Friday, February 3, 2012

Zippers and Egos

It's a rite of passage that all children must go through, the "embarrassing parent" moments. You know, the comments meant to expose you and embarrass you in front of God and everyone, such as “I’ll miss you!” or “Mommy loves you!” and the ever popular “Make good choices!” I lived through it and now laugh about it and sometimes it winds up in a skit…or a blog post.

But as my sweet, southern mother would say after I whined about my Dad sending my boyfriend a tape of me singing, "God is building character in your life". And I fell for it.

Well, now it's my turn. The torch has been passed. The student becomes the master. But in order to fly the flag of Embarrassing Parent one must acquire a child who will succumb to the humiliation of being in such a family. A child who will cower in fear and submit to a higher power that has the ability to take you out of this world and make another one just like you.

We have two children in which to inflict such pain and humiliation upon. But only one can be swayed by threats of hugging in front of his friends or blowing kisses while he's on the soccer field.

No...the other, the older, the wiser, the unaffected...will not be moved. In fact, she welcomes it. "Bring it on!" is her motto. "Do your worst!" She is unafraid. She will gladly wave and blow kisses to "mommy" and respond with "you're the coolest" to my "make good choices" battle cry when dropping her off at school. She proudly exits the car at school when my hair is unkempt and I’m still in the t-shirt I wore to bed. Don’t dare her to do stuff. She will wind up in jail. She is a rock. Non-embarrassable. Non-self-conscious.

Until today.

After dropping off my beautiful, talented, well-liked daughter at school I noticed something a little off about the jeans she was wearing. Now, Rachel has had a problem with this since...well...birth. For Graham, it's keeping his shoes tied. For Rachel, it's been this particular oversight that she's never been mindful of or cared about until someone pointed it out, and with a shrug of her shoulders and an "oh thanks" she would fix the problem and carry on with her life. No big deal.

I have searched far and wide for the chink in Rachel's armor. Her Achilles heel. And today I found it. And now that she's in middle school this particular thing holds new meaning, unbeknownst to me. So with love in my heart and nothing but the best of intentions, as Rachel waved goodbye and we exchanged "I love you's", I rolled the window down and declared:

"Honey, zip your pants!"

The next few seconds happened in slow motion. The freezing in mid-stride. The slowly turning around in utter mortification. The eyes as wide as saucers. I had done it. I had finally embarrassed my daughter

She took it all in stride and with good humor. I honestly didn’t mean to embarrass her. It was just a bonus to my Friday. She checked her zipper to make sure that they were, in fact, zipped and gave me a “Mooommm!!”

As parents, we don’t mean our children harm. But somewhere in the parent manual it says that you’re supposed to remind your children of their place in the world. It’s the same reason I read her emails and text messages. I want to know who she’s talking to and about what. She understands that she’s not entitled. There are things we must endure in life, and well-intentioned but oftentimes ego-busting parents are one of them.

I know that for myself, God laughs and says to the saints and angels around him “Hey, you wanna see something funny?” and then proceeds to put me in my place. Whether it be tripping while walking down the sidewalk, waving at a stranger I thought I knew, or asking that lady in Wal-Mart when she’s due…you get the rest of that story. It’s the natural order of things. It happens to all of us and will continue to happen for the rest of our lives. It’s just that the older you get, the less you care.

But I have to laugh, because it reminds me that I am not perfect. There will always be things out of my control. I am human and God is God. And that is such a good thing.

Originally posted May 2010.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Response to "Don't Carpe Diem"

I hate conflict. Hate it. I don't like it all. I feel uncomfortable contradicting someone. Especially when everyone is so excited about what that person is saying.

Which is why I really hate posting this blog, but I feel as if I need to do so. But just a side note, this seriously puts my stomach in knots and makes my hands shake, but here goes.

There has been a blog post circulating called "Don't Carpe Diem". The first time I read it, I got the warm fuzzies that are intended for the reader. But I also got some ringing bells, a few sirens, and a whole bunch of red flags.

