Insert "sorry we've not been in touch...life has been busy..." obligatory sentence here. We are finally coming up for air after what can only be described as a horrific 2011 year. I'll spare you the details, but in a nutshell, 2011 was physically and emotionally draining on all of us. We have aged, and gained life experiences no one would willingly accept. We are Christians, so we found ourselves spiritually challenged and tested as well, leading us to ask lots of "why God?" questions that you might expect. While the darkness of that time certainly became the focus of our thoughts and prayers, Little Philip's diagnosis came just weeks after our move to a new-to-us home, a new community, and our son starting school in that new community. Since then, I have pondered the timing of everything in 2011, prayerfully asking what God's will is for me as a mother, and for our family.
Anyone that knows me knows that I appear to have it all together. I am very good at keeping up appearances, and now recognize that I had started to pass that same trait unintentionally along to my family. If I ever needed help in the past, I considered it a weakness, something I needed to work through, my "cross to carry" so to speak. What much prayer, spiritual guidance, and time has taught me since 2011 is that such self-reliance is not God honoring and not at all what God's plan is for me. God encourages us to be in a community of faith, to be encouraging to one another in the good times and the bad, to be open and vulnerable with trusted sisters and brothers in Christ, struggling to come to terms with living in a fallen world. In 2011, when my life was being completely turned upside down in more ways than can be shared here, God made it absolutely impossible for me to remain an island unto myself. I looked awful, felt awful, and acted awful and there was no way to hide it this time. Friends and family forced me to be less self-reliant, to accept help, prayer, and support. What I came to recognize is that God's grace is freely given to me if I will accept it, and that He works all things together for good. If I was truly accepting of His grace, I would have recognized these friends and family members as examples of Him supporting me when I finally admitted that I was a mess. I am working on continuing to accept this grace but as a 37 year old woman who spent a lifetime building up self-reliant behaviors, this is going to take some time.
To be utterly reliant on God for peace and grace in my life means letting go of my controlling thoughts and anxiety for my family. I am working to develop the kind of relationship and communication with my children that encourages them to be broken with me. I want them to be open about their fears, sadness, and bad decisions or behaviors with me without fear of judgment or shame. There is nothing they can do to remove my love for them even if I disapprove of their decisions or actions now and in the future. Their sweet innocent hearts and minds at age 7 and 4 cannot comprehend the brokenness that they will undoubtedly experience in the world. I cannot protect them from it all. I want them to know that they do not have to have it all together all the time. And so, with the joys that life offers us and the sad times that come as well, I seek to be a real mom, a real person of faith, so that my children will draw their strength from Christ rather than from anything this world has to offer them.
With Philip and I working in higher education, we mark time in academic years rather than calendar years. We are embarking on the 2012-2013 year, ready to support our little ones as they start 4K and 1st grade. We also look forward to welcoming our respective new students to our respective campuses where we work. We begin this new year with a renewed perspective on faith and life that we are confident will bear spiritual fruit for both ourselves and those around us.