Sometimes I like to take a walk around the neighborhood. Especially after two lazy days at home due to sickness and no plans. We are in that winter is ending but Spring hasn’t fully sprung middle ground were there isn’t a lot to do. So we take to the streets of the ‘hood.
Tonight as my youngest and I were perusing the neighborhood, we ran into a lady with a dog. And dogs are my youngest favorite thing ever. So we had to pet it. I originally thought the lady was older than school age kids, but then we found out we both had fourth graders. After the initial kid talk, I asked if this nice lady attended church. And from there we found some more common ground. So much that we might even start walking the neighborhood together.
Now, I could have shooed my youngest along after she got her puppy fix, but after moving to a new place I’m in need of some connections and friends. And I could have just stuck with the few I’m making in the usual places of church and mom groups. But I also know I’m not the only one who needs friends and connections. We are all in need of a community. So I took the step to go a little bit past the surface and dive into something more meaningful. It was scary, but I think it was worth it.
We will see what the new acquaintances turns into. Maybe just a friendly face to wave at during school functions. But what if she turns into a new friend? Someone to share this bit of life with as we go thru the school years together? Either way, I’m glad she said hi back and was willing to let us pet her dog.
We have to be there and open to the new adventures that come our way.
What has come up in your path that has turned out to a blessing?
Something has been rattling around in my head since Sunday morning. And since I heard it twice, it’s a pretty large rattle.
There is an idea that my wrong is more important than your actions permeating our society. For most of my life I have lived this way. Coming from a defensive posture that the world is out to harm me. And in some ways it did. So what do I do with that? Do I role over and just accept the wrongs that have been done to me passively? Become the worlds doormat to be walked over and trampled on? Or do I stand up and shout down any and all who even have a glimmer of attack towards me? Neither.
Our church has been going thru Romans chapter 11. This last weeks sermon was titled “The Third Way”. Our pastor knocked it out of the park with an idea for our relationships. Instead of passively not reacting or violently reacting , how about we creatively respond to the conflicts in our lives?
When someone attacks us verbally, emotionally or even physically we are told not to retaliate. Instead, we should turn our other cheek. This does not mean passively accepting abuse! Instead this phrase actually means we should look the attacker straight in the eye and say your attempt to humiliate me did not work. I refuse to hit you back and prolong this violence.
It is a passive way to stand up to someone. Thus quieting the angry spirit and discontinuing the fighting. Maybe that means you respond quietly to the child who is yelling at you because they are upset. Maybe it means calling the police if you are being attacked or witness someone being attacked. Maybe it means leaving a home where abuse is happening. Maybe you need to hide an annoying feed on Facebook. Or it can even mean NOT responding to some idiot comment on Facebook.
The third way is about creativity. Not about passivity. It’s about ending the cycle of violence and turning it to one of peace. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
I know this is a similar post about our moving situation, but it’s big in my mind right now. 🙂
I just saw another post of someone who has sold their house. It was on the market for less than ours was. But I’m ok.
A few days ago I wrote a post about it being difficult to have a plan and watch it completely not happen. That God’s plan is so evidently clear that we not move yet. Despite the weekly showings and positive comments, we have not had one single offer.
I came downstairs for my quiet time this morning. Something I will admit has been lacking. The hectic summer schedule is my excuse. But really? I’ve been a bit ticked off that my plans aren’t going the way I want. Kind of like my kiddos when they aren’t getting their way.
But I came to my quiet place today. ‘Cause I needed to say I’m sorry. That I’ve been quarrelsome and angry about not getting my way. After sitting in the presence of His readily offered grace, I went thru a couple verses on my phone. I came across this:
Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33
So here we are on the untraceable path. Hesitantly searching out our steps. But always confident that our Jesus is going before us.
My last post was about moving. That was four months ago.
I expected it to be fast. That I would box up all the non-essentials and be packing a big moving truck by the end of the week. Everyone else seemed to. We had deliberated over the decision long and hard, sought wise council, prayed, debated and prayed some more. I thought that God would confirm His agreement with the decision by rewarding us with a quick sale of our home. But his agreement with us doesn’t always come in the ways I think it should.
I was sure our house would sell by the beginning of summer and we would be settling into our new home right about now. Instead we are still here, waiting. Watching diligently for the signs that it’s finally time to move on. There’s a whole slew of people who have felt sure about God’s direction in their life who then have to sit back and wait for the manifestation to come. It’s part of our growing process. These places of where we are hidden from the full truth of what God is doing on our lives.
One of my kids favorite books is Oh the Places You Will Go by the love able Dr. Seuss. It’s about going on the journey of life. I first heard in senior year of high school. My AP English teacher read it to us the week of graduation. I love reading it to my kids because of all the conversations it brings up.
There is one particular part of the book that I feel describes where we are right now. Of all the places you will find, the waiting place is the hardest. You will see all kinds of people waiting. Some are waiting for a train to come or a job to happen. Others are waiting for a ball to drop or a house to come. Some are going and some are staying. But everyone is just waiting.
And so we are. We packed the boxes, told our friends. We began the house hunt and looked for the best school. We put on our brave face to the kids that this is exciting and going to happen soon, but all the while we just keep waiting. It seems the only question we ever get is “Has your house sold?”
But it hasn’t and so we continue to wait. Living life with those we love and savoring our little community. Keeping close what is important so we know what to look for in the next part of our life.
I saw this on a friend’s wall and it got me to thinking. At it’s most basic form, this is friendship. I think as kids this is absolutely true. Somewhere along the way, as adults, we become a little more cautious.
