Actually, Friday is the last day of school for my high schoolers … high schoolers … *sigh* … when did that happen?! Next year will be a year of mixed emotions – I’ll have a kindergartner and a Senior! And a Sophomore!
MiMi finished K-4 with a sweet little program last Wednesday. They demonstrated what all they’d learned and sang some sweet, innocent songs about God loving them. At that age, they sing so whole-heartedly and without the pressures and disappointments of the world crushing them down. Happy, pure joy on their faces and in their hearts … Lucky kids! You just kind of want to protect them from real life forever!
And yet, you have to slowly let them go … and let them experience … and let them learn.
I have been contemplating the paths God has brought me down, paths God has brought some of my dearest friends down … and how it has made us, molded us – what we’ve learned and gone through.
Some Christian families are very “blessed” – for a sake of a better word – they come from a long line of church-going parents and grandparents who have always practices the fundamentals of the faith in their homes. They had a childhood of innocence, protection from the “world” and knew only life inside the church. Others of us have had a completely different path – divorce, hurt, abuse, addictions … but in the end, were they any LESS “blessed” because our background was muddled with the sins of parents and their own?
My natural inclination is to shelter my children fiercely from all the “bad” things and evil. I’d prefer to fill their minds with only wholesome entertainment and thoughts and words and people. Yet, in my own reality, I know I learned the most from my experiences during those less-than-ideal situations and the hurtful circumstances and the bad examples in my own extended family or among those we’ve encountered. Those were the things that made me pursue God deeper – sometimes out of my anger, sometimes out of a need to understand “why” and sometimes just because I needed to surrender.
I don’t know if I can even explain it … While I sometimes just wish my life had been a little easier or I didn’t know some of what I know (the bad!), I know God worked it together for good (Romans 8:28). Some of my past has made me a little cynical and non-trusting; my eyes are somewhat more open to reality. I know not every situation works out like a Hallmark movie. I know that expectations can be shattered, people let you down, and sometimes you just make a bad choice and face the consequences despite God’s grace and forgiveness.
Those are the things that make me what I am – a little more compassionate towards the down-and-outers, a little more tolerant of the views of those who didn’t grow up in a good church, and a lot more understanding of someone who doesn’t live exactly like I choose to. I don’t mean “tolerant” in accepting sinful behavior, but I can still be KIND … I can sympathize when someone struggles or even falls down.
It doesn’t make me any better than anyone else … believe me, I’ve had to deal with my own judgmental heart far too many times! I’ve got my own set of issues – anger and resentment and jealousy. And I’m not very good at pretending … what I feel very often shows on my face, whether I want it to or not – and my snippy comments often come out with a little more vigor than I’d like. I lack tolerance for a whole ‘nother group of people who I consider moochers and users and free-loaders – there my tolerance and understanding ends. I have my own definitions of “fair” and “deserving”.
But I’m seeing how truth in LOVE is so much different than just spouting truth. God’s Word is TRUTH … I believe. The ultimate Truth – Jesus – the Way, Truth, and Life. But He is also LOVE … and his only anger was always righteous. God’s only judgments came only after a chance at redemption was rejected. There are limits to mercy … but perhaps no limits to love?
I am praying for my children, especially my soon-to-be Senior, that their hearts will be full of love – of truth – and of mercy.
Micah 6:8 has been resonating with me a lot lately as I think about how quickly my time with my children is passing:
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
There is so much to be joyful and thankful and look forward to when you know Jesus … despite the ugliness of this world and the struggles of trying to keep up with an American Christianity … yet God gives each of us exactly what we need. He gives us the opportunity to learn, to teach, and to chose.
I want to see HIM clearly – understand Him more – and trust Him always! And I pray my children – no matter what circumstances they face – will do the same.