Tindell Baldwin »

Sunday is laundry day in our house, the hampers are all busting at the seams by the time I manage to drag it all down the stairs and start the vicious cycle of washing and drying that never seems to end. Last Sunday, Claire asked me if I could help her get goldfish mid treacherous journey down the stairs and I yelled my hands were full and to hold on.

Life with little seems to always be leaving your hands feeling full and if you forget everyone is all to eager to remind you. It’s what the dentist said to me when Briggs and Claire were getting cleanings and Colbie spent the entire time wandering and climbing on every surface (at one point diving off a sofa and the receptionist had to catch her… it was a glorious parenting moment). It’s what the kind older man said to me as I checked out at target for the 3rd time in one week and all my kids were melting down and begging for candy. It’s what anyone anywhere reminds me of when i’m in public with all of our kids that resembles a traveling circus of Ferrell cats.

 

 

Yes my hands are full. Yes, at the end of the day my brain feels fried and my body tired. To deny the beautiful mess this season is would be pointless. My hands are full so not much else is. When your hands are full even little things are hard to do. Claire’s simple request for goldfish was nothing more than poor timing. My hands were full so I couldn’t help. When they aren’t full I can.

I think one of the biggest struggles in the Christmas season is the pressure that flanks our calendar from every side. Come to this, be here, and make sure your kids fully understand one of the greatest miracles of all time. Oh you don’t know how? Here’s 70000000 options of how to teach them and you should probably do a minimum of three to lend to all of their different learning types.

I currently have a Jesse tree ornament box that is on day 10 but have zero ornaments hung, an email with curriculum I desperately want to teach to my kids that a friend wrote, and two Ann Voskamp advent books I think they will have to graduate from college to understand. Claire’s 5th birthday is tomorrow and preschool thinks holiday parties for my kids are what I live for (Its not just FYI). My hands are full. It’s all good and none of it’s that hard but when you’re hands are full the simplest request can take you down.

What change we could make if we’d embrace where we are and slow this train down. Especially this time of year. You know what makes teaching hard? Rushing out the door to 1 billion holiday activities. We are talking about teaching 3 and 4 year old that God came as a man to die for their sins because he loves them that much. There’s not a part of that sentence my four year old won’t have 5 follow up questions for. While our three year old will just put his favorite question on repeat, why can’t I see God?!

I think Satan’s best scheme yet will be nothing more than constant distraction and busyness, to keep us moving so we won’t sit too long with our questions or our wonder. So we won’t just think about how utterly beautiful it was that God wanted so much to be much to us that he sent Jesus to put his love on display.

Time is a beast I cant fight, I remember that every time I open my fridge and glance at the first picture I ever got holding Claire. She’s five tomorrow. That’s five Christmas’s with her and yet I remember the first time I held her in my arms. I remember the first Christmas morning with her. I remember thinking I’d never take another moment for granted because life was so precious to me that first Christmas but time marched on.

If we aren’t careful we will miss it. We will miss every teaching moment and every perfect messy memory because we wanted to do it all. We will put up trees and hang lights, wrap presents, go to parties, and then it will come and go and we won’t feel the true weight of this season. All we feel is relieved when its over. If your hands are full but your heart feels empty then don’t empty your hands, make room for what matters. It won’t be easy, not everyone will understand, but it will be worth it. Merry Christmas!

My insomnia is always the worst on nights where my brain has been on auto pilot all day. Shockingly, raising little people uses all of your energy but only about half of your brain power. The other half of mine sits idle until they are all in bed and my husband is peacefully snoozing. I’m supposed to start my “sleep hygiene” that my doctor has prescribed, which involves a lot of thinking about walking down beaches and none of writing blogs on my phone. I picture the beach and then somehow my computer is there and I’m hammering out words about life and God and I kiss my aimed at 7 hours of rest goodbye.

