Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let it Go

Feeling a bit of a failure today. Even feeling like I shouldn't post this because it is 100% text (a no-no for blogging), 100% self-focused (who cares, anyway?) and probably 100% from a distorted perspective (which is why I'm writing it in the first place!)

Seems pretty immature and really just plain stupid to say that after the conversation over lunch with friends in which we talked about how it's "not about us," after the reading I've done just lately about "sacred parenting," and after the ways that the Lord reminds me that His power is now completely mine as well. But, it's the truth about how I feel at the moment nonetheless. And this is where I come to think it through.

A couple things are at the source of it, I think, so to get to the true root of it, I need to figure out what's at the source of them.

First of all, I'm just feeling sort of on the fringe. I don't quite fit in any of the groups with which I'm somewhat connected. I think perhaps at the core of that is my constant struggle to live with purpose because that is something that most of these people seem to have mastered (from what I can see of their lives)--singular focus and purpose.

Does my life in any way show what I'm really about? Do I even know what I'm really about, or do I just like to talk like I do? What is our family's purpose? How do we live that out, in our home and outside of it? Am I living out the true and best purposes of parenting? What are the purposes of hard seasons in my life? Am I teaching my kids to see the deeper purpose of the things they encounter in this world?  I just feel like I'm drifting, unconnected and without  a steady course to follow.

Second, I reread my post from the start of summer and can see so many ways I've failed  at being intentional with my kids and failed at being consistent in spending time listening to and being with the Lord. A better way to say it would be that I can see very few ways that I've been intentional about either of those areas of life... and those two things, if I had to say it simply, are what my life is supposed to be about.

Have I spent truly joyful time with my kids? Have I in any way pointed them to the Lord during this short season when we have more time at home together? Have my words and instruction built them up or just torn them down and shamed them? Do I truly want to hear God's will for my life or do I let myself believe I'm doing it pretty well on my own?

I often think back to the year I took the first year of LHM (Leaders for the Harvest Ministry). We were working through putting our values onto paper. One of the leaders cautioned us to check our lives to see if we truly lived them out or if what we claimed to be our values were really just aspirations. To me, that cries hypocrite! And when I examine my life, I'm afraid that's most often where I land.

{I'll insert here that during LHM, we also learned about personality types. I was among the 1% of people in the class who fell into the category which is highly analytical and sets an extremely high (and constantly rising) bar for themselves. So I realize I am exceptionally hard on myself, but at the same time I am gifted at analyzing the deeper aspects of situations which most others tend to gloss over. So I'm totally unrealistic but completely logical all at the same time! Just to give you a little perspective on how my mind works as you read this post.}

Third, I seem to have lost any ability, limited as it has always been, to parent with grace and creativity. My discipline techniques fall primarily within the well-known "squash technique." Squash any resistance and regain control! Now, if weren't of the personality described in the previous paragraph , I would chalk it up to parenting 4 kids ranging from a strong-willed 13-year-old to a spunky 2-year-old and explain it away easily enough. But I know well that it runs much deeper than that. I read a paragraph about Gary Thomas's book Sacred Parenting that summed it up quite well (pretty sure she's paraphrasing, so please forgive if this is a direct quote I should be citing; I haven't read the book for a few years!):

When purpose gets crowded out: When we neglect the spiritual aspect of our parenting, we easily become resentful, controlling, intolerant and demanding of our children in ways that are not only unfair but unloving.
I'm pretty sure my instinctive responses to my kids have fallen most frequently (and increasingly frequently as the summer has stretched on) into the categories of controlling, intolerant, demanding, unfair and unloving. Yuck, yuck,and double yuck. Not a lot of the Fruits of the Spirit growing on this tree.

As I typed that, I'm instantly reminded of God's promise to me a 2 1/2 years ago before Tori was born... a promise of pruning. Cutting back, bare branches, dormant growth. But He gave me an even greater promise of long-lasting fruit and deeper beauty yet to be born in my life. And He's given me glimpses over the past two years of the blossoms He's sprouting in me and my life. Oh, He is so good!

What an encouragement that even as I write about the ugly realities of my life and the struggles I continually face, He reminds me of what He's up to, what His true purposes always are. Reminds me that His promises are unchanging even when I am not. Reminds me that part of the pruning process is getting rid of the dead branches to make room for the new and beautiful growth to come in later seasons. (Granted, I'd like a little more clarity and specifics than He often offers, but despite all my questions, one thing I've learned is to accept the way He speaks!)

Do you see now why I have to process this way?  It just takes me a lot more words than some to get to the point of understanding! Feels so good to let it go.