Tindell Baldwin »

Dear Son,

As I looked back in the rearview mirror and saw your big blue eyes it hit me that you looked sad. It was a hard morning with multiple consequences and tears at every corner. The tension to do the right thing or go your own way feels heavy. Childhood can be hard with three little people in our house and us, the people in charge, who need God’s grace just as much as your tender heart. Three is hard, being the middle is hard, sandwiched between two touchy sisters (and the baby who likes to smack you for kicks and giggles) sometimes frustration mounts and you just can’t do what you know you ought to do.

So today as I looked back at your tear stained face and quivering lip I didn’t see a problem I needed to solve or a measure I needed to take. I saw you, in all your humanness, I saw your need for independence and struggle for control. I saw your already wounded heart who needs Jesus just as much this morning as his impatient mama.

I’m sorry I haven’t noticed it more, how hard and harsh the world can feel when you’re just trying to figure it out. I’m sorry I haven’t stopped to hug your little frame when you cry about your sisters ruining your blocks. I’m sorry I haven’t remembered how challenging it is to keep pent up energy…well… pent up, or stay in bed when you aren’t tired, or not to scream in frustration when no one understands.

I was in the middle and I also struggled with a rebel heart that knew the right thing but ached to go my own way, just to have something that was mine. Little one, I’m sorry I haven’t stopped when I should and made sure your heart was OK. I’m sorry I haven’t paused to remember that no discipline is pleasant even though necessary. I’m sorry I haven’t thought about how hard my own growing pains were when I asked you to do better.

So when I looked back today, I looked in silence for awhile and said, buddy, are you ok? Your little head nodded and your lip shook. “buddy you know I love you,” I said. Big blue-eyed tears pooling your cheeks, another nod. My own eyes starting to fill I heard God whisper, “pray for him, your son needs you to pray for him.” All sudden you weren’t just my son you were a person, with feelings, and needs, and a son of a God who loved you.

I did. I prayed right there as the red light switched to green. I whispered quietly as Claire sang at the top of her lungs and Colbie yelled cracker from the back seat. I prayed for you. I prayed for your heart that God would show me how to love you well. I told satan he couldn’t have you. I told the darkness that ensnares our hearts so easily that it wouldn’t win. I prayed God would allow me to raise a son who becomes a man who would bring glory to his father in heaven, a father who cared about him even in the throes of three.

I hope as time goes on you’ll remember the simple words I tell you every day If you can’t do the right thing ask God for help. Until then I’ll keep making sure I don’t just see you as just my son but as a little boy with your own heart, your own struggles, and your own humanity.

Love you

Mom.

  • Kelly denbow - Just what I needed today. Our William (6) is smashed between two sisters, one who seems to always make the right choice and the other who is a wild child. I feel like I’m failing him because I don’t know how to handle his responses to me and to his sisters. Pray more….. that’s how I do it! He is strong and gentle, angry and kind all wrapped up into one little boy trying to maneuver this world. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words!!!!ReplyCancel

Don’t you feel like if you could pick apart some of the people you love and take little qualities from each of them you could be the perfect spouse, mother, friend, coworker, etc. In our heads we say things like, If I had her drive I’d do more. If I had her humor we’d have a marriage that was more fun. If I could take things in stride more my kids would be better off and we pick apart all the things we hate about our self and jigsaw back together someone who could do and be all the things we need to be. We could be the version of ourselves that would be acceptable and possibly more lovable to all who know us. We could feel slightly more OK when we closed our eyes at night if only we _____.

For most of my life I have felt like a subpar girl. I was always taller than girls should be. I’ve never been quiet… like ever. I can’t keep opinions to myself or sit still when I need to. My personality tests reveal similar things every time, that I’m intense but I get things done. I love people… but almost too much. I value accomplishments and am driven… but to a fault. When I asked my husband once if I was “warm” his pause spoke volumes (it’s now a running family joke). When I wasn’t in the church none of this mattered. I pretty much embraced who I was and lived boldly without much care about what others thought.

Then post Jesus and reintroduction to church I felt like there was a Christian girl mold and I just didn’t fit it. I didn’t just want to sit and take notes I wanted to be driving the discussion but that was a role mostly given to men. I stared to wonder if God had made me just a little wrong. Part of me felt like I needed to just tone down all of me or there would be catastrophic consequences on my relationships. Fast forward to being a mom and the feeling intensified. How could I be a good mom when I was so overly “passionate” about life? Not only that but our firstborn and even our second have soft hearts. Our third has my DNA. She’s bold and she will fight me head to head… at fifteen months old.

I have been thinking a lot about the words used about me as a kid as I speak to my own kids. How they sank deep and filled in the pieces where I had gaps of understanding myself. I was always talked about as the bold, crazy, slightly brash, mischievous kid.  It wasn’t because it wasn’t true but I think we can challenge our kids to be better by not speaking words over them that don’t coincide with a redeemed heart. Like when Briggs hits Colbie (because she grabbed his favorite reindeer and threw it across the room) I tell him, you aren’t mean but what you did was mean. Making the distinction when we talk to the people that we love that their actions don’t convey the heart God gives them. I speak to my kids like God has already redeemed them, believing one day he will. These words speak to the heart they could have instead of shaming them to feel guilty. Pray to God for the guilt, man-made guilt doesn’t change hearts just behavior, conviction from a perfect God brings people to his perfect unhindered love.

Part of the reason I acted the way I did was because it was simply expected, the bar had been set. No one expected an A on my report card or for me to participate in the schools charity events. So I didn’t.  I wonder though, if I speak the life into my kids I hope they have, the life I know God can give them will they believe it? If I tell them that God can change their selfish hearts into caring ones will it push them to do so? Colbie, our third,  is a flat out mischievous willful little one but I’ve had to remind the big kids to call her curious not crazy. Curious speaks to a sense of adventure where as crazy speaks to actions of disobedience. The truth is she is a little bit crazy but there’s nothing wrong with that, I want my words to speak life into the girl God made her be not shame her into a corner about what she isn’t. There’s no mold. That’s the beautiful thing about God, his intense creativity that has come up with the most fascinating productions and to not live that out would be a disservice to the creator.

  • Katie Bulmer - “ I can’t keep opinions to myself or sit still when I need to.” Yes girl! I felt like you were describing me! I also had a hard time when I first became a Christian. My husband was a youth pastor at the time too!

    Your passion and drive have been used so beautifully!ReplyCancel

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

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