For years, a friend of ours, who happens to be a counsellor, has been offering to meet with me to "talk".
There have been many occasions where we have prayed together and visited together...but just as friends. We've never really taken on the roles of "therapist" and "client". My insecurities limited my ability to see that she WANTED to give me guidance, and I let my fear of becoming a burden, overshadow her graciousness. So in all the years I've known her, I've never taken her up on her warm invitation.
I felt an unmistakable nudging to open my heart to her. To unpack the boxes of confusion, and resentment, that I'd been so awkwardly lugging around. Yesterday morning, I threw out any silly notion about being "needy", and went for that much needed session.
Her words of wisdom lifted layers of ignorance from my eyes and my heart. She showed me where I'd had inappropriate expectations, and been causing someone dear to me a great deal of pain.
My friend provided wisdom, clarity and truth.
She directed me to hope. Weightless, freeing, HOPE.
The loaded sense of selfishness, confusion, and resentment is gone.
Thank goodness..... one less thing to move into our new place.
Disclaimer: There is nothing wrong with parenting books. There is nothing wrong with parenting books written by Christian authors. There is nothing wrong with me. The author of this post is not trying to discourage you from reading the parenting books that you are reading and enjoying.
Paging through the book Confident Parenting, I was captivated by a chapter called, "The lesson of the Shema". Let it be known that I have a deep rooted affection and interest in and for the Jewish faith, and was therefore intrigued by this Hebrew-sounding word. I am not Jewish (although i do wish i could have stepped on and broken a wine goblet at my wedding ceremony), they are however, an incredible people and have many family-based traditions that I completely respect and love. SHEMA. The word caught my attention.
But what does that have to do parenting and/or confidence?
Here's a portion of what I read: "Shema-is a Hebrew word from the Old testament. It means to listen or to hear. The Shema is the creed of the Hebrews, and it is found in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy. It teaches loyalty to God and how to transmit faithfulness to our children.
Hear. O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about the when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
The Shema contains one of the most important lessons for a family. Having faithfulness pass from generation to generation occurs when parents take the lead to talk about and live out their authentic faith in the most natural of settings for their children-the home". Confident Parenting Burns. Jim. pp56-57, Bethany House Publishers.
There are SO MANY parenting books out on the market. SO many.
And I've never been afraid to say how much I loathe them (or read them with trepidation). Mostly because they all have great, very practical, "hands-on" ideas....that unfortunately only serve to increase my guilt, and my insecurities about my job as a parent. Now of course, that is a PROBLEM. That is an ISSUE. That is why the parenting books aren't helping.....ME.....because I open them with an ATTITUDE.
Yet somehow this book (or chapter) is different. I'm wondering if the words encouraged me, simply because of its simplicity and familiarity? NO steps to follow, no ingredients to dig up in my tired heart, and no impractical expectations to fill. Only a reference to the bible. The Holy book that I so dearly love! And I have a copy already...I don't even need to order it on-line! The bible is truly where all the answers to parenting are, I guess I knew that already....but I needed to be guided there once again. I needed the reminder.
Our family/my family, needs simple, uncomplicated formula's to live by. Even though I lOVE to print them off from the blogisphere; TOO many steps, charts, or guides/formulas to remember....and we fail and get discouraged. I see it in myself, my husband and my children.
Loving God, turning to HIM at all times, looking to him before solving the big and small problems....takes the pressure off of me to be a super parent. When I fail, I won't be as hard on myself because I'm trusting God. HE should be the source of my strength and wisdom.
Ireally wish I didn't need reminders of His great promises. I wish i would have an unfailing knowledge of them. Yet, I know I'm not alone in feeling that way...and I gather that is why it says in Deuteronomy, "Tie them as symbols to your hands and bind them on your foreheads"....in other words, do NOT forget!
This all may actually inspire me to start the book "Confident Parenting", from the beginning and finish it to the end (don't count on it)! Perhaps I'll just keep practicing saying the word Sh' MA out loud, and work on memorizing Deuteronomy. 6:4-9!
This week I will be attending the funeral of a little 7 yr. boy, named Adam.
He was killed in a farming accident. Driven over by a combine.
~I try to fathom what life has now suddenly become for his mother, his father....his little brothers?
~I dig deep and wonder:
When you are stripped down to the rawest form of grief,......
When you are completely worn down to the point of immobility,...................
When your mind is incapable of processing the fact that your worst nightmare has come true,...........
When your world has come crashing down and literally STOPPED,...................
When your own flesh and blood is no longer alive,.........................................
