for help is all that I can do.
As usual, He blew me away with how perfectly He arranged everything. That my out of town friend just happened to need a place to stay on the night when we needed her. That we would have mutual friends who could be here for the bus drop off and dinner. That friends would graciously provide meals for my family and bring us milk. That my daughter’s after school and before school activities would coincide with another friend’s schedule and that she would be picked up and dropped off.
Everything ran like clockwork. Not that it was easy by any stretch, but all of the pieces fell together perfectly. But with God.
Another reason for my inability to write is that life has been busy. I wrote about this in my last post on Lessons Learned Lately, but the truth is my head is spinning. Our church has grown numerically this past year and with that growth comes more responsibility for my husband. To give you some sense of what life is like, before the rapid growth, my husband was the only full time staff member for a congregation the size of our previous congregation where there were 3 full time staff members. And again, this was BEFORE the growth of this past year. And my husband is still the only full time staff member.
There are increased meetings, funerals, hospital visits, counseling, mentoring, planning and leadership training expectations. This means that we are trying to fit all of our burgeoning schedules into a cohesive plan that honors every member of our family. And still find time for rest…
Several friends have told me lately that they appreciate my transparency. I’m thankful for this, that others have been blessed by my honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. But sometimes, it hurts. A lot. Sometimes I open myself up and feel beat up as a result. Now, I am fully aware that this is part of it. God has given me a personality that is open (sometimes to a fault!) and I can’t imagine being anything but that. However, when you are a person who feels things deeply and yet you are still compelled to share your heart, you can leave feeling bruised and beaten.
God has done a great work of healing in my heart over the past few years. He has become in a deeper way my refuge and strength. I would not change my journey for anything. It has been excruciating at times, but I am learning about grace in ways that I didn’t understand before. I wouldn’t change that for the world, because we can only extend grace to the point that we have received it. In other words, if I haven’t accepted God’s grace for me, I can’t offer that grace to others.
But I don’t think I will ever enjoy being misunderstood. I am not a fan of criticism or unfair judgments on my character. I don’t particularly like disunity. And I will never be on speaking terms with rejection.
But with God. He is teaching me to rely on Him for the blessings and in the difficulties. I’m not supposed to take everything on my shoulders and handle it myself. That’s the whole point. It’s when I think that I can handle it that God has to remind me that I can’t. Sometimes life is meant to be too much for us for this very reason.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:16
I need Jesus and it is never more evident to me than in times like these. Sometimes thinking I can just isn’t good enough. But knowing that God can is priceless.