I Have Feelings, Momma

“I Have Feelings, Momma…”

I honestly forget who I am sometimes. I think I’m a writer. But writing’s ✍🏽 something I can do. I think of myself as “Mom,” especially because my people call me that – “Mom,” “Momma,” “Mommy,” like it’s my name; but that’s a role I play.

My true identity as a child of God is tied up His purpose in sending Jesus Christ to sacrifice Himself as the Holy Lamb of God, thereby healing me of the consequences of sin 👉🏾death. My identity, an unmerited gift of God’s grace and evidence of His inexplicable love, means a lot of things.

Inside my identity as a saved person – one adopted or, baptized into grace through faith, lives this truth: My source is always, always, always God. LORD Jesus is my lifeline, the Friend I should phone…like when my son comes home and tells me that the kids in his classroom group are calling him “a freak” or that, “no one in my [entire] class spoke to me [for 2 days straight.]”

I had to explain to my son, whose heart was breaking afresh: “We will make it through. Because we’re going over to the other side with Jesus” (SEE, Mark 4:35-5:1.) 

I encouraged my son, saying: “All the mean things that people are doing and have done are not because of them, but because we have a spiritual enemy whose entire purpose in launching arrows by day and laying out snares by night is to convince you that you don’t belong, don’t have a place, and have no reason to hope for your future.” Take note: The Bible actually says, “terrors by night,” which matches my son better, unfortunately. However, I was right when I told him: “We have an enemy who’s trying to steal from, kill, and destroy us.”

I also told my son, “God is taking you I to open places. He’ll give you the ground wherever you step. Remember we’re planting ‘God seeds’ by speaking God’s word, so that ‘God things’ will come up?” I reminded him.

He said with tears in his big, beautiful eyes, “I said it, Momma. That’s what I kept saying.”

My first instinct had been to take pictures of my son’s state – his tears and expression, so I could have a foundation to stand on when I  spoke to someone about the going’s on…

But then I remembered who I am.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

(Chapter 6 of The Gospel of Matthew, NASB.) The light is understanding (knowledge of the Holy One.) Darkness is anything you don’t know from the Bible about God or anything else – in other words, ignorance; and when we are attacked by principalities in heavenly places, it is only in the sphere of what we don’t know about Jesus and God’s word (and so, therefore, have no discernment or response – in the fashion of Jesus confronting the devil in Matthew 4:4.) (SEE also, Ephesians 3:10, 6:12.)

God is my foundation (SEE, Matthew 7:24-27; I Corinthians 3:11.) And I started asking God the Holy Spirit to show my son the truth of who he is and where God is in his circumstances. I started praying friends and divine connections out of the heavenly dimension. I asked for wisdom for his dad and me.

I told him to understand that the desire of lies is to take hold of your mind and faith. Corruption and death live in every place where there is no light of understanding – knowledge of Jesus Christ and His true will and identity toward you, His power and love for you.

I said, “Lies come to you as young as possible, so that you can be in bondage and anxiety and depression and self-doubt for as long as possible.” 

I told him that I’d been hobbled early and only now (in my early 40’s) really beginning to see how much I’ve been trapped in deception and insecurity and fear. I asked him if he knew who he was listening to when he didn’t tell us the truth about what’s going on at school…or, when he believes the bad, sad thoughts that come. He knew they were lies.

“Listen to God,” I told him. “Keep planting God things with your words. Don’t agree with the lies or the feelings. God will start showing you his good plan sooner, if you listen to Him.”

Because, Friends, LORD Jesus has no plans to harm us, only plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. And no wisdom, no insight and no plan can succeed against the LORD (Proverbs 21:30.)

I told my son: “I’m hoping against hope, like Abraham when he believed what God said about him and Sarah having a baby into their hundreds and 90’s.” (SEE, Genesis 17:17.) His eyes got big.

“Do you know what hoping against hope means?” I asked, and he shook his head.

“Hoping against hope means you look and can’t see how it could change, but you trust God will do it anyway.” 

Another way of saying that is: Walk by faith, not by sight. And, Call things that be not as though they were.

“I tell them, but they don’t understand that I have feelings,” my son said, tearfully, on another occasion. I don’t ask, Why is there no empathy for a child’s feelings? No. My question is: Will you pray? For hard hearts to be softened, so that no child has to wonder why there is no one around to celebrate a victory (catching his first fish 🎣in my son’s case – a bass) or, to care when they cry 🙏🏾 

What do you Do?

What do you do when your child tells you that she used to think her skin was beautiful.., but now she sees all the ways it can be made fun of?

What do you do when changes kick you off your high horse of comfort? My comfort zone and I parted ways after the babies stopped being babies; my comfort zone lives back in the past – when the challenge of the day was potty training.

The teen and tween issues I only heard tell of back in the day sounded far off and exaggerated. But here we are – in Mom, Dad, Parent Hell. There are forces at work, seen and unseen – hormonal and spiritual. The battlefield of the mind is crowded with fighters whose weapons of warfare are words and actions dipped in the poison of cruelty. Fingers are pointing, and weeds are being planted.

I had a talk with my oldest today – one of those talks that makes you wish you could be them for a few days… She said that her “friend” and seat partner has a racist code: She talks about “black cows” and “chocolate milk,” and my daughter says it’s meant to get her attention. I froze in the headlights of this situation that did not match my short checklist of therapeutic replies. This scenario made me pray for a body swap situation, so I could get on the bus and settle or reorder things myself…

But that isn’t happening. And our job during the tough journey of motherhood is not to go in and be Fixer. 