Last night I was thinking about how when I was much younger and a new believer there was one question that people asked me all the time, what are you passionate about? Which is Christian speak for what do you love that you think you’re good at? Even before I knew Jesus I knew my answer, it was easy… writing. I loved writing. It was my retreat from a world that didn’t seem to always understand me or a family that was so wonderful they kind of annoyed me. Then a little later down the road after God wrecked my life in the best way I knew working with high schoolers was a part of the ministry I wanted to have from my pain. Somewhere along the way though I had enough people tell me that if God gave me gifts and talents and things I cared about then he would use them… and we would all live happily ever after. So I kind of assigned him this unofficial promise. No more floods and I only have to do things that i’m good at and come naturally. Thanks God…sounds great!

A few years into writing I got my break, a book deal, and it seemed that God would hold up to his unofficial covenant with me. My passions and reality aligned and six months after my book hit the shelf I gave birth to another great passion I didn’t even know I had. My first born. My daughter. The journey I didn’t know I needed until I started walking it. For a split second I had it all, the writing career I wanted, the family I adored, and God was checking all my boxes. Then 18 months later I was holding our son in a similar delivery room and I knew this was going to harder. Things had to slow down a little. Then 18 months later I was pregnant with our third and I had a war within me. Give up the “passions” God had planted in me for a season and do this raising of babies well or forge a path I felt like God was not leading me down.

My dreams, passions, and accomplishments were like big red balloons I carried with me everywhere I went and when the world didn’t approve of the tiny people at my feet I could point up and say, “but look what I’m holding? I have this too! I still matter!” After our third was born though my hands weren’t just full, my house, heart, and mind were too. I had to let something go.

I chose to let go and trust God, say no, and be OK that all I was producing was babies and that meant my insomnia would ramp up hard at night when my brain could dream about the passions God planted in me and the things I still wanted to do. As our pastor says, “no for now not forever.” I think as Christians sometimes we like to put faith tag lines on life to help us cope. We have put passions and work as synonymous parts of the Christian life and then tell budding college students to hold out for the dream job that meets all your criteria. This is great but sometimes work is just work, life is hard, and reality isn’t as fulfilling as the fantasy grown up world you created in college. I have come to learn that just like Jesus sacrificed for the end goal he calls his followers to do much of the same. We don’t make sacrifices based on whether we will get something in the end we make sacrifices because we know that what we are giving up isn’t as important as what we are chasing. The common ask no matter where you are seems to be, lay down your life and have faith that you aren’t forgotten in those in between seasons where obedience doesn’t match desires.

I didn’t know I had a passion for motherhood until God gave me Claire and moments after her first breath she was in my arms and I just knew I’d never be the same. So I put one thing on hold to fully embrace the other. I didn’t know I would turn things down I wanted for something that seemed so insignificant to the world. I can’t help but think though that this journey has lead me closer to God that living my dreams ever did. Dreams only require a dreamer but sacrifice well that requires a Savior. I need the savior more than the dream.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[e] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

To my girls in a “me too” world,

I wish I could protect your innocence forever. I wish you could always dance around in tutus and wobble around the house in footed pajamas. I wish every kiss was as innocent as a peck in pre-k music class. More than that, I wish I could shelter you from the world and every ounce of pain. Since I can’t I will spend all my days pouring truth into your heart and hoping it sticks. I will teach you that beauty isn’t a debt you owe to anyone. I will tell you often that love and lust are not the same thing. I’m going to teach you that people should respect your “no’s” and if they don’t someone should listen and take action. I’m going to make sure you know without question you are loved, you are valued, and your beautiful not because of what you do or how you look in a bikini but because God breathed life into you. I pray I can teach you speak out when you see wrong instead of excusing it away. I will encourage you to listen to the ache in your heart when you cross lines and that my door will feel like the safest place you can run when you mess up. I pray our house can be a haven from the world when it fails you. I pray the love you feel from in our family will set a standard way above average. I promise to do my best to have the hard conversations, listen more than I speak, and never push aside your pain because there is someone hurting more.

