Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Courage.

 

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I am so overwhelmed by the response to my Dear Parents With Children in Church post. Actually, overwhelmed doesn’t really even begin to capture it. Maybe I’m not supposed to tell you that. Maybe I’m supposed to pretend I expected the more than three hundred fifty thousand hits. Maybe I was supposed to be prepared for a launch into blogdom, whatever that is, maybe I just made it up, that’s how unprepared I am.

I’m not very good at “supposed-tos”, and I’m really not good at pretending. I’m a truth-teller. I finally got around to writing an about *that* mom page for all the new visitors. And oh my, there are so many new visitors. I really am so glad you’re here.

I can’t keep up with the comments and emails. I’m trying my best. I read every. single. one. I do. But I just can’t respond to them all. You guys have shared your hearts with me. Seriously. I am so grateful and humbled to hear your stories. They are sacred.

Meanwhile, I’ve been a little intimidated to write again. All these new eyes watching. Lots of disagreeing comments (and some not-so-nice) amid the overwhelming support. What if my writing isn’t enough? What if no one wants to read it? What if I insult all these amazing people who have shared beautiful things about children in church? Oh the What Ifs. Anyone else thinking of the Shel Silverstein poem?

A few months ago, a friend send me a desperate email, confessing her whatifs about a new challenge related to her own blog. In my all-knowing-blog-wisdom (yes, I am being sarcastic), I told her this. I only know because I went and found the email I wrote.

What if? One of my favorite things to do when I start to worry “what if” is to answer the question. What is honestly the worst possible thing that could happen if you disappoint people? Some might unlike your Facebook page. Some might not read the blog anymore. Some might even say something mean. Okay. It won't change who you are. It won't change the amazing things you've done with your family. It won't change the number of people you have helped and inspired. It won't change your value... as a person, a mother, a wife... or even the value of your blog. Now after all that, I don't think you will disappoint. And if you disappoint one or two, it won't change the ones you help.

It’s hard to hear our own advice, isn’t it? It’s hard to put myself in the positive side of things. But it’s true. If this blog crashes and dies, it won’t change the people I have reached. It won’t change the stories I’ve been honored to hear. It won’t change those I have encouraged. And it won’t change all the things I do every day - the way I mother, the way I live, or who I am in this world. I am filled with what ifs. I am a little scared. But I am grounded in love and grace, and I am gathering up my courage.

I talk a lot about love, grace, and courage. Someone commented on a post last week that they understand the love and grace thing, but what’s up with courage? Courage. It takes courage to live with love and grace. It takes courage to put ourselves out there and be truth-tellers. Some days, most days if I’m honest and I am, it takes courage to get up in the morning and do it all again.

I used to want to be fearless. That sounds so sexy. Fearless! Without fear. Above fear. Better than fear. But, I don’t think entirely leaving this fear stuff behind me is realistic. First of all, I have this little thing called anxiety. Yep, fearlessly anxious? Doesn’t work.

Living, parenting, loving, growing… it’s all scary. I find myself scared all. the. time. But as Glennon at Momastery points out, there’s not a lot that separates sacred and scared. Often it’s when I am really really scared that I am so very close to the sacred. When I’ve written words that scared me to death, I’ve been humbled by the most sacred connections. When I’ve been scared to put aside the world’s expectations for me and my family, I’ve found our beautiful sacred rhythm. If I strived for fearlessness, I would miss out on so much sacred.

Instead, I desire courage. I’ve heard it explained that courage is being afraid but doing things anyway. Courage embraces the fear, the scared, and the Hard, and Courage opens ourselves up to possibility, to growth, to the sacred. Courage is you sharing your story with me, and Courage is me sharing my story with you. Courage is stepping out in kindness and compassion, when it’d be easier to stand back while others hurt. Courage is seeing our weaknesses and our failures but still choosing to believe that we are okay, that we are enough. Courage is giving generously, of ourselves, our time, and our possessions, when it’s uncomfortable. Courage is going to bed with your body and heart aching, yes we all have those days, and knowing that you will wake up in the morning to give yourself, your family, and this world everything you’ve got.

It is with courage that I click post.

20 comments:

  1. Nicely written, I can relate! Keep writing! I have only had time to read two of your posts, but I very much enjoy them! Continue to inspire my dear!

    Julie V.
    @ www.inbetweenthesunsets.blogspot.com

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  2. I'm one of those you've touched... and deeply, quickly.
    I shared your "Dear Parents" everywhere I can. I've told people about my own childhood in a tiny church for three years where there was no kids church. I've talked about moving back to Richmond when my dad graduated Bible College and suddenly having a "Junior Church" that ran just like big church and was dismissed every 5th Sunday through the year so that we could worship with our families and learn about big church.
    I've decided that from here on out, on 5th Sundays, my kid is sitting in church with me. At least through communion... I'm not sure we'll make it through the sermon just yet. But she needs the exposure. She needs to be able to see worship and learn why it is important.
    Thank you.
    I read back to you post about your son knowing GRACE... and the next day I decided not to fuss at my daughter for something that frustrates me regularly - instead showing grace, even if she didn't know that was what I was doing - she's four.
    No, not everyone will agree with everything you write. Heck - I may not on some things.
    But keep writing, because you have good things to share.
    Thank you!

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  3. I've not run away yet. ;) I'm looking forward to your courageous adventures to come.