When you long to die so the pain and grief ends,............................................ .....what happens?
How does one go on?
~I ask myself, seeing images of the accident play out in my mind...
How can this be?
WHY did this happen? Why such a horrific death?
The things that once mattered and seemed so very important, are no longer.
That must be part of it, part of the.."what happens", after such an experience.
Everything pales in comparison.
~In my bewilderment I close my eyes and pray...
God. The only one who can speak directly into our soul,
and knows every intimate detail.
Who gives sustainable peace.
Who holds us up.
Who quiets our fears.
Who understands first-hand our pain and suffering.
Who bore the sin of the world-
so we could live after death.
Comfort your people.
Send heavenly protection to all those who grieve.
You have prepared a place for us.
How we long to be with you.
Come Lord Jesus.
I can't help but marvel at how, on many levels, my life is full of irony's. .
In fact the craziness of it all regularly keeps me up at night.
I stare up at the ceiling through the blackness, asking God repeatedly...why? why?? why???
No, actually I'm being a little dramatic (sort of).
Its really just a bi-weekly passing thought.
~I grew up in a home where we had daily devotions, trips to Disney, and endless hugs of affirmation. My dad played the guitar and we sang together. We did the "special music" in church as a family, and sang 4 part harmony (just like the beloved Von Traps). It was beautiful (i hated it).
I married a man, who as a child, regularly made his own meals and washed his own clothes at the ripe old age of 8. His parents didn't hand out many words of affirmation, and the Von Traps didn't resemble any part of the family unit. Sound of Music wasn't even included in the record collection. Thus, our parenting skills have been known to clash, and expectations in our marriage have from time to time "come up short", mostly due to our differing formative years.
~I started to bake for my family when I was in gr. 4. Brownies were my specialty.Years later, it was bread and cookies. Baking became my go-to-activity for boredom or stress relief. If Kent came home to a sink crammed with mixing bowls and dirty pans, he knew to ask if everything was "A-OK". As a mother my affinity for mixing ingredients together to yield yeasty, carbohydrate goodness continued to satisfy. Baking together was a fun family activity.
Then last summer my 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Wheat flour unintentionally transferred from the counter to her skin now makes her stomach hurt to the point of tears, and her body break out into a bubbly rash. Gluten is toxic and if consumed, immediately damages the lining of her small intestine. Its a life long disease.
Needless to say, my spontaneous baking festivals have been cut short. My favourite recipe books remain closed (or are sold on kijiji). I don't bake anymore to relieve stress or surprise the family with sugary goodness. I bake now out of necessity. Gluten free muffins, cookies, cakes and pizza dough pretty much cover it-that's all I can bear to do. Gluten free baking is not pleasurable. The dough tastes like Elmers glue. When Kent comes home to dirty mixing bowls and a cooling rack laden with muffins, he knows I've had a good day.
~My mother was the ultimate pastors wife. Company over for Sunday dinner after church, leader of committees, regularly soloist, incredibly talkative, very involved (girls club, quartets, bringing food to needy, hungry, happy, random people) She was excellent at everything she did, and it was all done sincerely. She started a community women's bible study on practically every street we ever lived on (knocking on doors and churning out coffee).
I on the other hand, do NOT have regular company after church on Sunday. I intentionally do not lead anything in church, do not like to sing solos (don't have moms soprano voice anyway), can be found ducking into Kent's office after the church service to hide, and really only converse with the neighbors when we happen to be outside at the same time (door knocking reserved for Halloween candy and Christmas cheer). This pastors wife is slowly working her way back to involvement, but is a sad reflection of her motherly role model.
~Like most young mothers I prayed that my children would be obedient and polite social beings (As an old mother I'm still waiting praying for that). When they were small and relatively non-verbal I read all the books, about training children to immediately OBEY. i.e. to sit quietly in church, to respond when greeted, to wait patiently and to listen to my every request. It was important for us to appear that we had it "all together". I really wanted our church congregation (where Kent was new on staff) to feel that we were a family to be admired.
I was blessed with a first born who, as a toddler and preschooler, liked to move and scream...constantly. All the time. day and night. Every minute of the day. Did I say constantly? Church was not conducive to these out of control, animal like tendencies. Running up and down aisles, screaming, undressing, biting and crying were not behaviours generally encouraged during worship. I experienced a great deal of self- induced shame. Gone were any hopes of winning the congregation with our starched collars and super powered parenting skills.
Ironic it has been.
To be honest, I'm secretly holding out for my own reality show.