You see I wasn’t sure if being considered pretty was a gift or it was a duty. I didn’t know that being subjected to inappropriate comments or unwanted attention was something I could stand up against. I believed that admiration was fuel in this cruel world no matter how degrading the attention was. I never stopped to ask if there was a better way. I ignored the ache in my heart asking for better. I didn’t know that God loved me before I chose him and that he believed I was worth more than basement regrets and bad decisions in back seats. Even when I was drowning my pain in alcohol and numbing my body with drugs, God had given me worth. It didn’t start when I cleaned up my life it started at the cross.

One of the main reasons I wanted to see the other side of healing is so that we could have these talks. So that I wouldn’t let shame crush me into silence. God conquered shame when he endured the cross. Never forget it and if you lose your way as the road gets longer I hope you know I love you without conditions or exceptions.

Love,

Mom

Image result for teen textingI remember the first time my dad uttered the words, I was a freshman raging about something that was “so not fair” and he told me, “I understand how you feel.” What a joke I thought, how could he understand the pressures I was facing at 15, or the complete and utter fear I felt about losing my spot in the social circle, or the constant moral dilemmas that made my once strong faith stagger. He couldn’t possibly understand.

Then I grew up a bit, graduated high school, and stopped seeing my parents as parents and more as people with feelings (imagine that). I realized they knew a lot more than I thought. The more I learned of their story and their lives I saw that the longing for love and acceptance might have looked different when my dad was 16 but it was the same beast, just wearing different clothes.

I am a parent now, a mom of two girls and one boy. I have been doing high school ministry in some capacity since graduating college and as I sit in small groups and help girls through their high school years I realize I will never be able to tell my daughters that I fully understand. Things have changed too much.

I am of the last generation to graduate high school without the internet in my back pocket. I had one of those great Nokia phones that had snake and they didn’t add the camera into it until I was 18 and even then you couldn’t send pictures (praise the sweet lord above). I paid for my first cell phone at 15 and before that begged my parents unsuccessfully for a pager. It was different times.  I was not exposed to pornography except through hear say from guy friends. My real internet life didn’t start until college because Facebook required a college email to join. Social media didn’t truly take off until I was graduated college and by then I was married and didn’t care as much about how cool I was.

We can’t truly understand what kids are facing because we never had to navigate the burden of social media which is like adding a 100lb weight to the “normal” pressures of past. Not only that, the true discipline it takes actually put the phone down and engage in real life is something most adults haven’t mastered (myself included).

As an adult you have an idea of how popular you were in high school but imagine if you now had a number that really gave you concrete evidence to how accepted you were? Imagine having to see images of all the parties you weren’t actually invited to, the first love who moved on much too quickly, or your best friend claiming someone else is now her best friend to the whole cyber sphere. Now add on the raging hormones that are the hallmark to every high school experience and you have pain and angst we really just can’t grasp.

How can we fully understand something we have never experienced? Love and acceptance are the same desires but the beasts have changed, shifted, and molded, into something so huge most parents are left grasping at straws to help their child navigate a world they themselves have not fully mastered. Because lets be real, we all still want to be loved an accepted, and we may not be on snap chat but it still hurts when all the neighborhood moms go out for a glass of wine and you weren’t invited but you saw the picture. Age doesn’t change our desires. It still stings when some social function happens you weren’t included but you feel like you should have been, no matter how old you are.

So what can we do? First we need to stop telling kids we understand. We don’t. Tell them you are so sorry they are facing unimaginable pressures, pain, and expectations in this new terrain of high school. Tell them you are willing to listen, and then actually do. Don’t tell them it’s silly because it’s not to them, remember how badly you wanted your first crush to ask you out? Now chuckle because you most likely didn’t end up with him or her but it doesn’t change how real the desire was. Pray for understanding and wisdom and ask questions and explore the real world they are in. This is not the time to look away and hope it turns out OK.