As Christian women we have got to be careful about what we accept as good advice. Let's just break down the Don't Carpe Diem post.

The blogger writes about older women ("little old ladies") telling her to "carpe diem":

"I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn't work for me."

First off, if you KNOW that something is right and good, as Christians, shouldn't it work for you? To say that you know what to do that is right and good but that you "can't" is to say God can't work in you.

"Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Philippians 1:5

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come! The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Second, the blogger says, ”I felt guilty because I wasn't in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn't MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing."

But the Bible says,

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

The blogger goes on to say that she is not able to enjoy every moment and that she simply cannot carpe diem.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
James 1:2-3

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 Or as the NIV Reader's Version says, "Teach us to realize how short our lives are."

Yes, I know the main point of the blog is that we can't always be shiny, happy people when our kids are screaming and pooping and throwing things. And I know that it gets overwhelming and frustrating when we get told "what to do" by the women who have boldly gone before us.

Which, by the way,

"Then they (older women) can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:4-5

Want to rock that Titus Woman's world that feels compelled to give you advice in Target and tells you to enjoy it because it goes by so fast? Ask her how she did it. Tell her you're having a hard time and would love to know specifically what she did to enjoy every single moment. Not in a sarcastic condescending way, but with true curiosity and a desire to learn from your elder. That is absolutely God's design.

I understand the sentiment of what the blogger is getting at. But friends, sisters in Christ, we must be on our guard when messages look like they're great advice. She's saying that this message of "seizing the day" and "making the most of every opportunity" is really hard and doesn't work for her. Okay. But shouldn't we try? Just because it's hard and a fact that every mother (and father) suffers through and endures, shouldn't we give it a go since that's what the Bible tells us to do? Is it ever okay to say, "Well, that's just the way that I am, so that's the way I'm going to be"?

"Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."
Philippians 2:12-13

We're actually called to be perfect.

"Be perfect, as I am perfect." Matthew 5:48

James 1:1-4 lays out how we achieve perfection, or completeness.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

God's not saying be Martha Stewart perfect. Or even those "mamas in the parenting magazines" perfect. In all honesty, I don't think anyone is. But we should be ever moving forward, becoming Christ-like. God has given us everything we need to be able to achieve perfection.

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." 2 Peter 1:3

He says to "be perfect, like I am perfect." Not like the mom who has 5 kids, volunteers in all of their classes, sews all of her kids clothes, while cooking her way through Julia Childs cookbook.

Perfect like Christ.

"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:1-5

I'm not even saying that her sentiment is bad. It's really, really hard (really hard) to be a parent and to filter the 942 bits of advice from everybody and their mother and not feel overwhelmed.

The problem with the blogger's post is that she has some truth mixed in with contradictions to scripture. And I believe that at the first sign of contradiction to God's Word, we should turn and run the other way. Otherwise, what a great way for Satan to get his foot in the door.

Let's say, for instance, that Truth is a sterile operating room in a hospital. If even one person enters in the operating room that hasn't scrubbed their hands and arms and hasn't put their mask on, then the whole room is tainted and the surgeons and nurses have to start all over again. It's useless.

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-7 about "having a form of godliness but denying it's power." Paul's got some stuff to say about the nature of women. Yipes. I didn't write it. Paul did. So take it up with him. (My husband made me put that scripture in so you can take it up with him too.)

As a mom of two young teenagers, I've made tons of mistakes. I'm sure my kids could write a book one day of all the things that Randy and I have done wrong. But I do know that God has entrusted me with their souls and that terrifies me. Therefore, a plan that Randy and I have is that when our kids are acting outside of God's will- when they are being defiant, or painting my car with craft paint, or smearing their poop all over the wall, or asking very loudly why that woman is so fat, or running out into the street, or lying from their face to my face…it's an opportunity to teach them. It does not make me happy, but I can find the joy because I know for a fact that He is making them. And He is making me. And we will always…always…measure up advice against God's word. Even from those blessed "little old ladies".

So I will carpe diem. Every day. And I believe that if I'm not, I really should be.