For Christmas this year, I gave Todd a new puppy. Kirby is an adorable black lab that has won over the hearts of everyone in our family. But, having a baby in the house means everything takes longer. So here I am finally getting my New Years post published.
Instead of listing a bunch of New Years resolutions, I like the trend toward adopting a word to define the year ahead. Words have power. Words give us energy. The word God placed on my heart this year is EMBRACE.
I have spent the past two weeks while I care for this new puppy pondering what this word might mean to me in 2018.
Does it mean to EMBRACE new and different ideas and places? Or EMBRACE that which serves me well in the space I occupy currently?
Does it mean to EMBRACE the story I’ve been telling myself? Or a new story?
Does it mean to EMBRACE that which is around me in the present? Or does it mean to seek out that which is new and different?
Does it mean to EMBRACE I can hard things? Or does it mean EMBRACING fear is always part of who I am?
Does it mean to EMBRACE the heartache that comes from choosing to love fully?
Does it mean to EMBRACE that my will and the will of God may not always be the same path?
I think the answer is yes.
As I am ponder all of these questions, a friend posts to Facebook a picture of the note her three year old dictates to his teacher. It his expression of feelings about going back to school after the long winter break at home. He clearly wanted stay home which came out by telling his mom he wanted to wear a certain shirt and he was angry she wouldn’t let him. It was adorable.
As I read her post, I glanced over at my 15 year old eating breakfast and I thought to myself how some things really don’t change. He still communicates feelings by trying to control what he can. He still drives me absolutely bat shit crazy doing little things that I have tried to change since he was three. We still fight these same fights, go back and forth on the same issues, which really are never about the things we are fighting about.
And the truth is, in just over two years, he will leave for college. And in those thirty-one months, we will fight over the clothes he wears and the time he spends on screens and all sorts of things that are always about who has control. Am I letting go? Does he have enough space?
In that time, I will also try to just embrace the HIM he is trying to become, the HIM he already is. Because in thirty-two months, there will be a hole in our house where I long just see him sit and try to drive me crazy once again.
The biggest job I have always had has been to learn to EMBRACE my children, for who they are growing into not who I think they should be. As any parent knows, it seems easy to say but much harder to live out day to day. All I want is for my child to be the best version of themselves, but we continue to battle who defines “best.”
If I am really honest, I need to admit I am a busy mom. Busy becomes my shield for hiding. So, there is no way in hell over the next 12 month period I am going to be able to change much in this world by embracing much more than a cup of coffee each morning unless a few things change in our schedule.
The hustle I do to control my world, my kids, and my circumstances has been the place I have had to do the most work in the past decade.
So, what if I gave also give myself some grace for this process?
What if this year began to change all my “I can’t” type language, which is based in fear, to the trust based language of “I can” or “let’s try?” Maybe then, I do will start to EMBRACE my best self.
All three of my children have transitions in the coming school year. Emotions peak with change.
In addition, all three of my three kids have been identified as highly gifted. “Gifted” is horrible term indentifying kids who fall into a category of different types of learners. For we all have gifts, don’t we? But receiving the label “gifted” doesn’t make anyone feel particularly full of gifts. Often it makes them feel set apart. So change often highlights the difference the extra label adds and brings extra feelings.
What breaks my heart the most is over how we treat people who are different from us. Maybe that comes from having children who are labeled different and watching them be unable to assimilate fully into the group. As a culture we divide ourselves. We rank. We decide who is better, what are better traits. When intelligence isn’t a trait that is appreciated, my kids end up bullied and left on the outside. Nobody wants to be left outside the pack.
Yet certain types of different are celebrated in adulthood. We want our children to be superstar athletes or artists on Broadway. Yet in middle school, it is best to blend in. Hide your talents and then shine to get into a great college and be an amazing adult. It is such a confusing message.
As adults we rank and divide ourselves. What is your job? Where do you live? Are you married? How many kids do you have? Where do you go to church? These answers determine your worth to me. Research shows for the first time in history, we are an America that self-selects our residence near those who most closely resemble ourselves in thought and ideology.
It breaks my heart to see our country’s inability to celebrate difference.
I want to EMBRACE those different than me, those ideas that challenge what I think to be true about class, rank, society and privilege. I want to EMBRACE different ideas about spirituality and get to know God more completely.
There is so much to embrace. So many paths this word can take me in 2018 from the still silent moments in the morning with my three to the national conversation about race and privilege.
Lord, just don’t let me run out of coffee!