If we are going to help we must learn to control the beast in our own lives. In other words put your phone down. If you’re doing something with your kids, don’t put all of it on social media. Don’t send the message that to be special it has to be public. This has changed faith in truly shocking way, times alone with God have become about how perfect the setting is, how beautiful your journal is, and what wisdom you gleaned in ten minutes. I think most Christians would agree that real growth with God happens in the times you were hidden, quiet, and struggling with just God, not God and your 1k followers. The real world doesn’t shine a spotlight on most people. Real life is somewhat mundane, waking up, working hard, and finding bits and pieces of glory in the average. We aren’t setting kids up for success if the only joy they can feel is from outward praise. We must prepare them for the ordinary by not having to make every moment special.

Have hours of the day that are phone free, and enforce it throughout the house. That means everyone has to put the phone down. My kids don’t have phones yet but my husband and I have had to create lots of parameters around our phones because even in our 30’s we can’t handle the allure of it all. We must discipline ourselves if we are going to teach the generation below us to be disciplined. We must come to grips with the reality of the distraction in our hands instead of pretending we are old enough for it not to control us. I’ve spent enough countless hours on bored panda scrolling through funny dog pictures to know I’m not immune.

Finally, take their phone at night. I know I have no right to say this because I don’t have high schoolers but see I’ve sat in small group rooms for the better part of ten years with girls from all over and the common denominator for bad phone decisions was time. Nothing productive happens after 11pm, besides the occasional long study session a phone and a teenager and midnight is dangerous. The temptation and options are limitless. Satan will pray on isolation and darkness. We all know people make most decisions they regret at night, it’s just how it goes. Bars and clubs are closed during the day, they just aren’t as appealing until the sun goes down. A cell phone in the hand of a lonely, heartbroken, or hurting teenager is like a grenade with the plug pulled, it’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when.

Trust me as someone who has been trusted by a lot of teenagers, they want the boundaries, they want the lines, they want to know you will fight them for what’s right. I’ve had girls actually tell me they wish their parents had more rules. I met with a girl last summer who had everything most kids want out of high school and she wanted out, she was tired of being a pawn in the party scene and she said to me, “I wish my parents gave me more rules so it was easier for me to not give into temptation.”

Their world is full of pain and people who want something from them. They are surrounded by tangible evidence of how liked they are by their peers and they are hurting for people to help them navigate it all. They don’t need us to understand they need us to love them and listen and provide them with truth when necessary.

I wonder if we got progress reports and grades if we would feel like we were doing a good job as parents?  If there was a board of moms and we got sat down every quarter and were judged based on how many times we lost our temper or how long we breastfed or the times we chose to clean the dishes instead of play with the kids would we rest easy? Would we feel validated in all that we do? If we had people look at us and our kids and received grades would it be enough? Would we still feel guilty every time they got sick because should we have kept them home when they complained last week? Would we still lay awake at night and replay all the harsh words and teachable moments we passed by in sheer exhaustion? Or would we awake with refreshed minds ready to tackle the day if someone was watching us and handing out grades?

I have yet to meet a mother that truly feels like she is doing a good job. In fact the word I have heard the most in conversations about being a mom is failure. I read recently that one of the greatest markers for a millennial parent is the amount of guilt we lay heavy on ourselves. It’s not even that we don’t think the task is important it’s that it’s almost too important. “Be on all the time” is the tiny voice in our head. The soundtrack on repeat says things like never yell, always take the time to teach, and come up with creative ways to cut up their food for them to reject even though it’s in the shape of a mermaid.

I don’t think a progress report is what we need, I think we need to let the stuff go that isn’t worth feeling guilty about and ask God to help us where we fall short. One of the greatest pieces of parenting advice my dad ever gave me was, don’t pick every battle but win the ones you do. I said amen all the way home as Briggs and Claire bickered over whether cats were soft or not. Fight away children I thought or in more PC terms “this is a great way for them to learn how to work it out” which is mother speak for I just can’t.

