Some years ago I sat in a church and heard a pastor teach on parenting. He told a story about visiting a family with a young boy and how after talking with the parents in the living room, they entered the kitchen to find that all of the lower level cabinet doors had been removed. The parents didn’t seem ruffled at all by the sight of their preschooler holding a screwdriver or by their unhinged kitchen. But noting the pastor’s surprise at it all, the dad said, “oh, its okay. Little Billie does this all the time,” and then proudly, “He can put them back on too!”
So impacted by the mental picture I was left with, that I can still give you the gist of the message. The pastor said we should encourage the ways that God has bent our children. I thought that was pretty good and tucked it away in my mind.
Good thing too, right? I have told enough Cohen stories for y’all to understand how the Lord was probably helping me to right thinking many years in advance *grin*
Still, I think I will give you one more example…
Last Sunday a group of girls who have come out of trafficking came with the founder of Rahab’s Hideaway to our church. They came for the service and then several wonderful women from the church made this huge, gorgeous meal for Pastor’s family and Cohen and I and the girls so we could all visit.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, let me now… our morning worship can easily extend to 1p, sometimes later. I always tell newbies to bring a snack in their person just in case. We try to go by the Spirit more, the clock less…so yea, sometimes church isn’t short (and frankly, I love it- but that’s a side note)
At any rate, with church typically going long, the ladies making the huge, gorgeous dinner were not quite ready for us to eat when we came to be served a few minutes after 12 noon.
We all started pitching in. I made the lemonade. Dayna ran to get some more chicken. Someone served up the salad. At one amid the hub bub taking place in the kitchen, I heard my son’s voice. I stuck my head out the kitchen door to find him very much being himself.
He was standing on the table top, making faces at the girls and telling jokes and giggling that infectious giggle he has. And then I saw it… he went from girl to girl, kissing their cheeks and calling them ‘princess’. The natural mom in me wanted to tell him to sit down, quiet down, pipe down. But for just a moment I was able to see through the natural… my son was entertaining a group of girls who had known more pain and victimization than I can wrap my head around… my son was kissing them delightfully and calling them his nickname for those he thinks are beautiful. I looked at the girls… their eyes were dancing and they were laughing and smiling.
I went back into the kitchen, stirred 6 pitchers of lemonade and thanked God for the way He has bent my little Cohen Reid.
Isn’t it interesting that one of the struggles of adulthood is staying true to who you are? When we’re children, we just can’t help but be the most unrefined version of ourselves and then nearer to the end of our lives we can begin to return to ourselves, although hopefully somewhat more refined than when we were toddlers. I love this about older folks- they have made peace with themselves and do less editing and more saying what they really mean.
But in that bulk of our lives- the time between age 5 and age 65- we largely spend trying to “improve”. I can think of years when I tried to beat myself into having a body type that is unattainable. Sure, I can be fit and thin, but I am never going to have a stick figure frame. It is just not in my genes. I can remember trying to be more reserved and less out spoken. Sure, I could learn some temperance and self control and how to bridle my tongue more effectively, but its not in the cards for me to be quiet and timid. I wanted to be fashionable for a season; to have the right things and the right “lifestyle”. But you know what? Even when I had the money to do it, I loved nothing more than to come home and slip into some yoga pants and a tank top.
Mom says when I was little I would “try on” different personalities and that I’d ham it up. It was a funny game between she and I, but its a game that I can see at times I have carried into adulthood.
Could I be like that wife?
I have tried on a few of these more ideal personas, but I keep coming back to me…short and curvy, outspoken and opinionated, unfashionable me who drives a ’96 Honda Accord Wagon with almost 200k miles on it.
Sometimes it helps to think of God as looking through the kitchen doorway and smiling at me just being me; loving the way He knit me together.
I mean, who wants to wait till their 65 to make peace with who they are?!?
Yesterday I started reading a book and nearly read the whole thing. It is a book on single parenting and if I didn’t see myself on every page, then I don’t know what to tell you. Seemed like writer and I have been living our lives in parallel without knowing it. Either that or she’s just that good of a writer.
I laid in bed last night, thinking about how the Lord has made me and even what I have known now for years that He has called me to. I was thinking about that bent and how I go back and forth between fighting it and ignoring it altogether.
In elementary school we wrote ourselves letters and then the school mailed them to us after we graduated from high school. I remember getting mine which said, among many other things (I was long winded even back then 🙂 ), that I wanted to be an author.
At 18, I smiled at my musings and tucked the letter away and went on to school to study Biology.
And then Psychology.
And then I planned to go to Graduate School to become a psychiatrist.
Or a counselor.
Or maybe I should go to Seminary?
so I could prepare to work at a church…
or would I rather be a professor?
Of course, I did none of the above. Instead I traveled with my sister, organizing travel and selling t-shirts. I loved our time together but when it ended and traveling with my then-husband quickly became a non-option, I was back to the same waffling.
And when my job ended late last year- yep, back to the waffling again.
Should I go back to school?
Maybe I should start a coffee shop.
Nah, maybe I should get my teaching license – that’s the most practical job for a single mom.
Maybe I just want a job that pays the bills.
Would the wisest thing just to babysit and stay home?
Waffle, waffle, waffle.
This morning I felt the gentle chiding of my Father who simply asked me why I pretend like I don’t know who I am? Why I won’t just cooperate with the way He made me?
Hmmm…. in a word, fear.
Lame, eh? Yes, very lame. So this morning I am taking stock of the time I have been given in this season when the Lord doesn’t seem too concerned about getting me a job and is instead providing for Cohen and I in a million unexpected ways. Just perhaps He is giving me the time and space to lean into that bend and to start to cooperate with who I am and what He made me for… just perhaps.
So I opened a fresh, blank Word document and started typing and I am not going to close it until the Lord says so.
What about you? Are you encouraged to be who God made you? are you working in cooperation with the way the Lord shaped an fashioned you?