This week has been tough. My emotions are running just below the surface and range from unspeakable gratitude to nigh unspeakable sorrow. Christmas here is always a bittersweet time for our family, since we are home and yet away from home. We are soaking up the time together, reveling in the joy that comes from reflecting upon the miracle and sacrifice of Jesus’ birth. And yet we are torn, missing our earthly family and thinking of them even more than usual (if that’s even possible). In His graciousness God has blessed us with an amazing surrogate family here made up of an unlikely rabble (I use that as a term of endearment) and I couldn’t be more grateful for them. If only we could have the best of both worlds life would be simpler. Or, perhaps, I wouldn’t appreciate either group – the family or the rabble – half as much as I do in this context.
My heart is awash with so many thoughts, prayers and lessons learned in the last week. The battles always come in the ways in which I least expect them. When we moved here, I had steeled myself for jeers, alienation and gossip for many areas in our lives which are so vastly different from what is considered the cultural norm (though the cultural norm as it were is changing quickly). And in those areas we have been met with almost nothing but grace and at the very least, attempts at understanding. This week, however, I was blindsided by a hill that I barely even noticed was there let alone one that seemed worth dying upon. And from the actions and words of my child, I learned.
What started as embarrassment over what her words may have done to our reputation has turned to reflection and realization of a fault and insecurity that runs deep in this mother’s heart, and has been inadvertently imprinted upon the hearts of my children.
In my zeal and passion to instill and ingrain a love for Christ and His Truth I, instead, have passed along a legalistic set of do’s and don’t’s that entrap rather than set free. I have enlisted an if-then policy that allows little to no room for “mistake”, alteration, or even creativity. This is not to say there is never at time or place for absolutes. By golly, absolutes are the foundation upon which my faith is built.
However, as I endeavored to teach Truth, I was lead by my own insecurity and fear – fear of confusion, rejection, and future bitterness – to lead my words and deeds rather than the Truth that sets free. Oh how I am in need of Grace every day; every hour. Please, God, don’t let my need and desire for approval in the eyes of my peers to ever override Your Hand of guidance and freedom in my life, marriage and mothering. It is in times like these where I lean into the hurt, the wounded pride, the mourning of the joy that has been lost through the years of legalism, to embrace the mercy, grace, and gentle course correction extended to me by the very hand that once chose to remain upon the cross for my sake.
I sat my family down, apologized for bringing chains into our home instead of wings, and graciously they forgave and loved and hugged. We made a plan to bring fun and imagination back into our house, and to allow His love to propel us.
Yes, this week started out with me re-teaching a lesson to my children. And as tends to happen in my soul with matters of faith and the heart, rather than teaching I learned.