Let’s be honest: I’m not able to go in and fix the interpersonal squabbles between my own 3 (soon to be 4) kids! I literally dread 2 pm  and the rumbling sound of the bus that starts to bring them home. Why? Because, Then begin the waves of demands, debates, and counseling. And those waves break against my weary soul till bath and bedtime 🤞🏾

I demand that homework come before play. We debate 1) whether editing an essay and retyping it on my laptop is, in fact, 💻 homework; 2) whether social studies vocab words must begin to be memorized in both directions (knowing the definition with the word as prompt and vice versa) on the first day they come home; and 3) why my girls need to bring their siblings with them to play at the park with boys – that is, whether the accompaniment of sibling chaperones nullifies the friendship 🤦🏽‍♀️ And I must counsel them. About standing up to the child who laughs at the clothes they wear. About choosing what we will believe about ourselves. About there being mean and insecure and ignorant people who may learn from my children, sometimes painfully, about what makes a person a human being.

Then I chauffeur the kids to their sports.

That’s work that tires me out and leaves me feeling like a rag whose goodness has been wrung out by all the things.

So what am I to do?

I pray. I try to still myself – in order to hear from God.

But the problem is, Just because God hears and answers my prayers doesn’t mean that everything is lickety-split going to feel resolved or look resolved. A friend of mine told me her daughter snapped at her for going to church all the time and for praying about problems: Why do you listen to worship music all the time? Praying doesn’t make everything better!

Well, let me tell you something: If we marinate in what is trying to drown us, we will suffocate. And, in the same way, if we consider and stay focused on what wants to lift us up, we will stay up when life is trying to knock us out.

We teach our babies to use a spoon, but helping to guide them toward life as productive and healthy human beings in Christ is a lot harder. It’s a long, messy bike ride through the mountains without an actual mountain bike. Well… That might not be the proper picture, but I know I often feel like I’m not equipped to do it. I feel that I lack the the strength. Like I’m not wise enough…

But if anyone of you lacks wisdom, let him ask from God who gives to everyone simply, and does not reproach, and it will be given to him. 

James 1:5 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English). This is what we do, Parents: We ask God. We trust Him. We look up to the truth that is buoyant and keeps us afloat. And we wait.

We also look into therapy! Even without our own therapist, we’ve benefited from therapy: I’ve learned a lot about how to talk to my kids and about good ways to get them talking from what friends share with me about what they’ve learned in therapy. In the same way, I learned different and healthier ways to think about my marriage from a relationship coach on television. I now know that there is much to be gained from allowing someone else to help adjust your own perspective.

Mostly, Hubby says, our job is to be stable. I agree.

Raising Kids: Bullying

Meanness or teasing on the basis of skin color is not worse than other types of teasing. The villainy of making fun of others is something that is out there. Everyone has experienced it, and most of us (including me, to my shame) have been on both sides of teasing. Motherhood means that I pray my children will be strengthened by brutal winds, shaped into arrows of light that go out into the dark world for the purposes of God. Being a mom means I don’t ever want my kids to be broken by pain in irredeemable ways or, for my children to play a part in breaking others.

Bullies are like wounded animals: They are looking desperately for vulnerable prey. A bully preys on a soft heart – an open heart. Sometimes hearts are open for healthy reasons – because they’ve been taught love and gentleness and acceptance. Sometimes hearts have been torn open by pain and negligence. In both cases, hearts are open to predatory cruelty.

People usually pick apart the things that we have no control over, no choice about. They roast us in an attempt to deflect their own insecurities as they project onto us. I think what’s most painful about bullying is: We’re all special, shining our own rays of creative and humorous and practical and generous light into the world. That light could be used to grow beautiful things.

Bullying attempts to put out that light. And parents have a role in halting this behavior.

Parents, do me a favor. Talk with your kids about being respectful. Not to bully kids about clothing, shoes, speech, weight, looks or in my child’s case, food allergies.

Having food allergies is not a choice. It’s our unfortunate reality. So when my child comes home in tears because children make fun of her “healthy food”, it makes me sad for humanity. I’m no looking for pitty [sic], just parent your children to be respectful…and not rotten. Do your job. Good thing my kid will have tough skin and yours will be the wuss with no backbone who feels the need to pick on people. Shame on you parents. Quit being your child’s friend. Once again, DO YOUR JOB.

This is a Facebook post by Christina Popolla Vlietstra, published on May 17, 2018 at 6:53 pm (CST). A lot of people agree.

I agree. Parents, we need to listen to ourselves talking. Moms, dads, guardians, we need to lead with good energy. The ugly things – interactions and experiences that tempt us to say the ugly stuff – have to be arrested and put away, set apart for God to deal with. And then we need to stand up for the light. By choosing not to say things in front of our kids… Things they’ll pick up on and wave like a banner in classrooms and on playgrounds and in every arena of life.

Our kids are loyal to us. And they will try to carry our family banner in their own ways. They will stubbornly stand in their family motto.

What is your family motto? What is the banner your children will wave? Is it respect? Does it allow others to exist without shame? Does it make other people wonder if something is wrong with their hair or diet or skin or clothes? Is your family motto causing your children to go out into the world and interact with other kids in ways that result in therapy bills for everyone having the misfortune to interact with them?

As parents, we can’t just sweep our kids’ words and actions under the rug. Yes, first and foremost we have to be their advocates and protectors. Part of that advocacy is making sure that we’re on guard about when things are going sour inside our little ones – when their mouths and hands are becoming a destructive force, rather than a force for good. Are we raising superheroes or, villains?