Feb 282013
 

This lent–and probably this whole life–I am

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trying to become more like Seth.

To rest in my humanity, and in my limitations… To rest in the love and grace of God…

This kind of humility leads to great freedom. And it also involves suffering—the death of that idealized version of myself that can go faster, farther, better, and deeper.

I decided to give up alcohol for lent this year, which basically means forgoing my nightly 5 o’clock glass of wine.

So I guess I’m giving up my idealized version of myself with her exacting standards… as well as the glass of wine I feel like I need after keeping pace with her all day!

It’s been hard! I’m facing the raw realities of little ol’ me, and a fair amount of restlessness as a result.

I can see now that my ‘over-functioning self’ and my ‘evening glass of wine’

are two strategies I have routinely employed to avoid suffering.

“There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way and discipline of the cross. Go where

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you will, seek what you want, you will not find a higher way, a safer way than the way of the cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your desires and you will still have to bear some kind of suffering, willingly or unwillingly….There is no escaping the cross. Either you will experience physical hardship or tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself.”

~Thomas a Kempis

Lent is a time to face suffering…like Jesus, who “set his face toward Jerusalem,” toward the cross.

And we walk the road of lent with the resurrection in view. We can face the death of our false selves and the death of our coping mechanisms…even in our restlessness we can face the suffering that accompanies this journey because it does not define us.

Thomas Merton writes, “It is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.”

There is no escaping the cross. And our attempts to do so make matters worse.

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So lent is the time to look death and suffering in the eye (in whatever forms they come to us). It is not a time to bear our burdens bitterly, but to practice making light of them. It is a season for learning to face and make faces at suffering, because it’s got nothin’ on us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And

Apply happy have. Kiddo

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that is what we are. ~1 John 3:1

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Nov 152012
 

Maisy has adapted pretty well to the constant flow of loud, violent, dirty boys around here.

But when she’s ready for the magic of a Girl House, she gets on a flamboyant outfit, dons all her accessories, and heads up to Kim’s.

There, she is greeted by Kim’s daughters and a house overflowing with tutus, fairy dwellings, horse paraphernalia, and glitter.

Kim used to live in Las Vegas and has the wardrobe to prove it.

She always wants me to wear more eyeliner. She buys me big dangly earrings, and says every outfit needs some flair. She actually owns a pink boa. Fashionable yet frugal, she regularly sports a new, hip top from the second-hand clothing store. (Our town can’t handle the Vegas wardrobe.)

Kim is also one of the most spiritually deep and emotionally healthy people I know. She is constantly reading, learning, and growing herself and her relationships.

The other day I was hitting her up for parenting tips after an explosive interchange with Michael. She suggested listening him down to the root feeling underneath all the yelling and behavior.

This really got me thinking. And while I was running later, I sensed an invitation from God. How ‘bout practicing this kind of listening in all my interactions with the kids, and Aaron too?

There was something freeing about the idea of setting aside all other possible responses and simply listening. So I decided to experiment for a time. Instead of interrupting, questioning, offering my perspective or bringing my agenda, I would only reflect back what I was hearing—in particular, attempting to put my finger on the feelings underneath the words.

Sometimes we need to bring our perspective and directives, especially as parents. But I wanted to see what would happen if I practiced just reflective listening, no matter what.

What happened was that I failed miserably.

I recently read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, where she recounts her three-month journey alone along the Pacific Crest Trail. When she begins, she is loaded down with grief and the aftermath of multiple affairs, drug abuse, and divorce. Fittingly, she also hikes her first 100 miles with a backpack so heavy it won’t budge when she first attempts to lift it off the floor.

I find that I am bearing up under a heavy, burgeoning backpack as a mother. Not only does it sit on top of and obscure my own purple (see previous post), sometimes it leaves no room in me to encounter the purple inside my kids and husband.

With so much that needs to be offloaded, how could I possibly

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listen?

Though my friends would say I’m a pretty good listener, when I’m in the flow of family life with my ridiculously huge backpack on, often times there isn’t space in the moment to receive and absorb what is going on in the depths of the people I live with.

What has been your experience when attempting to really listen to the people in your family?

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