I am a soccer mom. A football mom. A basketball mom. A baseball mom. I am my kids’ biggest fan. I love watching them do what they love to do. I am so proud when I see them pour so much passion into their sport. I love watching them succeed. But guess what…when they struggle in a game, or when they don’t score, or when they mess up out there, I don’t love them any less. I still love them will all that I am. No question. No doubt. The more goals they score, or catches they make – that doesn’t make me love them more either. This may sound pretty simple – and really it is. It’s called love. Unconditional love. But as simple as it may seem on the surface, and as logical as it is to my brain, I sometimes forget that my heavenly father has the same kind of love for me (only on a much deeper level that is more than my brain can comprehend). So if I know how I love my children regardless of how they “perform,” and I know that God loves me as a child of His, why is it so hard for me to accept and embrace the fact that God loves me regardless of how I “perform”? I don’t have to try and please God just to make him love me more. He loves me infinitely regardless of my actions. He already proved that love when He sent His son to die for me. I WANT to please God and live a holy, sanctified life – but let’s keep it real…I’m very human and I will fall, try again, and fall some more. And even in my failures, God doesn’t stop loving me. God doesn’t love me less. And when I try to please and “do” and try some more, God doesn’t love me anymore. He can’t love me anymore than he already does. My kids don’t have to earn my love by “doing” things. It’s free to them. It doesn’t change based on their actions. I don’t have to earn God’s love by doing…I just have to accept it. I can stop being so hard on myself and accept that I am a beloved daughter of God and that He loves me for exactly who I am. He is my biggest fan.
So today, while home with two of the kids on yet another snow day, my son said something that kind of stopped me in my tracks. We were goofing around in the kitchen, fixing a snack and he made some sort of 16 year old boy remark to his sister. While the remark wasn’t “awful” – it was not necessary and by my standards a bit rude. I “gently” corrected him – not by yelling or threatening punishment – but rather I reminded him to speak life-giving words. I asked him to make sure his words were appropriate and positive. My daughter smiled – no, she smirked at him and then gave me the angelic, batting her eyelashes grin. My son looked at me and told me that I’m no fun anymore. Hmpf. I’m no fun. I’ll be honest, I tend to ignore (bad mom) most things that come out of our teenagers mouths…as I believe that a lot of what they say is spoken for shock value…but this one I chose to take to heart – a little. And wow – we actually had a conversation about it. When I asked him to explain what he meant by fun and by anymore. He went on to explain that “before” I used to joke around more and that I wasn’t always on them about the things they said. Of course I had to ask him to define “before.” His reply – “before you started loving God so much.” Hmmm…I’m a big believer in no making absolute statements (ask Brian about this). I don’t thinks are “always or never.” So for my son to say I’m NO fun was a bit of an absolute. I kept drilling down on this statement (ask Brian about this too). “So, I’m no fun because I ask you to make your words life-giving? What else?” He replied that I used to let them watch other tv show and movies, and that I didn’t used to care really about their music. But mostly, its just that I just don’t like them to joke around with certain topics nor do I join in the conversations and that I’m just different. Different in the way I talk and in the was I act. I chewed on the comments for a bit before I let myself have any kind of reaction. It was actually the closest thing to a conversation I have had with one of our teenagers in a long time – so that was definitely a win. But even more than that – the bigger “win” was this…I’m glad that my kids see a change in me. If they didn’t see the transformation that has taken place in my life since I completely surrendered my life to Christ, then I would have to really question myself. It had never really struck me how MY change, MY salvation, MY redemption had affected those closest to me. While it was not especially pleasant to hear on of our children tell me that I’m really no fun (what does he know anyway?) it became a God moment for me at the same time. God promised that if we follow Him, if we walk in his light, that we will become a new creation. We should be transformed, and others should see that transformation. If the biggest change that my kids see in me comes from loving God so much – well I’ll take that any day! And I’ll pray that someday they will find the “fun” that I have found in living my life for God.
I do not make New Year’s resolutions. I am horrible at them. They are expectations that I rarely (never) meet – which just leaves me feeling bad (worse) about myself. It only took me about 35 years to figure this out. Since coming to the realization that resolutions are not my thing, Brian and I decided to resolve to “be better” by focusing our lives and efforts on a particular word for the entire year. That exercise proved to be very rewarding and actually kept us focused on a goal without leaving us feeling like failures after a few months (and by months I mean days). This year the word I chose is PERSPECTIVE. I wrote a blog this past summer about that word and when it came time to choose a word for the whole year – it really made sense to me. I recently heard a sermon by one of my new favorite pastors to listen to (Matt Chandler) in which the pastor basically called out those of us who compare ourselves to others. (Yes, I was one of the “us”). How many of us can justify our selfish actions, our hateful words, or our sinful behavior by comparing ourselves to someone who happens to be “worse” than us. Well of course I’m going to look like a champ if I compare myself to someone whose behavior is apparently “worse”. But that certainly doesn’t make me into the person God wants me to be – just because I’m not “as bad” as someone else. It can work the opposite way as well. We can compare ourselves to someone who seemingly has it all together and has a perfect wonderful life with perfect kids, no problems, beautiful home (do you see where I’m going with this)…and feel really bad about ourselves. It can wreak havoc on us. Our peace and contentment really come when we have a healthy perspective on things. And as believers, our peace and contentment comes from our savior. How does Jesus see us? What would his perspective be? If we begin to view life through His lens, how does it change our perspective on things? This word has come to mean so much to me as I meet people and learn about myself. There is no way to wallow in my problems when I am worshipping next to a recovering heroin addict. That’s perspective. I can’t possibly continue to worry about finances and budget when I have friends who are currently homeless. I believe that Jesus’ perspective on “sinners” in His time was revolutionary. He didn’t see the woman at the well the way the Pharisees would have seen her. He saw her through the perspective of love…not condemnation. As I embark on another year as a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, a mom, a teacher, and a woman, I know that IF I am able to keep things in perspective – not MY way, but God’s way – I know that I will be blessed and that God will open my eyes to see some beautiful things in 2014.