A few weeks ago I watched and read quietly while social media went hay-wire regarding a certain national chain store and its bathroom conundrum. As far as I can tell the frenzy has now passed, and everyone has moved on to the next thing and nearly forgotten about what it was we were all in an uproar about 2 weeks ago. Yet I’m guessing that many out there like me who are still pondering the right thing to do…now that the frenzy is over, what do we do in real life?
I’ll admit, I clicked on several of the articles that came through my news-feed that week. My concern was heightened and I very much wanted to know what others that are older and/or wiser were saying on the issue. Unfortunately, in true social media style, not much content proved helpful. I was either encouraged to boycott the store altogether, as if that store is the only store that’s ever going to adapt their bathroom policy, or I was informed that anyone struggling with this situation is a judgmental bigot and hater of people. That’s terribly unfair, unhelpful, and untrue. As a mom of four young children, two of them girls, I can’t say it’s a non-issue. It is an issue, and it’s one that is unprecedented by any other generation of parents. The store in question isn’t one that I particularly enjoy anyway, so it’s been a bit easy for me to sideline the question. But this particular struggle is going to continue, we are rightfully concerned, and we all need to consider how we will respond.
As a little girl I used to belt out with my Sunday School class, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay.” To my little girl self, joy simply meant happiness. I was happy. Life was pretty much blue skies and sunshine, as it should be for a child.
In more recent years, singing at the top of my lungs about overflowing joy has been more difficult. It takes more effort, even discipline, and sometimes joy feels too elusive. Even though I really am living my dream, some days it feels like struggles abound and joy is simply too difficult to muster up. In the wake of losing my Mom I battled depression as I moved through the grief process. There’ve been times, like most families, that we haven’t known if we can make ends meet financially. I’m an extrovert that is called to fulltime motherhood, and sometimes I simply ache with an overwhelming desire to converse and dialog with adults. Some days family life, sweet as it is, just feels hard. Conflict is no stranger to us. It seems like marriages are falling apart all around us, the evening news is scary and discouraging, and Christians are being persecuted in horrific torture around the globe. In my own circle of friends, there is divorce, infertility, loneliness, illness, and death.
Here’s the truth: I failed at loving well today. I was selfish with my time and energy. All day long, in anticipation of writing about love, I tried to get my feet under me enough to actually love well, but I fumbled right up until the last bedroom light was turned off.
If you've been with me for awhile you'll know that I'm just embarking on a journey through the fruit of the Spirit...the nine characteristics that the Holy Spirit produces in the Christian heart, when we live in cooperation with the Spirit. Today is fruit #1, and we start off with love. Based on today and every day thus far in my life, I am not a love expert. (Good thing we have a real love expert. His name is Jesus.)
What even is love around here, anyway? We have watered-down love so terribly. I wonder how many things I said I loved today. I say trite silly things like, “I love chocolate ice cream” and “I LOOOVVEEE coffee.” “I love this song.” “I love these jeans.” And then I have the audacity to use the same word for my husband: “I love you more than anything!” And when my girls head into the school building each morning: “Have a great day! I love you!” and even for Jesus when I end my prayers: “I love you Jesus, Amen.” (My three-year-old just now came into the kitchen, grabbed my diet Coke, took a sip, smiled hugely, and said, “Ahh. I love this stuff.” No joke. Right now.)
How is that all the same word? And how ridiculous is it that I use the same verb for coffee and Jesus? I’m ashamed. Now, part of the problem is simply English…we only have one word for Love. In Greek, it isn’t all the same word. But most of the problem is me and my small, tiny, pathetic understanding of what love really is.
So we just got home from church. It was pretty much pure chaos.
Paul's at the fire station, so it was a solo-parenting show from me during church today. You'd think I'd be good at it by now, but, I'm not. It's a circus, every time. Or maybe more like a jungle where the animals are un-contained.
Now...to be clear. I love church. I love hearing the Word of God preached in clarity and power. I love worshiping along with fellow believers. I love fellowship. I simply love church. And I love my kids more than life. (That's why I take them to church.) But I also struggle at discipline. (Actually, my discipline failures are my next "Confessions of a Mom" Blog...look for it in a few days!) Discipline and training my kids in obedience (specifically my boys) is one of my messes. And as hard as I try to get my act together, I bring this mess with me everywhere I go. Where I go, my struggle comes with me. Even to church. Or perhaps especially to church.