My son told me he didn’t like me. My automatic response, “Well, sometimes I don’t like you.” My idealistic/good response probably should’ve been, “I still like you,” or just a plain, “Hmm.” I responded out of hurt feelings, which seems so … preschoolerish, but it was the automatic response to rejection. Part of me thinks the idealistic response of “I still like you” isn’t very helpful: if someone told me that, I’d feel guilty that I didn’t like them or that they were better than me because they weren’t bothered by events – they weren’t affected by the conditional like myself. I’d rather be honest, though, with the hopes that Judah realizes I’m a mere mortal with conditional responses that I’m submitting to God hopefully on a day-to-day basis, and seeing actions that speak of a more enduring, day-to-day kind of love.
My son came home from a church event saying he didn’t like his friends, that they were bad. And so he hit them. The messiness of establishing community, appropriate actions and reactions, and stating the truth of feelings being experienced (logical or not) is hard. The path of least resistence, of the moment, would state, “Just don’t put him in settings like that anymore.” Avoidance doesn’t truly help: it simply numbs out the issue for the moment. It’s hard for me not to take on the labels others might bestow on your kid: hitter, out of control, whiner, weak, shrieker. I’m glad I’m not a label to God, and that through my kids, God’s peeling those labels off of my Self. I pray I can be a part of peeling those labels off of my kids, just like they’re so fond of doing to the produce in the store (though the store may not be so fond of that practice).
Last night at our church group we talked about the concept of The Embrace (via Miroslav Volf): he was referencing embracing the enemy, but the group facilitator was talking about the concept of embrace in marriage (which, yes, there were comments about if they were truly all that different :)). Four steps: open up, wait, embrace, release. We also talked some about our spiritual personalities, looking at results from an inventory. It was mentioned that these can change depending on the phase of life we’re in, which is good, because my strengths are all about being alone, and my “areas for growth” are about caretaking, i.e. the complete opposite of my day-to-day life. I felt a bit better in regards to comparing myself to women who seem to take to motherhood so naturally: perhaps they’re more natural caretakers. I told Jason that if I could sense God strongly there, I’d caretake till I fell over. But I sense God in times alone, in my head, in simplicity and rhythm. Yes, opportunities for growth, but it’s hard to initiate embrace in a place of weakness … or perhaps that’s where the Most True embrace occurs …
This morning Judah and I read The Jesus Storybook Bible, a recent gift from the Gran. Friends had highly recommended it, saying it didn’t gloss over Bible stories or dumb them down, but spoke truth in simple, poetic ways. I had prayed for some opportunities to talk to Judah about “theological” stuff, the stories of God beyond details, making it more formational than informational. After reading a few chapters, Judah told me that God is bad because He lets us sin. He then told me God kills bad guys, that God doesn’t like him, and wondered if we can buy fruit at the store like on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Perhaps teaching theology and story isn’t my strong suit, that, or I’m sending him to seminary to confubulate the professors there – at least they get paid for such questions and teachings. 🙂
This morning I was reading Fruit of the Vine, and the writer mentioned something along the lines of the committment to be in relationship with others is not contingent on being conflict-free, but of committment to resolve the conflict. A timely reminder.