The sheer number of challenges and accessibility of information gives us a false picture of just how poorly we are doing. We can’t plead ignorance for anything, from hot dog ingredients to sleep training there is research for everything and almost everything has two sides too… except the hot dog ingredients no one argues for hot dogs. Spanking, sleep training, the perfect preschool, how we teach, how they learn, when to give in and when to give up consume our brains. Of course we all feel like we are failing because we aren’t perfect. We are people. We are mothers. We are imperfect, broken, in need of a perfect savior. When we try to be the perfect parent we deprive God of showing us our real need for him and my friends, we need him. Strive to do the best you can of course but welcome the truth that you don’t have to be perfect.

You might not feel this tension yet but it always manages to creep in, life will hit, you’ll have another baby, or one will have health issues, or so on and so forth and you’ll realize no matter how hard you work and try and strive it won’t be enough. You’ll lay in bed at night and promise to do better next time marking red lines and a big fat F all over your skills as a mom.

We are so worried about where are our kids are going in life, how they will do in all the trails that lay ahead but the reality is we have just as much of a journey ahead of us. We have much to learn about dependence on the only perfect father. Claire, my first born, is the child who challenges me, not because she is strong willed, just the opposite, she’s compassionate and kind and loves people. She challenges me because she is sensitive, she needs a soft tone and guiding hand, and I tend to act more like a drill sergeant on a power trip when I get stressed. Her big hazel eyes will look up and me and her lip will quiver when I raise my tone and I know I’ve blown it. She needs explanations and likes to stop and smell not only the roses but any plant or animal in a half a mile radius. I am in a hurry to get everything done.

I look at her and my weaknesses glare back at me. And God asks me, will you let me work on you or will you damage her spirit? Those are my options. My pride can fall and I can land on my knees begging God to teach me to be the mom I need to be or I can stomp on her heart and tell her to toughen up.  My weakness when it comes to my daughter is Gods invitation to be not only a better mom but a better everything. A better wife to Ben, a better friend, a better mom to my other kids.

I cannot be perfect. I cannot do it all. I can do the best I can and really ask God to grow me where he sees I need it. I can choose to pick the battles that matter and not worry about the ones that don’t. I can stick to triangles on their PBJ, an occasional hot dog, and letting Claire and Briggs “work it out on their own” for the little things. I can ask God every morning when I hear those tiny voices at the top of the stairs say “good morning mommy” for enough patience to get me through today and when I feel that red marker all over my mom report card and I will ask for forgiveness and grace and be glad tomorrow is a new day.

Ephesians 3:20

“now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think

James 1:5

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

“Mom, I can’t see God,” Claire yelled at me over the Jesus music as we drove to church.

We have this tradition on Sundays, the four of us meet Ben at church after he’s done serving in the middle school ministry (cause he’s a better person than me). I’m always playing worship music because its Sunday and I’ve gotten all three kids ready and out the door by myself and its harder to yell with Sons and Daughters playing in the background (not impossible but harder).

I turned the music down and asked her what she said.

“I can’t see God mom, where is he?” I went on to try to explain we saw him in everything because he is the creator, just like she can see part of me and daddy in herself because I grew her in my tummy. She then asked how she got into my tummy so I pretended the phone rang and spent five minutes talking to no one in hopes she’d forget. Really, I told her that was a question for another day and instead I told her about faith. How God asks us to have faith in him and faith is being confident in what we can’t see. She then proceeded to tell me that she’s never getting baptized because she would sink to the bottom. It was a really productive conversation.

It got me thinking though, how many times have I said those words out loud? I don’t see you God. I don’t see you moving or working in either my own pain, heart ache, or brokenness or that of the worlds. I wonder how often we forget about how much of the Christian life requires faith. How much of it require us to trust in what we cannot see?