I am always open to meeting new people and enjoy hearing about their stories. But I’m not very quick to let people be my friend. To let people into our own hearts is opening it up to both possibilities of love and support but also hurt and abandonment. We can only trust another as much as we know we can be there friend. We put our own doubts on them.
As we exchange our stories and share our lives with one another, we mark each other. In good and bad ways. Sometimes these marks are wounds. We all have them, these wounds that are little and big. So we shut ourselves down and promise to never let another in. Eventually we have only ourselves. Maybe we convince ourselves that we don’t need anyone else so we spend our whole lives just trying to prove that we are ok with being alone. I have been inside of that life. It’s a lonely place. I think it’s a place we can stay for awhile, maybe out of self-preservation it’s necessary. They are part of what shapes us and makes us. We don’t have to live life stuck in our wounds. They make lonely companions.
We are called to be in relationship with others. But that is scary to do. It is an investment of time and emotional energy.
But friends are worth it. They will always be worth it. The more I work on my own issues with trust, the more open I am becoming to friends. I am quicker to open my hand and extend it towards another. The more I do stuff with someone else, the better I get to know them. But there is a day when the closed off person needs to open back up again. When we need to start trusting again. When we need to learn that not everyone is out to get us.
So we take a step towards another. Maybe it’s a cautious step, but it’s a step. We go to the park or the grocery store. Maybe we are the creeper at library story time who shyly smiles at the other moms until someone finally notices and says hi to you. Maybe it takes someone else inviting you to a play date. And you surprise yourself by saying yes. There are all kinds of places to take your first step. So I hold out my hand to you and say come with me on this journey.
Our oldest is just a few month shy of ten. He is an observer. Taking in the situation before he jumps on board. These past few months he has been jumping into the conversation with my husband and I. Noticing and picking up on things that we hadn’t needed to address until now. One of those questions I was asked in the car was, “Why don’t you and daddy get along?”
That little missive hit me right in the gut. I will be the first to admit that I can be a big time cranky pants. Especially at home. And the last year in particular has been difficult. I don’t hide my feelings. They are all out there. If I’m sad, I’ll cry. If I am mad, I yell. If I think something is funny, I will laugh. One of the primary emotions I have had for the last year is annoyance. Annoyance that I had to take care of other people. There was a lot to take care of in myself. I know that seems terribly selfish. But when I was in the throes of depression and processing deep hurts, I didn’t have a lot of energy to focus on my husband or kids.
These are things I am making better now. But, obviously, marks have been made. If my nine year old son can pick up on the fact I don’t have a lot of patience for my husband who has been nothing but generous and sweet and loving thru all of this emotional upheaval, than the effects of my processing have been noticed. My son’s question made a place for a conversation to be had. I calmly explained that it has been hard for mommy to be happy and just laugh off teasing. That there is a place of sadness inside of me that makes it difficult for me to just have fun.
image from vitalityandfood.com
My son’s question has made me think about my own responses. I absolutely believe my home and family is the place I am safest to be upset. But I have seen that my responses to my processing were causing harm to our family. So now I take a pause. I go clean a bathroom or make something for dinner that has onions so I can have a good cry. It is not ok for me to take my bad day out on the members of my family.
You know what, all of this is ok. Because I have been honest about my feelings and didn’t stuff them inside, I have been able to allow my kids to have feelings to. I’m not saying we are a family of Godzilla’s rampaging over the city of each other’s emotions (although if you come over at four o’clock in the afternoon it might seem that way to the outside observer), but there is space in our home for people to be upset. There is room for someone to slam a door and take some time to cool down. There are also places for I’m sorry and I forgive you to be said. We have to learn about constructive and harmful ways to process our emotions, because if we don’t know the difference it will hurt others. While it’s ok to be upset, it is NOT ok to hurt others to make ourselves feel better. These are the lessons we’ve been learning at home.
It’s 8:51PM EST in my neck of the woods. I just finished putting the kids to bed. Anyone with a child will tell you that once your child can start communicating with you, or responding back to your communication with them, bed time becomes a struggle. The demands and promises being thrown around are nothing less than what a peace treaty negotiation must be like at the United Nations. I get why we all need a glass of wine, piece of chocolate or an episode of Scandal. Anything that requires that much work deserves a reward.
With the older two they don’t always put up a fight. Once they learned how to read, things got a little better. Now they can go read in bed for about fifteen minutes. But then it’s the just let me finish this page or let me finish this comic I have read at least one thousand times and I forget how it ends. Or now that you are here to tuck me in, I need a drink, or I have to go to the bathroom. Oh by the way it’s pajama day at school and I want to wear the ones that are at the bottom of the laundry basket. Or maybe there is a long list of grievances of unmet promises that were made throughout the day. I have now learned to say we MAY do something and not we WILL do something. The middle child is especially good at remembering everything. We call him our elephant brain child.
There can be sweet moments, but by the end of the forty-five minute struggle, it’s time for bed. With a capital “B”.
The littlest one is the trickiest. Because she still has that sweet baby voice and big blue eyes. She even leans her head to the side oh so coquettishly and makes here sweet little requests. Just one more song, I need all my stuffed animals, I need to go to the bafroom. All said in her sweet little sing song. And if we dare deny her it’s instant tears and the dragon emerges. But none of that lasts long. We just shut the door and walk away.
At the end of it all I know there will come a day I will miss this, but for now, my husband and I are in a battle royale with the little squirts. We will be victorious!