Tuesday, August 13

Today

When I was nineteen years old and a sophomore in college, I was an optimist, a glass half-full kind of gal.  I was struggling, for sure, but I was confident that the days would all balance out and that life would be fine.
But I was born to a runner, and not just an athletic runner, but run-from-life runner.  And that year, one Friday in February, my dad ran.  Life was hard, too hard he thought, and he left for work and never came back.  I remember every single detail of that weekend, and most of the days after that.  It changed everything for me.  I believed some things about myself I shouldn't have believed, and I carried some blame that I never should have carried, and mostly, I have survived.  I was deep in college ministry, thank goodness, and surrounded by people who loved me and reminded me daily of the truth.  They spent the night with me in my dorm room, held my hand when I needed to know someone was there, drove hundreds of miles to spend weekends with me, and just let me process it all.  When my dad finally reappeared in my life, I was living at the beach for a summer with a hundred other college students, and God once again provided the perfect space for me to deal with the hurt of it all.  I remember the letter, stuffed between the flap with my name on it, in that handwriting that I recognized instantly.  It was long, and it hurt me probably more than any other life experience up to that point--and I had a lot of life experiences that hurt.  Those two events--his leaving and his letter--are two things I still dream about at night and are still very real in my life.

I have thought about writing this in this space many times, and I have even typed it out, but I have never really found the reason to put it all out there.  This morning, I told my Maggie this story, in twelve-year-old terms.  I admitted that my nature is to run when life is hard; it is a selfish, sinful way to deal with this world.  It shows a complete lack of distrust in God and his perfect plan for our lives.  And today, if I could, I would take her and run so that life wouldn't have to be so hard.  But that is not what God wants from us.  He wants more than cowardly action.  So, here it is.  This is why I tend to run, why it is my first thought pattern, why I have a hard time believing that God's perfect love isn't just for everyone else, but for me, too.

Just yesterday, I counted three articles full of parenting dos and do nots in my facebook feed.  I stopped reading most of them a long time ago.  Because there is no perfect formula for parenting.  There are no words to say that will guarantee a certain result, and no list of things that will produce a righteous child.  They are all great things to ponder, mostly great ideas, but a list of rules and parenting mantras will not produce what only God can do.  If I have learned anything over the last few years, it is this:  This parenting gig has very little to do with me and a lot to do with God.  Sure, there are little aspects I can control, but they are just that--little things.  The big things?  The things that matter, that make a difference, that change a heart, that change a life?  Those things are completely out of my spectrum of control.  Those are the things we do not choose.  They are sometimes easy and mostly hard.  The best we can do as parents sometimes is to walk with our kiddos, struggle in front of them, teach them how to trust.  I see it having less and less to do with a perfect parenting plan and more and more to do with what I do with my heart in front of them.

And today, life is hard for Mags. So if you happen to read this today, I ask that you pray for my girl, for my family, for our hearts to trust and believe that God is good and that he is worthy of being praised, no matter the circumstance.  Because we know in our heads that he is, and we want to show our children that we believe it in our hearts.  I know my tendency is to run; I want hers to be to plant her feet firmly and face the giants in this world with a grace and confidence that can only come from God.  If this is the only good that results from today, then it is enough.  We don't run from hard; we stick it out.  And God will use it in big and mighty ways.

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