I have a lot to write about...but honestly, none of it holds a candle to two posts I've read this week by Emily Freeman. (Her titles are directed at daughters, but the advice is incredible whether you parent boys or girls...and for those who mentor/lead youth.)
When I read the first post, One Thing Your Daughter Doesn't Need You to Say, I cringed uncomfortably, then nodded and felt a bit conflicted. I was one of those good girls she describes, raised to believe that I needed to be a leader and example. While I believe the heart of this (not being a stumbling block) is true, in my immaturity it was frequently works based and Pharisaical. Wild kids in my high school called my clique 'the Cross Posse' and we liked it.
As I aged, the need to always have it together and be a good example became exhausting. I felt trapped by my image and it led to some hypocrisy. My outside behavior didn't always match my inside heart condition. My closest friends got a far different version of me than the world at large. While I still struggle with some of these residual issues, I have found that the depth of my ability to minister to others has improved dramatically as I have become willing to live more authentically. I am still not planning to air my dirty laundry for all the world to see and hear, but in relationship I am working on stripping off the image in favor of what's true.
(For more on this, I recommend this TedTalk about vulnerability from Dr. Brene' Brown.)
I am learning with my young children that they can (already) smell a rat. When I blow it they know it whether I confess/apologize or not. Humbling myself to admit my own struggles with fear, self control, impatience, etc is received beautifully by my children. I am not a fan of glorifying sin, but owning it seems to do far more FOR my credibility than pretending to have it all together. Hopefully, they are getting glimpses of sanctification through my stumbles--and growing up with a model of 'real' faith being worked out--albeit quite sloppily at times!
Which leads to Emily's follow up post today, 12 Things Your Daughter Needs You to Say. I frequently roll my eyes at checklist approaches to life--but this one is chock full of simple, yet profound truth. Hope, humility, love--a beautiful framework for family life!
I am brought back to the reminder that we aren't raising children to worship us...we are called to point them in the direction of the only One worthy of their worship. The single greatest way to do this seems to be to keep it real in our own faith. It takes courage and humility...but in the end, living authentically is far more powerful (and simple) than simply keeping up appearances.