Monday, May 12, 2014

The Girl Who Will Eat You for Breakfast

My 14 year old knows these girls.  You probably know them, too. You know those girls, the ones who send other girls into the bathroom to cry?   She chooses not to spend time with them, but they're a little hard to avoid.  They're at Youth Group, school, and Theater.  She really can't escape them and it's become quite disturbing for her.  They're that 'it' crowd and she's watched them suck her friends in and spit them out and then watched as those same girls are sucked back in again.  Frankly, she's disgusted and it's been a challenge as her mother to stand by and watch.   My trite and feeble attempts to console and encourage her fall short.  
"Keep your chin up"  
"Don't stoop to their level"  
"What would Jesus do?" 
just haven't helped.  This morning I was reminded of scripture.  On her way out the door, I told her to remind me to talk to her about heaping coals.  She was in a hurry and often thinks I'm weird anyway so she just said "ok" as she headed off to school.  For those unfamiliar, heaping coals comes from chapter 12 in Romans and reads: 
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. 20"BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
If you know me really well, you know I come from a family of very strong personalities.  I was raised by a strong, in-your-face and fairly pugnacious man.  I am a chip of the old block, albeit not so feminine.   I own a sharp tongue, sport a [very unhealthy] competitive nature, and frankly, if provoked, I am a girl who could eat you for breakfast.  I'm a girl who sees injustice, cries foul and instinctively reaches for my vigilante badge.  If you wrong someone I love, I see red.  I am not a girl who naturally comes upon relinquishing vengeance and I am most certainly not someone who feels inclined to offer my enemy a drink.

The thing is, I have to squash the breakfast binging girl inside of me every single day.  Not because she's ineffective, rather because I was supposed to have washed her away in a baptismal fountain in 1998.  I have learned there is no space inside of me for both the Holy Spirit and an antagonistic spirit.  There just isn't.  Every day I have to choose which I'll allow to occupy me.  

Today while telling my daughter about heaping coals upon her enemy's head, I told her about my battle and that she will have to make the same choice here because let's face it, we all have a little something ugly inside of us we have to fight.   I want to encourage her to allow the gentler, kinder, Holy Spirit to prevail.  It doesn't mean it will feel good while doing it and it doesn't mean we will win in every situation.  But it will mean she did as God desires her to, and after all, that's the only victory we need to claim.  Let someone else eat the mean girls for breakfast.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dear God, About This Parenting Gig...

Dear God,

When I was raising babies and toddlers I believed life was very difficult.  I felt the breast milk soaked shirts on my often unshowered body was  some form of inhumane torture.   I didn't know how any woman could survive that level of sleep deprivation or exactly how many hours one child could cry before I needed to call the doctor.  There was a time while caring for my young children, I thought I surely must be headed toward some sort of breakdown.  I believed this was the hardest work any human could do and there were days I didn't believe I'd survive.  And while most of those days are now fairly foggy and reminiscent of another life in a land far, far away - at that time, I would have sworn parenting could only get easier.

God, I don't feel like you provided me fair warning about the later stages of parenting.  You know, those years when they start rolling their eyes just a little bit.  I witnessed it done to other parents and as you well know, did it to my own, but never did I expect it to happen to me.  I was going to be the "cool" mom, remember?  My kids were going to think I was fabulous.  And really smart. Why is it they only think that until they are about age ten?

I don't remember you telling me that my arms would one day not provide sufficient comfort to ease my daughter's broken heart or that I wouldn't always have an ample explanation for all of her questions.

I really don't mean to complain, but could you have provided me some advance notice on how fruitless my effort to dispense wisdom would be?  And Lord, why-oh-why don't our kids comprehend we have already stood where they stand?  Don't they know we have the life experience and insight that could save them from a myriad of difficulties if they'd only listen?

This week has stretched my parenting skills into uncharted territory.  I've spent some sleepless hours fraught with worry while I've deliberated, Am I good enough at this parenting gig? I have to ask- how did you ever think I was qualified for such an important job?  Lastly, how I am going to make it through many, many more years of this?

 I have found myself longing for the days of diapers and cuddly toddlers.  At least I knew I could kiss away a boo-boo and all I had to do to stop the tears was pull my baby into my lap and whisper: Mommy loves you. 

Despite this big ball of melancholy and nostalgia, I am thankful, God, for your truth and the way your words fill in all of my unknowns and deficiencies.  I have quoted you quite a bit this week and can't imagine what I would have done without you.  I might often flail and flounder in this life you have blessed me with, but I never feel alone.  You are a pretty amazing Father.  Hopefully some of that will rub off on me.