In the giving of our lives to God and following him we are essentially saying we trust you with all the unseen’s and misunderstandings we feel in this life. We live our life a different way not because it makes him love us more but because we trust him. We handle people in a different way not because it will make him think more of us but because we think more of others.  We love those who hurt us, love us, and don’t even know us differently because he loved us first.

We are currently living in a very “I can’t see you God” time, watching hate consume hearts in ravaging waves, causing people to view people through the lens of opinions instead of love, and with information being fed to us 24/7, it seems like God has disappeared. We have all but given up on the notion of God being present in our world. Perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking God where he is, what if we asked how we could help? We don’t help others because it makes God love us more, we help because it helps us understand Gods love more. So in a time when God seems to have all but disappeared and in his place is hatred and mistrust we can be the story we want to see.

Let me tell you why this is so important because when my daughter asks why she can’t see God she doesn’t want a church answer, she wants something tangible, and so do we. We want tangible love to attach to a hurting world. “Broken world full of sin isn’t” enough of an answer for our discouraged hearts anymore. Is it true, yes, but is it enough to fuel our faith, no. If we claim to know and love Jesus then our proof to the hurting world that he exists should be your resume of love.

Maybe instead of begging God to show himself amidst the pain we see, let’s extend the love he has already shown us to the hurting world around us.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

Luke 6:35-36

Last week I was washing dishes (from another dinner deemed inedible by my older kids) with the music loud enough to muffle the cries of the two kids who fighting over a toy while Ben changed the baby’s diaper. Briggs had woken up on this birthday with croup, Colbie had an ear infection and was on 100000 of a runny nose and teeth that like to torture her, and Claire was mad that its 6 months until her birthday (enter 1 million rolling eye emojis). We were supposed to go out of town with friends and we had to cancel because of all the germs.  A grocery bag with a dirty diaper falls from the second story balcony as Ben breaks up the quarreling older two. Someone falls and starts crying. Colbie yells mama through the stair slats and I take a deep breath and head back to the war zone to wash hair and argue about why the sun is still out at bedtime.

Motherhood is simultaneously harder and better than I expected. I knew I’d love my kids but I didn’t know how much, I knew I’d get frustrated but I underestimated how often, I knew I’d be busy but I didn’t realize I could do 7 things at one time, I thought I had experienced exhaustion, fear and joy but I realize I had only scratched the surface of the meaning of the words. I thought all these things about becoming a mom and what it would look like but mostly I thought it would be easier.

Even when it is just ordinary it is hard work.  I had an older man tell me recently that being a stay at home mom was not nearly as hard as “real jobs” and Ben said he saw steam leave my ears like one of those cartoons. I’m sure there is some truth in that statement but I told him if he wants to come potty train my son who has no problem with diapers but thinks the toilet has monsters in it and I’ll head to his catered meetings (in my head this is what jobs consist of….lies I know)  I wouldn’t complain.

Stay at home or working aside, being a mom is tough and most days it takes everything in me not to just survive until 7pm. On family vacation my sister in law encouraged us moms not to just wish these days away and survive until your next break. I was functioning on about 4 hours of sleep when she said it so I didn’t give it much thought but I circled back around to it recently. I’ve been thinking about all these hard things we have to do in life, mother, marriage, work, teach, give, care, about how when we really inconvenience ourselves for others we actually live a better life.

I keep thinking about my amazing brother and sister in law who just spent 3 weeks in china adopting their third child and how there was nothing like that moment when they walked up the escalator holding their son. Nothing like the moment their girls met their brother for the first time. Nothing like watching my own babies be born after 9 long hard months of pregnancy. Nothing like working through the hard times of marriage to get back to the really good ones, nothing like forgiving someone just because it was the right thing to do and feeling utter freedom yourself. Nothing like feeling the urge of to be obedient to God when it seems ludicrous and watch him show up. Nothing like these hard, grin and bear it type of days, where you give your it your all and then some. The hard days are the ones that make you. None of us were made to sit on a beach and sip pina coladas… forever. Why? Because we have a greater purpose and a greater God who asks us to see him in the hard unbearable days.

