Yesterday, as we walked back to the house from the car, after church, my youngest was walking slowly. It was a slightly warmer day than normal, but the winds were high, and I was urging her to move faster as I shivered in just a light jacket. She seemed unmoved by the chill in the air. Instead, she was laughing into the wind, mouth open wide, as though she was trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue. But there was no snow; only wind.
She yelled over the winds, "Mommy! I'm catching the wind!" and then opened her mouth wider, giggling as the wind rushed over her face.
The irony of this moment, was that the second it happened it was done. This precious moment was gone, as fast as it came; just like the wind.
This may seem an odd, even depressing verse to choose for an uplifting Monday message. But I do have encouraging words to share. While this particular verse is in reference to not boasting about tomorrow, because we can't claim to know God's plans, I want to explore what happens when our mist vanishes.
As moms, or parents in general, we are often encouraged and advised to hang on to each moment, treasure every second, enjoy every minute. Young adults heading off to college for the first time are often equipped with the same advice. It is a lot of pressure in a life filled with moments that are not always treasure-able. Like the wind, our moments can't be caught. They can't be held, even the ones we wish to cling to forever. Moments are fleeting. Sure, we can preserve some with video and pictures to look back on. We can retell stories we never want to forget. But once that moment is gone, it is gone, replaced by new ones right behind it.
These days, almost everyone shares their moments on social media. You can't go out with friends or family without someone capturing the event. Many are even live-streaming their moments directly to their friends and family that couldn't be there. And don't get me wrong. I love that we can connect to our friends and family from afar! I even love that Facebook stores our memories up for us to look back on. But we have become so obsessed with these moments, that sometimes I wonder if we're forgetting to live them.
As I watched my daughter, catching the wind, I realized what a metaphor this was. No matter how many videos or pictures we shoot, we cannot keep moments. They keep moving. All we can do is be in them, catch them as they come, knowing another one is right behind it. We can allow ourselves to be wrapped up in those moments, as they circle, and careful about what we put into them.
Because like the wind, those moments have great power. They hold power over our memories; how we will be remembered, and how we will remember others. The wind has the power to give life or create destruction. Our moments can plant seeds of life and love, or cause great conflict and chaos.
One day, when you are done collecting all your moments, what you've been able to preserve in pictures and videos, and on social media, will be passed down to your loved ones. What will they see in these captured glimpses of you? Will they see your heart for Jesus? Your love for people? When the moments end, what traces of you will be found? Will we find seeds of love and life? Or destruction and chaos?
Life will always be full of imperfect moments. Even the wind kicks up dust as it disperses new life. What story will your wind leave behind?
I have spent at least half of my life in competition. At a very early age, I learned how to compete with myself. This taught me a great deal of self-discipline, and it helped me to improve my basketball skills daily. When I was older, this competition spilled over to other areas of my life. I competed in tennis, basketball, and I also competed academically.
Competition was a driving force in my life. I thrived on it, but not in an unhealthy way. I respected the competition. I loved competing against the best. Winning tough games was that much more satisfying, and losing tough games came with lessons which made us better. I have always believed that competition taught in a healthy way, is good for our children, and I believe they should learn how to work hard to win, and they should learn how to take a loss.
Sometimes a love for competition can make for a rough transition into adulthood, business, and life in general. People find themselves competing at work, as parents, friends, family; who is the best at all the things?
What becomes lost is the idea of a team. Competition is nothing without teamwork, and often we jump into adulthood competing in all the wrong areas. We've forgotten about building up our team.
This has created the idea that we can do everything by ourselves. We've stopped taking help from the village. We want good teachers, but they shouldn't be too involved. Don't tell me how to raise my child. We want good mommy friends, but don't discipline my kid. Don't tell me how to raise my child. We continue to create this island in our lives, and then complain about exclusion. We then complain when things get hard, and no one shows up. We have created a society of people afraid to step on toes, and offer help where it wasn't asked for.
.This verse isn't about all of us agreeing with everyone, all the time. It is about coming together. It is about harmony. Harmony cannot be done alone. We may not always do things in the same exact way, but we all play an important role.
This is a lesson I recently learned in the handmade community; community over competition. We all have a common goal. We are all trying to grow, and we can't do that by tearing each other down, or pushing others away. We can't do it all by ourselves.
It is easy to get caught up in competition. I have gotten caught up in this too! My heart has fallen a bit, in frustration, when I've seen another artist get to an idea that I had, before I did. This is futile! I have learned that it is better to team up, than to cause conflict. It is better to accept help, offer advice, and cultivate a community of friends, than to make enemies.
As early as Genesis, when God created Eve, He did so saying, "Man should not be alone." We weren't designed to do it ourselves. We were meant for teamwork. Reach out to your church. Reach out to your friends, your family, even your competition, and get off your island.
We are a society that watches a lot of television. I mean, A LOT. Some of the most popular shows on television garner more than 8 million weekly viewers. A newly popular show, This is Us on NBC, boasted 12.6 million viewers last September for their premiere. I seriously marked it in my calendar the previous May, so I wouldn't forget. The show is really that good.
While we're watching all this 'good' TV, I've noticed there is one main theme, one huge lesson, we still refuse to absorb, as a whole society. We applaud it on television, and turn around and ignore it in real life. That is in the area of love and forgiveness.
Let's take This is Us for an example. One of the most beautiful things about this show, is the family dynamic. Character development and relationship dynamics are at the core of what draws us in to most well made shows, and this show nails it. We are given a bird's eye view of truly flawed people, their lives riddled with mistakes and missteps, who continue to love each other.
