- God, the Author and Perfecter of Our Faith
When I went to Florida this summer, the one job my Grandma asked me to do was to clean out my room filled with hundreds of Beanie Babies, Boyd’s Bears, and a boatload of junk that I was happy to donate or throw out. In some of the boxes, were high school notes and childhood pictures that embodied this Girl that I felt was rapidly slipping through my own memory of her. While I was happy to throw away my Spice Girl poster, I had this crippling fear to throw away anything that pointed to this ‘old Me’ in hopes that my kids could one day know who I was or used to be. Or perhaps, if I’m honest enough with you and myself, that I could go back to her – because that Girl is known to me now fully in hindsight and because she is fully knowable, she is safe. And prioritizing self preservation is always the first step away from relationship when we feel threatened and removed. (See last post for more details).
Can I just pause and say: Isn’t that just so human? When I think of God, and the fact that He is often asking us to let go of something for what is always something better (even if it is just the freedom to forgive someone – which make no mistake is a powerful gift), this perpetual self-preserved battle baffles me. But emotionally, that tension (that I allow to often dominate my life and decision-making) between who I was, who I am, and who I could be if I just surrendered to God’s hand in my life is the most joy-robbing sin I’ve ever lived. And it is the first sin and it will probably be the last one too – believing that we know what is best for us more than God.
On the other hand, I started to see my Story in God’s Story this year. I saw the resilience and confidence that overshadowed a lot of pain in my childhood – and I said, “Lord, let me find that again. Let me live like that again”. Now, when I look back on all the bumps and humps the Lord has truly carried me through, whether I knew or served Him or not, I see the blessings, the ever-forming-me-into-who-I-am-today God who doesn’t quit, and the character building that could have never come had it not been through trying times and circumstances. I see it not through my pain, I see it through the calling that God has placed on my life and the plan He’s made for me.
For instance, as I’ve already mentioned, I kinda love sleep. As in, I am the first to fall asleep at a sleepover or I’d rather sleep than watch TV on any given night. So I often laugh to myself as to why I want a big family or am pursuing birth work because that’s kinda the opposite direction of this whole sleep-prioritizing trajectory. But when I talk to Mike openly, I have a fear of living a white, suburban, middle-class, ‘normal’ life and that’s because I didn’t have a normal childhood. I was raised on bar stools and job sites and my ‘home’ changed every 3-4 days. I literally would carry large bags of stuff from place to place and constant transition was mine and my brother’s normal. My parents divorced, and remarried, I had stepsisters and a stepbrother, and then I didn’t, and so on and so forth, as you may or may not imagine.
And when I look at that, on paper, I think they were utterly nuts. As a parent, I see that they wanted us evenly and they were truly loving us as best as they could with what they could in the circumstances surrounding those decisions and it makes much more sense to me. So at this crossroads of life – now forced to decide how we raise our own children – I think, “what childhood could have better prepared me for this exact moment in my life?”. Births and babies don’t come when you want them to, they can happen slowly or suddenly, they have emotional mountaintops and valleys, and the only guarantee is that they are going to change.
And I know I am the parent I am today because of the parents they were then – probably thinking they were failing too – and in reflecting on my own wins and losses, God is using my mistakes and victories as an ultimate victory for my children. God is not wasting my good or my bad, but using them for the benefit of my children (and those He’s placed in my life), and isn’t that just the loveliest thought for us Christ-professing parents (and individuals)? I lean on that promise constantly and I thank God for far-removed hindsight that gives perspective and re-definition to our pasts.