Parenting


ttronslien-Have you ever seen the play You Can’t Take it with You? There’s a romantic drama wrapped up in a conundrum and all of that, and the action takes place in a large New York City home with a wacky extended family, who are all doing their own thing while taking turns not listening to one another. It’s chaotic and fun, and I’m reminded that my kids have never seen it. (Kaufman and Hart, if you want to look up the play. Or, of course, you could see the 1938 film by Frank Capra. Same name. You’re welcome.)

This is often what life feels like. And here, whether it’s helping with school reports, trying to make a business move ahead, or making sure people are eating more than popcorn and chocolate, there’s never enough time. At least not enough time to sit, rest and breathe.

Deciding to get on this Meditation Train (if we can call it that) means determining to find a place and a time to repose. If you checked that link, you’ll see “to remain still or concealed” from the Latin for “to stop” or “to pause.” Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? “To remain still or concealed.” But in order for that to happen, we have to set aside distractions.

I heard a children’s pastor once telling kids that if a computer or television was distracting them from praying or reading Scripture, they could put a blanket over the item. I remember wondering how many adults would be bold enough to do such a silly thing. And yet, as I sit myself on the couch early each morning, I find myself wondering about email responses and Facebook messages… you get the picture. If I give in, I end up giving quality time to cat videos instead of communing with my Creator. We are truly distracted.

It is a simple thing to do, but sometimes not easy, to put aside the merely distracting, not to mention the truly important. The challenge is this: Will you and I both manage to put the laptop, the phone, the tablet, the tv away from us for a time to repose, to take in, to listen? The choice is ours.

“Help me, O God, to be a still axis in the wheel of activities that revolves around my life. Deliver me from my distractions, which are many, and lead me to a quiet place of devotion at Your feet.”

Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul

I’ve been reading a book on parenting teens. Fun stuff, the teenage wrangling. But really, this book is good. It’s Losing Control and Liking It, by Tim Sanford. One point has come home to me quite well: perfectionism kills relationship. My teen can be persuaded (occasionally) and influenced (sometimes), but in reality she can not be controlled. It’s a relational deal. Not just with teenagers, of course, but perfectionism between me and God. Extrapolating Sanford’s concept, if I think my heavenly Father expects perfection of me, the way I define it, there’s a stranglehold on our relationship because I can’t live up to that. There’s just no way for me to fill those big ethereal shoes. Yet, the Apostle Paul writes “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (Colossians 1: 28). He wants you and me to be perfect, but in his way, not ours. I’m reminded that the same guy told us that “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

When my husband and I were newlyweds, some prayer and prophecy people came to minister at our church. We were asked if we’d like for them to pray over us; we agreed. They were given our names ahead of time for prayer purposes, but otherwise knew nothing about us. Sitting onstage in front of our congregation, one of the things I remember most clearly was his kindly face as he smiled and said to me, “You deal with a certain degree of perfectionism, don’t you?” Cringe. Yep. Not in terms of order and organization (don’t open my closet!), but in terms of what I expect of others. There’s been progress, but it’s been a lifelong process, and will likely continue to the grave.

God’s “perfection” for us is so different than the perfection we often impose on ourselves.  Mr. Sanford suggests we say “could” rather than “should” to cut off that perfectionism in our expectations of others. Subtle, but I’m finding it to be true. Self-talk can be impacted, as well, if we’ll just allow ourselves that kind of space. We have choices, and sometimes we don’t make the best ones. BUT we have more opportunities, more options. I’m aware of the danger of allowing myself to procrastinate and always leave the best choices for later. But removing that self-imposed perfection gives me more breathing room. Our Father gives us a perfection to shoot for that sets us free instead of putting us into bondage. You could breathe a bit more, then.