I'm in a bit of a funk fellow blog-readers. So, I'm sorry, but I'll be using my blog today as therapy. Instead, I should be updating the 5 or so posts I'm behind on (including Whitley's birthday party over a week and a half ago....how bad of an auntie am I?!), but, that can all wait while I sort out the feelings on my heart at this time of year.
#1. As is oh-so-typical for this season, I'm doing my best to escape reality, while seeing it approach faster and faster in my metaphorical rear-view mirror. My human nature is to curl up in a corner of my comfort place - with happy days filled with carefree, fun, spending, and eating to my full enjoyment. But, this has only added an increase to the scales and a decrease to the bank account. These days of late I've been obsessing over both of those concerns and it's brought nothing but anxiety - and therefore a desire to get right back to that "comfort place". Ugh. Nothing new in the grand scheme of my life - in fact, the same theme lived out each year at about this time. But, it has me down.
#2. Going on that same note, I feel the intense desire to cocoon my children from the big, bad, outside world. With Brayden, it's football, and the increased workload of a college-prep high school. With Mikayla, it's seeking to shield her from the girl-drama that I know will only increase in middle school. Both of them have thus far managed these obstacles well - in fact, this summer's experience with Marist football has been much more encouraging for Brayden than the Pop Warner seasons' beginnings - but, I still find myself wishing, "What if Brayden quit football?" "What if I kept Mikayla home and homeschooled?" (Both questions others have posed to me as well). Well, in the first case, that's Brayden's choice, and he is all about continuing this "Friday Night Lights" journey. In the second case, while that WOULD be Mikayla's choice, it would NOT be good for either one of us. It would only keep her from stretching out of her comfort zone, potentially add conflict to a relationship with her I'm currently very happy with, and would ultimately lead to a lot of laziness and compromise as I know how both her and I can talk ourselves out of anything if we try hard enough.
Which leads me back to that cocoon thought. The problem with a cocoon is that eventually, you can't grow any more if you stay in it. And, as a parent, that's what I need to encourage my children to do, to GROW. To make mistakes and learn from them. To recognize consequences of poor choices. To celebrate victories they might never have thought they could achieve (but tried anyway). To recognize what kind of person is worth keeping in your life and the delicate dance of learning how to let the negative ones go. To be a LIGHT to the world around them, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances. They sure can't do all that when fed a constant diet of "frat style carefree living"* and constant vacations topped off with a healthy serving of "yes, yes, yes" to their every whim and desire.
In my own life, I think about the experience I had preparing and trying out for the very elite dance and drill team at our high school. I have to wonder how much my parents bit their tongue in concern for me, knowing I had absolutely NO rhythm, (seriously, I couldn't keep a beat to save my life), I was not especially coordinated, and when it comes to dance moves....I had NONE. But, yet, they encouraged me to pursue my dream. And, when it came down to the final cuts, I was literally the last to make the team. (Based entirely on attitude, smiles, and flexibility). I worked physically harder to make myself worthy for that role than I had on anything else up to that point - and I had lots of tears, hurt feelings (from being yelled at by the tough coach here and there), and bruises to show from the physical challenge of some of the moves. But, it was the highest achievement of my 17 year old life - and I truly had to pinch myself to believe that sort of dream could unfold for me. Was it worth the risk? Absolutely. Would it have been if I hadn't made the team? Yes again.
I think as well about Whitley. There were a lot of naysayers that suggested I was out of mind (based on the expression they gave me, not so much their words), when I explained I'd be taking care of her during the days of the work week. Would it upset my daily routine? Absolutely. Would it challenge me? For sure. Would it take me out of my safe comfort zone? Mmmhmmm. Is it scary? YES! - In fact, I can't even let myself go there to consider just how scary it is to have the care and responsibility of someone else's child in my all-too-mistake-prone life. But, was it God's calling? Indeed it was. And, have I grown - and even benefited form the experience? Quoting AT&T commercial "An Infinity times Infinity" YES!
So, it's definitely time again to let the kids step outside, break through the cocoon - and maybe inch them a little bit more out of the nest. (But, it's so hard).
#3. That * next to the "Frat Life" description is in reference to this post. If you have yet to discover Jen Hatmaker, I urge you to visit her blog. She's made me laugh out loud with each of her "real life" posts and summed up so many of my own insecurities. If you go on to read the comments, you realize hundreds of women are feeling the exact same way. She was even invited on the "Today Show" because of "End-of-School-Year" post struck a chord with so many parents. Bravo Jen!
However, as I merrily scrolled through the comments, I found about one negative one for every 50 positive. And, wow, the negative ones....they were scathing! My blood pressure immediately skyrocketed and I had to prevent myself from commenting myself in attack of their attack. I wanted to tell them, "Congratulations, Satan must be so delighted with the victory you have given him in dividing God's people and judging them in such a way. This is exactly the behavior demonstrated by the Pharisess....and on, and on...." But, of course, I can't imagine that would have made much difference. (Though, many commenters blasted them anyway....generally just sticking up for Jen and her intentions in sharing her story).
So, that's been my recent struggle. I feel like I've grown leaps and bounds in loving the folks that are hurting, have made mistakes (which obviously includes all of us), and fear they aren't even worthy of love. But, what I have struggled with lately is dealing with the folks who say they are Christians, but don't shed that kind of grace. And, there's the paradigm. It's okay for me to love the unlovable, but hate those that hate the unlovable? Again, so hard. But, I'm working on it. I've always loathed arrogance, superiority, and folks that are condescending and judgmental....so it's a lifetime bias I'm fighting as well. I have to keep telling myself that insecurity and personal feelings of unworthiness are so often the motivators for these people that are indeed hurting so much more than they let on...and that does help. But, when you read a comment on a blog such as Jen's that is in response to one of these "Negative Nellies" saying, "Those kind of comments are why I don't go to church" you realize just how much victory is being handed to the enemy. Ultimately, the only thing I can do, is turn the tide to a victory for Jesus by choosing to love despite my anger. Tough stuff.
So, there you go. Thanks for taking a ride with me on my little cruise of introspection. I think I feel a little bit better.