Galatians 5:1-2 (NLT)
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you.
It’s another deep Friday here at the ol’ kitchen table. From a heart somewhat inarticulate to a God who can sift through to the core of it all. A God who likes to go deep.
I love to read. All kinds of books on all kinds of subjects. I really view reading as an investment of my time, though. So I’m choosy. I like to relax with a great work of fiction. And I also treasure the books God sends my way that help me discover, see and hear. The ones that pull out the deep stuff within. It hurts sometimes, you know? Going deep, I mean. But if we want to be free, if we want to heal, if we want to live fulfilled and fearlessly, we must become willing to face the root of our frustrations and grow a bit desperate for change. Or a lot desperate.
If you have been sharing my journey on this blog for any time, you have probably recognized (more readily than I have) one of my “issues.” Smile…I carry a burden of anxiety about my parenting. As my sweet friend Callie wrote in a text, a good parent does worry to some extent about the job they are doing. Amen. She is right. However, when the anxiety becomes a burden or more honestly a fear it is no longer productive. It’s damaging. Sigh…
Every now and then someone who loves me will say, I think you are being too hard on yourself. I hear the words but deep inside I am thinking I need to be hard on myself! I really, really need–desperately need–for them to not have my issues as adults. Thus the beginnings of a sticky situation when my needs are tied up in my children. They need me to not do that to them.
Enter a book I bumped into recently called “ScreamFree Parenting” by Hal Edward Runkel. The title is rather catchy so I read the free excerpt and was instantly drawn in. I googled the author and found a Christian background which encouraged me, so I purchased this book and must say I keep stopping, struck by how the words resonate so deeply inside my heart.
This book is not just about how to not yell or scream at your kids when you are overwhelmed or frustrated. It’s not just about those of us who “give up” on parenting and let our kids run wild. It’s not about techniques or “secrets.” So far in my reading, it’s not really about kids at all. It’s about parents and the anxiety that comes when we need our children to be and perform and meet expectations so we can keep our cool. It’s about the pressure we lay on the shoulders of our children to maintain the peace in our homes as our reactions are dependent upon their behavior. As this book suggests (and I know from my own life), when fear reigns in our parenting we will in the end create the very dynamics we are so desperate to avoid.
I want different for them. I want different for me! I don’t want to raise them within the weight of my anxiety…my need for them to perform and turn out well so I can rest assured I did a good job. So I can feel okay about me. Yeah, I know! There it is in all its’ splendor. It’s about me. And if I don’t know what to do with that, if I can’t find my way out, then whose job is it? Is it their job? Is it my daughters’ job to keep the peace by towing the line because I am unable or unwilling to learn how to be the adult and remain calm? Do I really expect my daughters to take ownership of my prodding, pressuring, anxiety and sometimes harsh and loud parenting moments? As if I can’t control myself and that is okay, but they should be able to control themselves and not provoke a reaction from me?
Going deep is heavy but it’s good because with all my heart I want to be free and why shouldn’t I be? Jesus died and yet He lives. Here is the part of the verse above that latched onto my heart so quickly this morning: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you.
For me this morning, all I can hear is this: Vanessa, if you are counting on your ability to parent well to make you feel adequate, to make things “right,” then what Christ did will be of no benefit to you.
As long as I am counting on “circumcision” (my ability), I am discounting and discarding what Christ has done (His ability). Everyone has issues. Yours are probably different from mine, but I’ll wager a bet that you also count on your ability to perform in some area to make things “right.” When we do that Christ becomes inconsequential in our struggle. The benefit of knowing Him is lost. We ride high on pride and credit for good outcomes and shrink low under the burden of shame when outcomes are not so good. A roller coaster of a life.
I’m thankful He speaks to my heart and finds ways to reveal me to me. And I’m thankful He never stops there. That would be depressing! He helps me to see what I need to see of myself but then, oh then He gently lifts my chin to meet His gaze. Sweetest answer. Best medicine. Cure-all for every broken attempt at repair. All I can’t seem to do and change and be and yet He is everything I need. Perhaps, for a little while, I’ll just sit still and let Him love me.
This simple chorus floods my kitchen and I’m reminded of my childhood. Words I couldn’t comprehend as a little girl now wash over my heart. The realities of what grace really means…what it looks like. Grace is what I see when Jesus looks at me.
Oh, Lord, You’re beautiful
Your face is all I see
And when Your eyes
Are on this child
Your grace abounds to me