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  4. Can you imagine a conversation where everyone agrees with everything said? Everyone would sit there and just nod, but no one would put the thought provoking question out there. It. Would. Be. Boring... Excuse me while I take a cat nap.
    I love discussions where there is an exchange of ideas and people stretch each others' understanding and add to each others' knowledge. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
    Keep up the writing, occasionally putting in a good, thought-provoking topic that will build us up in Christ Jesus, not just tickle our eyes...

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  5. Yes! Absolutely! I don't want everyone to agree. It takes courage to disgaree and even more courage to disagree with love and grace!

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  6. Yet again, you leave me so encouraged and taking a deep breath in and out about so many of my ridiculous hang-ups. Thank you for the reminder that they *are* ridiculous and that I am who I am. Kind of a funny reminder to need, huh? :) What an amazing thing that your last post reached and blessed so many people! Keep writing and being yourself :)

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  7. I am an academically trained liturgist and an experienced Master of Ceremonies [Verger to BCP folks] and I heartily endorse your understanding of why we go to church on Sundays. I teach that the purpose of liturgy has little to do with offering things to God and everything to do with God nurturing Christians through Word and communal Meal. How can we have a real community without our children?

    I will save your account to use in some of my classes, and I hope your blog is still active for others to see where I got such a real, true to life outlook.

    Thank you very much.

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  8. Don't stop writing. I'm long past the child rearing stage - but your post brought back memories of my 2 year old being fascinated by the Eucharist in the Episcopal church we went to at the time. She offered up a loud commnentary on the Eucharist - which the priest DID NOT LIKE.

    You're doing a good thing here. Don't stop.

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  9. Don't stop writing - I remember when my child was 2 and giving a play by play commentary on the Eucharist in the Episcopal church I attended at the time - and he...was...FURIOUS.

    So...don't stop. Your voice is needed.

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  10. You have blessed my heart. Your courage inspires me to live courageously as well. Love!

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  11. May I print your original post, "Dear Parents..." with proper credit, in our monthly church newsletter? The advantage of using your words is that I'm saying this stuff all the time (though not as eloquently) and the people will hear it more clearly if it comes from someone else. Thanks for considering this request.
    Pastor Val, interim
    Eidsvold Lutheran Church
    Somers, MT

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  12. I totally get that!! :) I just started blogging this fall, and it's been bizarre to turn from actual introvert to effective extrovert. Utterly bizarre, and scary, to be and say who you really are on all these issues. It's very overwhelming--I'm sure--to get such a response! I mean, congrats too! You struck a chord--and while some may not appreciate your point of view--it needed to be sounded. Thank you for your courage. Keep it up. Your real friends will never "unfriend" you. Now take a deep breath, cuz I'm going to get you some more viewers. Don't worry. You look great. Write away, fellow mama! :)

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  13. Thank you for being courageous and speaking from your heart; both on children in church and on courage. Your words resound in me and en-courage me to raise my future children with love and grace within the church community. My husband is a (new) pastor and we are expecting our first little one come October. We have both grown up in the faith, going to church regularly and are happily anticipating raising our children the same. I am new to your blog as it seems are many these days, and I am looking forward to being nurtured and thought-provoked by your wisdom. Blessings to you and your family.

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  14. I absolutely love reading your posts and was just recently introduced to them through a friend. I have a 3 year old who has sat through every sermon that I have since he was born and it still isn't easy, probably because for the 1st 2 years of his life he slept through every sermon! Anyway, I have thought so many times that my child is disrupting EVERYONE in the sanctuary while every other child is being a perfect silent angel...of course, us mothers often are super sensitive to what our child is doing and not even noticing what another child is doing. Anyway, your children in church post meant s much to me and refreshed me and my outlook on why I continue to have him sit with me even though many Sunday's I cannot even tell you what the sermon was about because I am distracted with keeping him from distracting others. I have shared it already with a couple of other friends who have mentioned similar frustrations. Thank you so much and definitely keep writing...you inspire us anxious mothers (yes, I have anxiety "issues" too) Thanks, Samantha

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  15. May I print your "Dear Parents" post in its entirety in our congregation's monthly newsletter? I will include proper credit and a link directly to your blog. As the editor or the newsletter and the mother of a squirmy toddler, I couldn't wait to share your writing with others. Thank you for considering this request and please keep writing.

    In Peace,

    Jennifer Mitchell
    Newsletter Editor
    Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church
    Arlington, VA

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  16. Your "Dear Parents" post got me here. I have a 4-year-old who's starting to prefer "big church" with mom and dad to staying with his class, and an 11-year-old who's just his own quirky self and who really, REALLY struggles with the concept of still and quiet in church (and who is very quick to protest that he's bored and squirm and fidget, or try to lie down fully stretched out on the pew to take a nap during the sermon!). I am often the mom of "those" children. I worry that they're disturbing others. I worry that they won't ever learn how to truly be present in worship and how to give it their full attention. I worry that there's a sanctuary full of people giving me the stink-eye when my kids aren't quiet and aren't still and someone has to go to the bathroom fourteen times in a half-hour. Thank you for reminding me why we take our boys to church.

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  17. Thanks tearfully.. Thanks!! Was tearing the entire time I read that. I have had most of those thoughts and tried those tricks and again thank you for reaffirming we are doing the right thing with these sometimes crazy, beautiful children of ours!!

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  18. Love this -
    I found a note I'd taken from a book - {the fifth mtn, not a recommendation}
    and it said
    Courage is just fear that's said it's prayers.
    I have anxiety too - classes for my three oldest began today and I'm so overwhelmed with how our schedules are going to work/etc - the EXACT SMAE anxiety I felt a t the begining of the summer with no schedules..
    oh, the
    Irony.

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