Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thoughts on Grace & Parenting

I am feeling a bit quieter than usual lately. There's a lot already being said on the Internet--and some of it is being said very, very well. So, today instead of blabbing and pontificating, I decided to do a bit of linking instead.

This article by Kara Baskin is about 8 months old, but I had not seen it when it made its rounds the first time. I love her breakdown of the type of child she hopes to raise, practically speaking (and her reminder that there are lots of 'ways' to get there.)

And this one from Brene Brown was really thought provoking too. Although I am not a traditional working mother, I do have many unpaid responsibilities both in and outside our household. I have struggled for some time with how to help my children learn that work is important, but not feel like the computer is more important than them. Honestly, whether I am paying bills, working on a spreadsheet or vegging out reading articles for my own enjoyment is generally not clear to them.

I especially appreciated Dr. Brown's encouragement to think of customer service in 'serving' our families. Don't talk to them over the laptop or cell phone. Give them your full attention, even if that means asking them to wait until you are at a good stopping place in your work to do so. The retail customer service example of walking around the counter to actually connect with them was a poignant one for me.

Along those same lines, this Whole-Hearted Parenting Manifesto (also by Brene Brown) was a stark reminder of one more practical things I can implement that could bless every relationship in my life. Quoting Toni Morrison, she writes: "Let your face speak what's in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I'm glad to see them. It's just as small as that, you see?"

I started trying to do this yesterday with my children AND my husband--smiling, making eye contact and displaying genuine kindness before my often critical or corrective agenda--funny how it reframed the thoughts I was having and how much of the criticism never got spoken. Pausing to appreciate them for who they ARE gave me a moment to reconsider how big of a deal their messy faces, crazy hair, untucked shirts, annoying humming, etc... really were in the grand scheme of things.

I am reminded of the love chapter, I Corinthians 13, and its admonition that without love we are but a clanging gong or clashing symbols...or perhaps a naggy wife & mother...

This parenting journey is such an adventure. Much like marriage, the sanctification that occurs as we try to really love others more than we love ourselves can be exhausting. I commented yesterday that I am often friendlier to the bagboy at the grocery store than I am to the people with whom I share my home. I wonder when they will start to notice??

I don't want to be a hypocrite to the people that know me best. We know one another's imperfections, no need to pretend they don't exist. The beauty of family is the grace in these walls to love each other for who we are, not for who we wish we were.

And who are we anyway? Broken people who claim to embrace grace. Let's love like that! We all have our junk. We can't do or teach all the things on all the great motherhood lists--but we can seek to remind ourselves constantly to keep the Main Thing the main thing.

In a sermon a few months ago, Andy Stanley encouraged listeners to constantly seek the Lord's answer to this question: Right now, in this circumstance, with these people, what does Love require of me?

The answer is not always easy, but it will keep us in a posture of prayer, forgiveness, kindness, service and grace. If we make ourselves first and foremost about the business of loving the Lord & loving others as we love ourselves, I am convinced all the rest will fall into place.

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