The way I see it I have five years to teach my kids all the basics of life, faith, manners, kindness, compassion, giving, loving, what’s important, and self-control.  Sure I’ll have time after they turn five but these years are scared. They are simple, uncomplicated, and yet incredibly challenging. Most of life seems to operate that way. Work hard to get what really matters. Push through the pain for the payoff.

It kind of sucks sometimes though. Sometimes things are harder than expected. The diagnosis is worse than

predicted. The road ahead is even rockier than it appeared. In these moments I find myself asking why? I come up empty with the exception of these two thoughts, because we need him more and because this isn’t permanent. In the light of forever this life seems manageable but keeping our eyes on eternity is a tricky thing. We ache for a better outcome only to be met with reality and sometimes we have to just keep going.

I won’t wrap this one in a bow I’ll leave with this ,” We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a]Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[c] then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

We can’t give up. I believe there is more riding on it than we know.

Last week I learned a respected author and leader has chosen to separate from her husband after a brave and long battle for their marriage. Ben and I were on our way home from a marriage event and bickering about how to discipline our threenager when I read the news. My heart sank and I found it hard to find my breath, not because she is a friend but because sin is so painful and I ache for her, her family, and the journey she is on.

Isn’t it interesting how when you hear about someone else’s life is coming to a crashing halt you vow to be different? We promise up and down to see what we have and appreciate the glory in our midst. It seems we are so committed to change and discipline when we are staring down some else’s reality. When it costs us nothing but empty words we promise to be the exception.  We are so eager to know just how to be different instead of embracing where we are all the same.

Adultery isn’t new, sin isn’t new, and we’ve all felt sins shattering effects even if we’ve called it by a different name. Yet somehow when it comes across our peripheral vision we see it so much clearer. When it is someone else’s life we are ready to eradicate it. However when it’s our own lives we make exceptions, break a few rules, promise it will be the last time, and before we know it we are the story people are telling over beers and making vows to be different from. We must stop acting like sin is a poisonous spider we didn’t know existed. The spider is already around house sleeping under your roof, in your life, heart and mind. Don’t pretend you’re above it, crush it. See it for the dangerous beast that it is and don’t coddle it with the idea that it won’t bite you.

Life change doesn’t happen because you hear a story that saddens you, life change happens when you see yourself in the story. Change happens when it becomes your kids, your marriage, your finances, and your reality. Not just because you want to be different but because you know you could take the same bait. My marriage isn’t bullet proof, its awaiting fire, and part of protecting it is knowing that. Christian or non christian, marriage is hard, blood, sweat, and tears type of work. 

I remember when I was in elementary school after hearing my grandparents were divorcing because of my grandfathers affair sitting in the bath tub and thinking how real life seemed harder than I expected. I fight for my marriage not just because I don’t want to cheat or get divorced but because I know I could. We are all ten steps away from being exactly where we said we would never be and it’s foolish to believe any different. I’m not naïve enough to think I’m above sin, I just trust God enough to believe he gave me a way out. (1 John 1:9)  By humbly confessing that I need every ounce of his power to deny every selfish and sinful desire that comes my way. From the little to the big, sin isn’t a spider I’ll hold.

In reality we will all feel the collateral damage of sin no matter how much we protect our life. It will ricochet off someone else’s life and clip you at the knees. However, I believe it gives us the opportunity to limp into the nearest church with our wounds bared and help another in pain. Christian culture should be the easiest place to talk about our sin, our hurt, and our shame. Let’s make it our common ground, “welcome to the broken, messed up world, let’s talk about how sin has wrecked us and a God who can mend us.” Let’s change things but pouring light into the dark spaces of our life. Let’s shine a flashlight on the spider and see all we need is a really big shoe to get our life back.

Hebrews 3:13

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.

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