God Loves What Drives You Nuts

God Loves

What Drives You Nuts

God loves the people that annoy me. Do you know that God loves the people who annoy you?

There was this lady I used to see – h e a r…talking…about fitness (in this and that class or, this or that diet or, specialty food she’d had delivered to support the diet…) As my oldest is too, too fond of saying, UGH! right?! 

Totally! Especially, because I wasn’t (and still am not) at my ideal weight and fitness level… 

So that was all part of it – that is, my perception of this woman. To me, she was not only my nemesis because she talked non-stop in the close quarters of a gymnasium for the hour that we had to wait for our girls to finish their lesson; it was WHAT she was talking about. It was how perfect she looked while she was doing it – a judgment I was making and using to bash myself with, all the while resenting her.

I admit: I went out of my way not to speak to her, a violation of The Code for Mommies with Children in Extracurricular Things. However, I remember that when we were forced by circumstances to interact, she was super nice. I still didn’t care for her.

Anyway, fast forward to Taekwondo 🥋. The woman who had annoyed me so deeply during the gymnastics experiment was there at Taekwondo, too. But no bells went off to remind me.

In the season of Taekwondo I got to know Fitness Talker as one of the bravest, most inspiring, and, kind of heart-wrenching characters I’ve had the pleasure to know.

She’s currently chauffeuring 3 girls to various activities, including gymnastics, dance lessons, and golf. She had one daughter in private Taekwondo lessons, hoping she would develop a comfort-level that would allow her to practice in a class with her belt level, eventually. But after a pretty traumatic belt testing experience and sitting through a few classes on the sidelines (mom and daughter), they quit together.

That belt testing day is where I learned how brave was the woman I’d tagged annoying. That day, the Taekwondo master and grand master went out of their way to give Fitness Talker’s shy daughter a chance to participate during the allotted testing time. And, in an attempt to make her more comfortable, they forced her parents to do e v e r y t h i n g she was supposed to do – from demonstrating form, to board-breaking.

Fitness Mom had to get on stage in front of a crowded dojang. She had to maintain her composure as instructors repeatedly tried to encourage and compel her daughter to test. She spoke with her daughter inside and outside of the dojang. And she withstood all the eyes (mine included) with amazing grace.

So it was sad to see a lady obviously throwing in the towel with her girls. And as she stood up from the sidelines and headed for the door, leaving a weeknight practice with her daughter in her Taekwondo uniform, I got up to encourage her.

IT WAS AT THAT VERY MOMENT that God reminded me that Brave Taekwondo Mom was Annoying Fitness Mom 🤯

“Did our girls used to have gymnastics lessons at the same time?” was the question I was able to approach her with, because of God the Holy Spirit’s timely reminder.

And she was so nice that I’d be ashamed – if I believed in shame.

God gave me the opportunity to be a part of encouraging someone I’d judged and forgotten. Because God loves the people who annoy you and me.

“You didn’t give up on her,” I got to encourage her, and she pounced on that wording, turning to her daughter to repeat the words God gave me.

“You’re planting a seed – many seeds,” I got to tell her. “And seeds take time. A harvest will come when you’re not expecting it.”

And she said, “I gotta pray that’s true!” I got to “Amen” that – “So be it.”

God encouraged her, and He taught me how He loves: Even when I don’t deserve to be rehabilitated from a judgmental meanie to an encouraging light in the life of another precious mom…He let me.

And God taught me: I am the people who annoy me – a human being, who could be judged during the snapshot of an experience with me. I am a person like any other, with annoying traits…and my brave side. 

God let me see that, because He wants me to know: He loves us all.

He is love (I John 4:8,16.)

Getting Old: The Unraveling Truth of Aging

As age unravels me, the secrets I only shared with God because He is omniscient (Isn’t that the word for “all-knowing?”) – like, for instance, That my youthful looks meant a lot more to me than I wanted them to – are bared. But, as I am stripped of my idol or, crutch, I find that my worship is deeper.

That’s the way it is with the loss: We lose things that we thought we lived and breathed and existed by or, for…and as we find ourselves falling; as Christians, we brace ourselves on the eternal. The truth… Real love without fear – God

I never thought I was pretty. The literal devil of it is: Just as I started to see and accept and relax in the existence of aesthetic strength…I began to wear out. Like a garment

I think these feelings are really about my fear of death. All kinds of death… Like the death of my femininity, which felt that like it was in-progress…right up until I found out I was expecting this girl.

It’s a real thing, just like death is a real enemy – a spiritually defeated foe.

