These writings are for the imperfect person searching for more of the Perfect God.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why a strong-willed child can save your life.

I Was the perfect parent before having children. 

Yep, had all the answers to the walmart toy isle temper tantrum embarrassment. The restaurant booth turned trampoline dilemma.  The perfectly timed airplane nothing short of demonic meltdown scene. And of course the infamous "my-next-door-neighbor's-tomato-bush is my urinal" situation (True story.)

I had all the answers. 

Until he was born. 

He, with one slight devious but cute as all get out, grin, reached out his curious spirit and popped my 'know all the answer' parent bubble.  Just like that and I went from having all the answers, to weeping before God while sitting Indian style in the middle of my once perfectly ordered kitchen--now leaking of spilled milk,  infested with Cheerio remnants and littered with toilet paper tightly wrapped around the kitchen island, asking God "Why did You choose me for such a task? I don't have even one answer for this child!" 

Oh, how my boy has humbled me.

How do you know if you have a strong willed child, you ask? If you're still in denial, I mean in questioning, after reading the above, than there's one more key into knowing whether you indeed have a strong willed child:

The Dobson book. 

You know the one. The one someone mentions to you after sharing how your child climbed out of his crib at 2:am and snuck into the bathroom to grab the hairspray and thought it'd be a great idea to spray his sisters guinea pig's fur flat. And while at it, locate a permanent marker and proceed to paint the guinea pig red, but not before deciding to draw beautiful art work on her newly painted yellow bedroom wall-- all for a mesmerizing surprise for his family when they wake up. Yep, that'll be a pretty good indication. 

But you've really made it into the strong-willed-child club when you have not one, but multiple "The Strong-Willed Child" books by Dr. James Dobson, sitting on your shelves. All of which are gifts from well meaning friends and family over the years.  Each one, however, being used as a keen reminder I do not have a clue on how to parent this one.  But just maybe, oh please let it be true, that Mr.Dobson might?

But as you already know, if you're a mama to a strong willed child-- yes THIS is the child that has the super natural ability to defy all reason and yank on the cords of your heart more than any other human being walking the face of this earth.  

Isn't it this same child who just made you collapse and weep onto your husbands shoulder as he walked in the back door from work, because you didn't think you could parent for one.. more... millisecond?

Yep, it's this child who explodes your heart with one simple smile. With one sweet cuddle. With one tender  "I wuv you mama with aw my hart" whisper.  Why? Because a strong willed child has a humongous heart. And that, ultimately, is what makes parenting a strong willed child that much more difficult--Caught between two worlds of inexplicable love and pure chaos.

Last summer, with 13 years under my belt of still not having the answer for my strong willed child, I sat at the end of our family's cottage dock and began to write out my fairly typical and well known plead before God to help me parent my strong-willed child. And while in the moment, as my eyes dropped tears one by one onto the paper of my prayer journal, I flipped to the next and final page of the journal to finish writing my prayer over my son.  What was waiting for me on the top of the very next page was something only God could have divinely orchestrated.

My son, when I first bought the journal three years prior, opened it up and wrote on top of the last page of my journal: "I love you mommy.  Shea Lee 2013" and in that moment, while I was pleading to the Lord for direction, help, and answers over parenting him, he brought me back to the basic truth-- My child's heart is good..... and so very big.  

And sometimes, having all the answers to this mommy thing isn't Gods intention at all.  No, he desires more for me to seek His face instead of my own reason.  To seek His heart, instead of my own opinions.  To seek His advise instead of others' counsel.  Yes, the Perfect Parent to my strong willed child, the One who wired him as he is- fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) is using my son as a means to keep me running, clinging, holding onto Him. Over and over, day after day, moment by moment.

You see, parenting a strong will child enables us parents to really see below the surface of our own heart.   Like a cup holding pure water and another holding dirty water, we don't know what's in the cup until it spills over. Unbeknownst to me, I still had some dirty water lurking around in the depths of my self-righteous heart. Had my son not been the one chosen by God to tap on the cup of my heart just enough for the water to spill over to see what was really in it, I would of missed how dirty my perfectionist and judgmental heart really was.