In one season, we are made to see the complete goodness of an alcoholic father, a deadbeat dad, an overbearing mother, a food addict, an attention seeker, and a perfectionist.
Here is why this is so important.
People are not defined by their flaws.
The beauty and luxury of shows like this, is that we are afforded a glimpse into the lives of whoever might be the "villain" that week; a glimpse which we are not often afforded during conflicts in our real lives. And the writers write these characters so beautifully, flaws and all, that we can understand them, and relate to them, even through their mistakes. However, we watch this with the understanding that the other characters in this story line, do not have the same vantage point that we do. They do not see the story played out as we do, and yet, they love. They may fight. They may say hurtful things, but they also fight for the relationship. They choose to love and forgive, not even knowing all the things we, the viewers know.
Secular and Christian alike, we somehow have become a society that makes excuses for not loving people. And it's widely accepted. There are memes and quotes that float around social media, affirming our feelings of bitterness and resentment, telling us not to give to those who won't give in return, not to do for those who won't do for you.
Listen, the golden rule, used by Christians and non-Christians alike, does not say, "Treat others how they treat you." It is not about your expectations or your perceived slights. It is not about what they do for you. It says, "Treat others how you want to be treated."
Nailing down one verse for the cover of this blog was difficult, but I believe the above verse pretty much sums it up. That entire section of Luke 6 has a lot to say about loving difficult people.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. ~Luke 6:32-35
The point made here, is that we are all sinners; every single one of us. We all make mistakes, take wrong turns, or say or do things out of emotion which we later regret. Your friends and 'villains' can often be interchangeable with mix ups, miscommunication, and regrettable mistakes. We will all be let down by people, and we will all let others down. Wouldn't we want forgiveness? Mercy? Understanding? Isn't that how you would want o be treated during your most difficult moments?
We see these exact scenarios play out on TV all the time. We see forgiveness, love, grace, mercy, played out on a stage. Writers have the capacity to write great love stories with two complicated and flawed people, and make us love them too, even when they screw up. We cheer them on, fight for them from the other side of the screen, and then turn our backs on real life relationships.
In real life, we don't have the vantage point of an observer, watching a whole story play out in our relationships. No, in real life, we sit and stew in our emotions and speculate about the thoughts and emotions of others. But maybe, like those fictional characters we so love and admire, we could find it in our hearts to try to understand one another, relate to one another, and love one another through our difficult times.
While my daughter and I were running errands yesterday, I ran into a bit of frustration with a driver who didn't seem to know that they had the right of way. While I sat there, aggravated, I said something like, "Come on! Drive your car!" Chastity calmly questioned my anger, saying, "I think he was just waiting to see if you were going to go." I explained the rules of the road to her, about how he, turning right, had the right of way, above me, turning left and crossing traffic. Her response was thoughtful and simple, "Mommy, maybe he doesn't know that yet. Maybe he's just learning."
This, right here, is mercy, grace, and forgiveness in action. This is how we try to wrap our brains around the behavior of someone else, without the behind the scenes cameras to explain things to us. This, from my child, is exactly the message that we all need to hear.
Maybe (definitely) we are all just learning, how to behave, and that learning curve is different for everybody. Sometimes, we mess up, and wouldn't it be nice to have people treat us with kindness and understanding, rather than throw that mistake in our face, or try to punish us?
Yesterday my daughter wanted to refuse her nap; a nap which her refusal made her need for it that much more evident. She was so mad at me for taking her upstairs away from the fun. She was screaming and flailing, hurting herself trying to get away from me. At one point, she screamed such a loud, shrill, shriek, that I thought my ear was bleeding.
There was nothing I could say or do to get her to listen or calm down, so I walked away. I put her in her bed, throwing her tantrum, and left, closing the door behind me. Then I collapsed onto the edge of my own bed, by my doorway, only 10 feet away from her, and listened to her scream, sometimes calling for me.
I hate doing that. I feel like a failure as a parent when I walk away like that. So as I was lying there, I prayed.
I realized there have been plenty of times in my life when I felt as though God had walked away from me, silent. There have been times I was crying out to Him, with no answer. And the similarities struck me.
Charlotte wasn't calling out to me because she wanted me. She was calling out to me because she wanted to do what she wanted to do, and I wasn't allowing it. There have been times in my life where my cry to God, wasn't for God, but rather a plea to Him, to give me what I want. Left to my own devices, angry, and tantrum throwing, I often only had myself to blame for the pain I incurred.
What we want for ourselves, is not always what is best. God knows this, and as our Father, He often disciplines us, just as we might discipline our child. In this case, it was in silence, not giving in to the screaming desires of a child.
As we grow in our faith, my hope (as is with my children as they grow), is that we no longer behave as children. Faith of a child is a very different concept than the tantrum of immaturity. If my daughter had simply leaned in, quietly, in my presence, I would have held her, told her how much I loved her, and how good this nap would be for her health, but behaving the way she was behaving, she wouldn't have heard it.
My hope is that we acknowledge the love our Father has for us, and desire to be in His presence, even when He doesn't give us exactly what we want. I pray that we (I), will stop throwing tantrums when things don't go our (my) way. I pray that we know that His silence, His discipline, and His act of refusal to give in to our earthly desires, is love.
And oh, how He loves us!
When God is silent, are you throwing a fit? Or are you leaning in, listening more closely?
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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