I look around at people I like – my sisters in law (and to be), neighbors, friends…and I want my kids to have a chance to make it; I want them to have the opportunity to get to the stage of life where they are likable and caring and successful. Generally stable… The witching hour wake ups during which I’m wracked with crushing guilt and regret, make me admit: Being a parent is SO much more than having a baby. And the delivery issues (of which I’ve had some that were gruesome), the first year of no sleep, potty training… All that is child’s play compared to the theft of sleep that comes with the insidious doubt about your babies (children, teenagers, whatever you choose to call them) making it to the “good” season of General Stability or, 🙏🏾 Success-ville, near Mostly Satisfied Town.

Because at those times, I ask myself: Why did you do this? And I have to answer myself: Now that you’ve started, you have to finish.

As a child of God, as a person saved by faith in Jesus Christ (plus nothing else), I hear what’s wrong with that devilish and deceptive thought: I didn’t start this; God gave us children to foster through this part of life. And, what HE began, HE is faithful to finish.

I’m giving myself too much credit, which is actually a form of fear-induced blame that wants to drown me.

I am not in control. While I am, yes, a new creation who is obedient from the heart and, thus 100% compatible with God… I’m also 100% reliant upon God.

During this – the shortest and hardest part of eternal life in Christ – I am like a blade of grass. I do not hold all the stars and call them each by name; GOD is the one holding it up, pardon: The One…Who holds it together. Who always has and always will…

Fear of death in every form notwithstanding, I have to remind myself: In Christ, death is not the end. Faith in Jesus makes death part of eternal life – death of everything broken and flawed and temporary, with the real things… The spiritual things…alive and safe, always, hidden in God.

The Swamps of Impatience

If you’re a child of the 80’s or, if you’ve ever watched The NeverEnding Story, then you understand my title’s rhetorical nod. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in the swamps, not of sadness, but of impatience. And the worst part is, I can’t just hit a dismiss button. As I’ve alluded to before here on Jay Jones: Mom-A-Grams, there are no buttons. No hacks for parents, not really… Because actual parenting is laying a belief system down as a foundation for your children. And that doesn’t happen overnight, like figuring out a more efficient way of making lunches. It happens over years, and you only see your successes in years that haven’t happened yet. Then – in the future – we’ll also see the gaps. Knowing that, we pray as parents, so God’s peace through prayer will garrison and mount guard over our hearts…in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4 AMPC.) Knowing that there are some things we’ll forget to say and, things we’ll teach our kids that we never wanted them to think, we thank God in advance for showing Jesus Christ in our roles and in our situations. We thank God for manifesting the glory that Jesus Christ has given us and for glorifying the Father…by hearing our requests as parents and giving us what we ask.

But right now, I’m sifting through the quicksand of impatience, searching for my role as mom and leader in the storms of life, which sometimes present as whining.

I have to sift through it all, as much as I can – reaching into my true identity within the Son of God – for tolerance and grace and forbearance. If I don’t sift through it all, I can miss the diamond that I need in order to parent the children God has rewarded me with – confidence. I want my kids to confide in me. I want them to tell me if someone is hurting them. I want them to show me the ways that they think and process data, so I can help guide their thinking and know better ways to pray for them. In other words, I want my kids to feel like they can talk to me…knowing I’ll listen.

Impatience makes us unable to listen for the gems that allow us to be good moms, dads, and guardians. A chief tool of any leadership role is the ability to listen – with a hearing heart. Otherwise, we’ll be like the very devout folks whom Apostle Paul encountered who had no idea of the true identity of God (Acts 17:22-31.) We can worship, but we need to know who God is. Likewise, we can parent. But we need to know what’s happening in the the world in which our kids live and understand that world from their unique perspective.

Right now, I’m grappling with another thing familiar to Paul – doing everything he didn’t want to do (SEE, Romans 7:19.) I don’t want to yell, but I’m yelling. I want to be tolerant and gentle, but I see myself teasing and berating the kids for whining. I’ve threatened to use an app on my phone to record their antics, so I can play it all back and show them how whining is a rotten cherry on the top of any day. I’ve made the decision not to spank anymore; I walked away from that for a few reasons, and I can’t justify going back to spanking. Though the threat of spanking still gets their attention, my yelling has increased. That’s a totally unscientific observation and a correlation that doesn’t amount to causation; the yelling might be connected to my hormonal situation at 25 week’s in 🤷🏽‍♀️ to my 4th pregnancy.

Me – running my race (I Corinthians 9:24; II Timothy 4:7; Philippians 3:14.)

I don’t feel like this is the way to parent. I’m not proud of it. I don’t advocate it. But God is telling me not to allow my sense of failure to eat me alive either. And I’m not giving up. I’m relying. On Jesus Christ. On the glory He has given me. On His existence in me and my life IN HIM. Amen. This race is not over yet!