A strong willed child has the supernatural ability to draw out the impurities of a mama heart like no other. And what normally could remain in hiding, untapped, unknown, festering and growing in the darkness of the heart, is now brought to the surface, to the light and into the hands of the One who can purify the water within--cleaning out the mama heart so that the blessing, the gift, the joy of her strong-willed child isn't missed for even a moment in time.  

What I once thought could potentially kill me, soon became the very thing that saved me.

My dear strong-willed child, thank you for being you. The one sent to me to save me from the illusion of perfectionism - and catapult me into the reality of the Only One who is indeed the Perfect Parent.

Friday, January 6, 2017

I'm breaking up with you.

Dear Ifida,

Well, it's official.
I'm breaking up with you. 

You see, this year I'm resolved to leave you behind as I gently close my eyes to the old, and with one eyelash at a time, cautiously, yet eagerly, open to the new.

A new, drenched with new identity. Identity that speaks truth of who I am rather than who I am not.  An identity that reveals to whom I belong and not to whom I don't. An identity not originated because of my past, but because of my future. Not because of my failures but because of my Savior.

Frankly, an identity that makes you shutter.  

But what you've failed to understand, ifida, is that my God uses everything for His good. He takes all my past mistakes, the regrets, the strongholds, the heartbreaks, the thoughts, the wounds, the violations, the losses; and tramples them under His feet--throwing what's left of the toxic stomped-on remnants into the deepest reservoir of the oceans depths.  Never to be seen, worn, or identified as me again. (Micah 7:19.) He makes me new in spite of you, ifida.

But you continue the relentless whispers...
If-I'd-a  just not done that. 
If-I'd-a  just done that.
If-I'd-a  just not gone there.
If-I'd-a  just gone there.
If-I'd-a  just not been there.
If-I'd-a  just been there.
If-I'd-a  just not said that.
If-I'd-a  just said that.

Yup, it's you again ifida.

And even though your manipulative whispers are hand placed just so strategically, delicately and precisely in the corners of my mind, they no longer define me. Control me. Claim authority over me.  In fact, your slanderous words are simply a keen reminder just how big my God is.  

All your shame-filled, guilt-ridden, fear-based thoughts simply no longer hold power or value.  You can speak, sing, whisper all you want in my mind, in order to keep my eyes gazed upon yesterday.  But this time around, they're fixed on tomorrow.

You see, I now know the truth. The truth that the very areas you shamed me, through your weapon of regret, is the very thing God doesn't run from-- but runs to. 

My sins, my shortcomings, my faithlessness-- none of it scares Him.  In fact, He looks at it and gently responds, "Now it's time to get to work. Let's use these past, current and future yucks to become your purpose." 

There is no greater an empathizer than one who has 'been-there.'  Which is precisely why, Ifida, God sent Jesus to live here on this earth, to feel the heartaches we feel.  To experience the suffering we experience. To know the trials we endure. To bear the losses we bear-- and be able to speak directly into the eyes of our heart, while cupping our face into His healing hands and empathetically whisper--"I've been there. I know how that feels.  I know how that hurts. I know what that's like. I know... and I won't allow this loss, this heart break, this failure to break you. No, I'm going to use it to MAKE YOU!"

I'm aware of your battle strategy, Ifida. One that rigorously fights to keep my focus on what's behind so that I'll forget to look ahead.  Because, truthfully, what's ahead are the actual fragments of my past that God has restored, redeemed, renewed, and made into something quite beautiful. 

You see, Ifida, God takes my mess and makes it into my message. He takes my grievances and makes them into my joys. He takes my sadness and turns them into laughter.  He takes my sin and makes them into my calling.

Yup, there's just no room for you any longer Ifida. it's a new year with a new start. And God is waiting to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within me! (Ephesians 3:20) 

Farewell to you, if-i'd-a.