I have been writing a lot lately about the short-comings of the perfect Christian home school family that I set out to create. It's laughable to type that sentence (who did I think I was, anyway?) but there was a time I earnestly had that as my goal. Oh, I wouldn't have put the word perfect in the description. That would not have been humble. But it was lurking unspoken in my "vision statement".
Yes, I actually made a little hand-made card with a family photo that stated our reasons and goals for our Christian home school. It was not my idea, but I complied like a good little sheeple. It was lofty and verbose like those ridiculous corporate vision statements that businesses were coming up with in the nineties. And just like those completely irrelevant corporate vision statements, it didn't mean much when it came to day to day living. I was setting goals far above my ability to bring to pass. I was setting goals for God, my husband, and my children and not even thinking twice about the audacity of such a "vision".
Oh my. How the mighty have fallen. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Life is what happens when you're making other plans. Pick your own applicable pithy saying and insert here. =)
Yesterday I was all set to write about mangoes and hope and the way looking at beauty fills me with contentment. Graceland has its perks. But the Holy Spirit took my day in a different direction, and so that blog entry did not appear.
Instead, I wound up crying with my son and apologizing for the way he was neglected for so many years during my daughter's depression. Actually, I now see clearly there were two depressed people in the house: my husband and my daughter. I am sure that the two are connected, as middle school is an important time of opposite gender parent identification. So much for the perfect Christian family scenario.
But at that point I was totally befuddled, confused and alone. I was trying to live whole-heartedly for the Lord yet meeting almost continuous resistance. It was continuous, quiet resistance from my husband; continuous, contentious resistance from my daughter. I prayed and cried many hours on many days in anguish over this reality.
It worked like this: I would start out trying to live with my family in a loving, joyful Christian community. I would greet my daughter, maybe my husband, with a chirpy "Good morning! I love you."- arms open wide for a hug. I would encounter either silence, a hateful glare, or possibly even a sarcastic "What's so good about it?" :\ If I was feeling strong, I would ignore the first resistance and plow cheerfully on, hugging the stiff person and trying again with more enthusiasm later.
But eventually I would cave. I would start out calmly explaining why this resistance was frustrating me and why it was not right. I reasoned carefully, laying out all the reasons they should cooperate with me, patiently following every rabbit trail they laid out and carefully guiding the conversation back to the main point. Before long I would be desperately pleading for cooperation from my resistant daughter and husband. Eventually I screamed back in frustration, giving as good as I got in the hateful, cruel words department, sometimes even upping the ante. Crushed and defeated, I retreated back into my room to sob and pray some more. This was the scenario several days each week for years.
The other days were good days. Those were the days I would just ignore my daughter's resistance and hang out with my son. Those were the football days, the laser tag days, the hanging out at a friend's house days. Those were the field trip days and the read-good-books-aloud days. Thank God for those days. Those mother-son days were a blessing from God for both my son and my self.
But there were no father-son days. Dad was only home three days a week, and those were the days of contention and resistance. On those days, my son would quietly slink away and watch cartoons, play video and computer games, and eat. Food was his comfort. Gaming was his refuge. I am glad he found comfort and refuge somewhere.
Well, fast-forward to today. Everything is starting to make sense. My husband has been depressed for years, and was working out all his unresolved childhood conflicts with mommy on his clueless
Fundamentalist uber-earnest striving to be the most sincere, the most committed, the most worthy Christian is the sickness behind all of this pain. It crippled my husband with emotional pain. It is the sickness behind my daughter's pain. It isolated my son and made him invisible. In my own life it was the reason it took me so very long to say, "WTF! This is bogus!"
Lolz. Seriously, laugh out loud multiple times! None of that matters here in Graceland.
It doesn't matter why, when, where or how I woke up to the folly of my self-righteousness and misguided goals for my life and my family. It no longer matters how long I stumbled in the dark, confused and hurting. What's past is past and there is no going back.
All that matters is Jesus! Looking at his marvelous love for us, the greatness of his grace and his determination to bless me and my family, I can leave the guilt behind and laugh as I dance in the Spirit with my Savior.
That's Graceland for you. Yesterday I came fact-to-face with my failure and lack, so that today Jesus could comfort me with the truth that He is more than enough in every way. He makes up for my lack. He makes up for my husband's lack. He is above all things and tbefore all things and through all things and without Him nothing can exist that exists.
With one glimpse of the reality of His person, Jesus can heal my son's heart and fill him with enough joy and strength to last a lifetime.
Jesus took our sin upon Himself, that *we* (sucky parents that we turned out to be, in spite of my lofty vision!) might be made the righteousness of God *in Him*! My sins are more than forgiven, they are wiped out. They are removed from me as far as the east is from the west.
Jesus presents me holy and blameless in the Father's sight. Jesus grafts me in Himself! He is the vine, but he has given me the grace to be a branch on that vine. Not by works of righteousness that I have done, but according to His mercy he has saved me!
Here in Graceland, I can cease from my works. (At their very best they were only comparable to used menstrual pads- ewwwwww! Isaiah 64:6, look up the word for rags in the Hebrew!) They only get in the way.
In Graceland, Jesus is all that matters. The more I meditate on Christ, the more peace and joy I experience. The more peace and joy in my heart, the less bothered I am by the sins of this world: those sins against me, those just out there, even my own sin.
When Jesus is all I see, repentance comes easy for me and his mercy washes over me and I KNOW I AM LOVED! When Jesus is ever on my mind, it is easier to forgive others, because I know I am guilty of the same things. It is impossible to accuse, because I know that I am not the Holy Spirit. The more conscious I am of the greatness of Jesus, the more self-aware I am of my own smallness.
"He must increase, I must decrease." John 3:30Mrs. B. P. Emmanuel wrote that in my Bible at Red Rock Canyon summer camp when I was in fourth grade. I like it in the New International Version better:
"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30
How's that for a vision statement? And no, I don't mean that in the Churchianity way of I should talk about Jesus more, read about Jesus more and lecture about Jesus more. I don't mean it like John meant it, either, that Jesus would become more popular while my time on earth was coming to a close.
I mean it at the most personal level possible. Jesus, live through me. Jesus, love through me. Jesus, remind me that I am little and insufficient but you are more than enough. Jesus, show me your love today. I need your love today. *I* need you, Jesus. As much as I ever did, I need you today. Jesus, come and make up the lack. Jesus, you build your church. You do it, Jesus.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. I John 5:13-15 NIV
That is the work I am called to: to ask according to His will. Sounds pretty simple. He came to seek and and save that which is lost? Seek my son's heart, Lord. Save that lost and neglected child from rejection and loneliness.
Jesus went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil? He is the same yesterday, today and forever? Do good to my son Jesus and heal all that is hurt and oppressed in his heart.
Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly? Give abundant life to my son, Lord. Be it unto Him, according you Your will. Give to my son a glimpse of the reality of You, Jesus! You are sufficient to heal my son's heart and fill him with enough joy and strength to last a lifetime.
You do it, Jesus. I can do nothing, but You can do anything! I believe Lord; help my unbelief!
I really, really like it here. =)