Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Illusion of (Parenting) Control & The Gift of Mercy: Reviewing My 2017 Verse of the Year

I am a planner. An organizer. And, we folk, generally like to feel in control. People like us because we will reliably meet goals and things will get done. We like math because A + B usually equals C. We like a syllabus because it methodically organizes time with complete awareness for what to expect. We may even organize our closet with a specified system on matching hangers to more quickly find the desired apparel…I don’t know. It’s just a guess J

If 2016 was an exercise in responding to matters no one could control, 2017 held lessons in responding to the impact others had on us when it seemingly defied logical expectation.

I chose Micah 6:8 as my Bible verse of the year. It was honestly to provide myself guiding approach to the predictability of lived life being unpredictable.  

Near the end of 2016 we’d let Hannah share her story of an asthma attack experienced in smoky air before city government and the vote at hand didn’t result as we hoped. My fear that she’d experience adults make decisions that didn’t match with lessons and values adults teach her became reality. It hurt her/us and left me at God’s feet asking how I was to respond. My gut reaction was to clamp up and be done. But, as I drove past the cemetery one morning where my father-in-law’s (who battled lung cancer) headstone was recently laid, Matt Maher’s lyric, “Let there be peace. Let it start in me” flooded my ears and settled in my heart, providing a healthier response – to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

I (and my husband) wanted Hannah as well as our other children to know that speaking the truth in love, engaging in hard conversations so that we can all grow and be our best, and treating everyone with kindness and respect + a soft heart mattered to walk difficult situations – when people make choices we can’t understand- well. It’s a bridge to understanding, potential future change, integrity and peace. And, I’m most proud of how Hannah handled it.

The impetus for this verse was revisited (and, after further discussion healthy steps to cleaner air policy were made happy dance), however life had way of calling this verse and lesson to light more than once. I went in telling God how I was going to do life and He must’ve smiled and said, “Oh, but honey, open your eyes. There is so much more.”

No matter how much I wish I could bubble wrap our children from painful experiences, the best I can hand them is a broken world and show them how they might shine a light through the cracks. It requires a dance of letting them go enough to stand strong on their own two feet without too much space that they feel disconnected.

Though the challenge is primarily commissioned to us as her parents, there was so much more for me to learn thorugh it.

The result of this merciful living - which is so. very. difficult- when A + B does not equal C or expectation is defied and mess is made, is beauty. BEAUTY.  I can’t believe my Type-A self is saying that but my God has proven it true. This year, because of hardship, I’ve seen new fortitude and dreams be born. In not being able to be in control I’ve witnessed a village of unexpected, incredible people cheer my girl on and make her stronger. We've come to appreciate some we didn't see before and made new friendships with people we never knew. And, I’ve felt love that builds up my family greater than if I were doing it alone.

These are gifts I never imagined. 

Touché, God, I went in with a plan but You established my steps…and the story You wrote was better than I imagined.

xx Melissa

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