I just started a new book called The Gift of An Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison. It’s the story of how Kenison and her husband packed up the life they knew, a life they had carefully cultivated, to move from suburbia to rural America as their two sons were moving through adolescence in order to make the best for them and to come to terms with their changing lives. I’m only three chapters in, but already have had several moments of, “Oh, my gosh!! That’s so profound!” I was actually reading part of the book aloud to my husband on a recent trip into the city while he was held captive at the wheel. There was a passage in which Kenison was describing her older son that resonated with me in my dealings with my own oldest child. Granted, Kenison’s son was a teenager at the time and mine is four, so the circumstances aren’t quite the same, but the message is still applicable, I think. Kenison writes that:
“Rather than try to project who our older son might or might not one day turn out to be, we needed to try and appreciate and understand who he is right now. And then we needed to meet him there, loving and accepting him just as he was, supporting his journey of self-discovery, crooked and long though his path might turn out to be.” (pg. 26)
“Oh, my gosh!! That’s so profound!” Talk about being blown away! How often, as parents, do we try to project our own dreams and desires onto our children? We want things for them that we often wanted for ourselves. We see the road that they should take, forgetting that it is in the winding journey itself that they will learn so much about themselves and who they were created to be. My oldest son, at the age of four, already marches to the beat of his own drum. We lovingly refer to him as “the weird kid”. I understand, of course, that part of the weirdness is just the age, but part of it is who he is. And, I’m okay with that. He is who he is, and although middle school might be a bit rough, God has a plan and purpose for all that “weirdness”!
It struck me that, as Kenison calls us to meet our own children where they are, so God meets us exactly where we are, too. He lets us make our own journeys of self-discovery and faith. He allows us to try, to fail, and pulls us back up again. Moreover, God loves each of us and accepts us for who we are. This realization proposes a bit of a challenge for me. There’s a struggle in my spiritual life that I have been ignoring for years, and that struggle is coming to terms with the notion that God loves me for who I am, not who I think I should be.
Do you know what my prayer has been for myself every day for years? “God, please help me to be someone today you can be proud of. Please help me to deserve the love you have shown and let my life be worth the sacrifice you made.” You see, after spending my entire life, literally, in the church, I still fail to grasp the nature of God’s love for me. It is unfathomable to me that God can love me for who I am and not who I think I should be!! As a natural-born people pleaser, I think that I need to “please” God, completely ignoring the fact that when God created me he pronounced to the heavens, “(She) is good!” God loves me in all of my human-ness because HE MADE ME!! Every quirk I have is a gift from him, and although my mother literally birthed me into the world, it was God who breathed into me that breath of life. Instead of praying that I may “please” God, a better prayer would be that my day would bring God glory and praise.
My love for my boys is deep and wide. There is nothing I can conceive of them doing that would diminish that love, no “weirdness” a mother’s love can’t overcome. I can accept them for who God created them to be and encourage them along the paths they will take, even if the path is not one I would have chosen. The challenge is to let God do the same with me.
Blessings and Peace,