I often chuckle about my dueling personalities. In the midst of the insanity of a Brighten A Corner project, I am one of the leaders. I usually clock the most hours on sight, track the work that is done and needs to be done, order meals and make decisions. I laugh, fully aware of the fact that I am wholly unequipped to do what I do. The only thing that I have going for me is tremendous faith, mixed with (now) years of experience, and the ability to convince an incredible team of people to join in.
Make absolutely no mistake: THEY have the talent and the skills to do the work. I merely possess the words that got them there.
But mostly, in real life, I am a mom. I am a terrible house keeper, mediocre home schooler, and a fabulous cheer leader.
My hubby has an entrepreneurial spirit woven deeply in his soul, which is an eloquent way of saying he can’t really hold a job for any length of time. He just can’t. He would go out of his mind with boredom, and his heart would hurt for lack of engagement. So I (do my best to) exhort him to pursue his dreams with airplanes and manufactured homes.
I have worked off and on during the course of our marriage; sometimes no jobs, sometimes three jobs. Life looks different for us at different times. Stability isn’t our strong suit. Through it all, the madness of ministry and the mundaneness of motherhood and family, including (but not limited to) a child with special needs, a son who went to war in the desert on the other side of the world, a mother in law with dementia, a father in law with Alzheimer’s, an exhaustingly unstable income and a feisty personality, I have learned several things to share with you this Mother’s Day weekend. These are 5 Things Time Has Taught Me:
1.) TAKE A DEEP BREATH. I am more convinced daily that this one skill is 90% of parenting. Most of the hard times are not life threatening. Most of the bad decisions won’t ruin your child’s life. Many of the beautiful, mundane, glorious, nuanced, obvious things of life should be savored. In the good, and in the bad, take a deep breath.
2.) COUNT THE BLESSINGS. When a precious friend I love dearly woke up Easter morning to discover her three year old had died in the night for no apparent reason, I couldn’t find the right words.The grief was palpable. The worst possible thing was now. Here. Today. She began, instinctively, to count her gifts. The birds outside the window. A beautiful sunrise. A gift from a good friend. Money raised to get us through.
In the words of the amazing Ann VosKamp: “this is the word that can change everything: eucharisteo—it comes right out of the Gospel of Luke: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them … ” (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, ‘he gave thanks’ reads “eucharisteo.”
Whether you are in the worst possible place and need to get through, or the best possible place and need to remember, count your blessings. It will change who you are in the very best of ways.
3.) GET OVER IT. Life is not fair. Kids will misbehave. Spouses will be certain they know every single thing about every single thing. Money will vanish into thin air. Piles of clutter will mount. But through it all God is good and forgiveness is a balm to a wounded soul. I see so many people stuck in the cemented conviction of a lack of willingness to just let. it. go. You will always be better for forgiving. Always.
4.) LEARN A NEW WAY. A motivational tape I listened to decades ago said, “You have, right now, exactly what you want.” I didn’t really get, but I tried to believe it. It falls in line with the idea that what matters gets done, what doesn’t gets excuses. Recently this concept has shown itself to me over and over again. I keep coming across people who say they are dissatisfied with an area of their lives, but when you give them ideas about how to do that thing differently, they argue.
The arguments typically come in two forms. The first is the list of all the things they have already done to address the situation. To this I say, “Have any of those things worked?” No. “Are you trying to say that you have tried every single solution available for this problem?” No. “Then why does it matter what you have already done?” Do you want a pat on the head? Do you you want to feel like a victim? Or, possibly, do you want a solution?
The second argument comes in the list of all the reasons new ideas won’t work. The belief that one’s circumstances are so out of the ordinary that ordinary answers could never work is what they call in AA “terminal uniqueness”. It is a great term, but terminal uniqueness is, at its root, terminal. You may not die physically, but I have seen time and time again relationships suffocate, dreams wither, and beliefs shrivel unnecessarily when there are solutions and change waiting to meet with the willingness we can bring to the table.
5.) SURROUND YOURSELF. With people who are better than you at some things; who believe in you emphatically; who laugh at themselves and help you to laugh at you; who want–desperately–to do life with Jesus, family and the world well; WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN PERFECTION, except at the Cross. The best man at our wedding, and one of the wisest people I know, says that your life, 5 years from now, will be a direct reflection of the books you read and the people you associate with. Sow seeds, today, of growth, connection and triumph, and surround yourself with people who are doing the very same thing.
This serves as a reminder to me. As we come to the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, again I will meditate on Proverbs 13:20; “Walk with the wise and become wise, for the companion of fools suffers harm.” God is good. Motherhood is good. Ministry is good. Will you join me in this journey?
Stay tuned…we may have an exciting announcement coming soon…