Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 Promises for My Children

Dear Kids, 

I love you guys so freaking much.

Do you know that? Do you really understand how, even in the moment when it seems like I am coming unhinged and hollering about how you left your dirty underwear on the kitchen table, I still love you like crazy? I mean, it does get a little challenging  when I trip over your Beyblade stadium as I blunder into your room in the middle of the night because you woke me up to tell me that your socks came off. It's fine - no big deal. I'm pretty sure you were too sleepy to actually remember the swear word I muttered. 

But, can I be totally honest with you for just a second?

Sometimes when you bury your head in my shoulder, hug me as tight as your little arms are able, and declare "I love you, Mommy," I feel the tiniest little pang of guilt rise up in my heart. Not because I don't love you too - because my darling, I love you fiercely. No, that guilt springs up because of a far more terrifying truth.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

When I send you to Time-Out for punching your brother in the nuts for playing with your new Spiderman LEGOs, I spend the whole time you are crying and yelling and screaming at me behind the closed door praying and breathing, just hoping I will have even an inkling of a clue what to say to you when I come to your room. Half the time, I stand there and rest my forehead on the wood, wondering for just a moment if I'm even cut out for any of this. As my hand reaches for the door handle, I have no Bible verses on my tongue, no firm admonition of the long-term lesson you should be learning from punching your brother in the junk (other than to please NOT punch your brother in the junk), heck….I'm probably using every ounce of energy I have left in me to keep myself from either crying myself or allowing my anger to get the better of me.

When I crumple on the floor with you wrapped in my arms as you beat your fists on my back, I am simultaneously pounding my fists at heaven and demanding why on earth God entrusted me with the lives of tiny humans when I am a disaster and have no clue how to run my own life, let alone how to steward and shepherd and all those other things I am supposed to be doing with your little souls.

Instead, I am left to wipe your tears, hold you tight, and just do the best I can. Even though I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing.

We may be figuring this whole thing out as we go, but there are things you can count on. Things that are non-negotiable that I want you to be able to rely on as sure as the sun will rise in the morning.

1. As long as I draw breath on this earth, you will be loved unconditionally for who you are. 

I want you to know this promise as well as you know your own name. As you grow up there are going to be times when you will ask yourself the big "if" questions. The answer to "Will they still love me if _______" is always going to be YES. It doesn't matter what you fill in that blank with. Hard things are coming; I know that. Things that are much tougher to deal with than messy rooms and dirty underwear. It scares me to think about how we are going to navigate those hard times together, but above all else I want you to know that you will be loved through it. Nothing you could ever do in this world will cause me to love you and more or any less than I do right now.

2. We will do the best we know how to show you Jesus. 

We are imperfect, broken, messy people. We screw up all the time. Sometimes I get angry and yell, sometimes I lose my patience, sometimes I will say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, respond the wrong way. Someday, when you are older, I will tell you all about the disastrous choices I have made in my life that caused deep wounds in my soul and in my relationships. But God has this thing about using busted people to lead other busted people toward Him. I promise to do my very best to show you how to give and accept grace, how to love God and love others. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will pick up my slack when I mess it up.

3. I will never, EVER allow you to have a pet snake. 

I get that you think they're cool and I know you think it is hilarious to make me go into the reptile building at the zoo so you can watch me squirm uncomfortably as I imagine the glass disappearing as some unsuspecting child accidentally discovers they're a Parseltongue-speaking wizard and suddenly there's a ginormous boa constrictor slithering across the floor and your mother drops dead of fear and then you have to live with that guilt for the rest of your natural life. No snakes.

4. In this family, we do second chances. 

We've already established that I'm a hot mess and I can guarantee you that your dad is too, but I've got a news flash for you kiddo. You're a hot mess too. Your heart is bent and twisted and there will be times that it will lead you in the wrong direction. Your emotions will deceive you and you will find yourself in a very painful place. Part of me wishes I could protect you from this experience. You will want to run and hide, but my prayer is that you will remember all the times I have whispered "I love you" in the dark and you will know that you can come to us. We can't promise to fix it, but we can promise to love you through it and remind you that our God is the god of second chances (Thanks Veggie Tales).

5. Someday all of this will make more sense. 

Some of our decisions, rules, and expectations may seem ridiculous. When it seems like all your friends are doing whatever that thing is that kids are doing that seems absolutely essential to your survival and your stupid parents won't let you do it, so your life is OVER and you are convinced we are the worst parents ever….well, someday you will get it. In the moment, all your father and I can do is stand on the other side of the door, pray like crazy, and do the best we can. Because, as we've established, we have no idea what the heck we are doing. But neither did our parents or their parents before them. And someday, if it is God's will to bless you with kids of your own, you will find yourself sitting on the floor outside their room, praying like crazy because you have no idea what you're going to say when you walk in the door, and suddenly it will hit you that all that stuff your Dad and I went through with you - it all makes so much more sense now. But if, in that moment, you are trusting in the Lord to give you the words to speak to your child as you navigate through how to give them a second chance, show them Jesus, and love them unconditionally…..then baby, you've got it. 

But I beg of you, don't let my grandbabies get a pet snake until after I'm dead. I would hate for them to live with the trauma of thinking they killed their grandmother. 

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