“How does one become a butterfly?" she asked.
"You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
Yep, you guessed it! Another butterfly quote by anonymous!
Don't you wish there was some sort of formula for life transitions? One that was quick and easy to remember (like r*t = d... or the Pythagorean theorem...?) and that always worked, regardless of all those other circumstances and differing perspectives? Or some sort of herbal medication - a few drops under the tongue twice a day and improvement seen rapidly?
But there isn't one... at least not that we've found.
Even within our family. There are ten of us, and each one of us responds differently, needs different things, hurts in different ways. As a family, we experience a cacophony of celebrations and catastrophes.
- One anticipates a new adventure.
- Another misses a system and a schedule to life that was was just the perfect pace.
- At times we all feel partnership development frequently feels purposeless and ultimately self-serving especially when compared to making God's Word accessible to those who long for it.
- Friends and people who get it seem so remote and far away.
- And how do you really explain that while you are home... you are also far from home?
- Reminders knock you over out of the clear blue and can totally make your day or shatter your heart, in an instant - but it never happens to more than one... occasionally two... at a time.
- Someone struggles with all the new, all over again.
- One child, in particular, who after years of battling and working to succeed, is - finally. That one is terrified of falling back into failure because of parents who are convinced they are following God's leading, and facing all that work, all over again.
- Biggers flying the nest and wondering what all this will look like for them, what will it be like to go visit Dad and Mom at home that is unknown and isn't really home.
- This mama heart finds it more terrifying raising children in North America than she ever did on the backside of the Sahara.
Really, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The only question I feel qualified at all to address is that next-to-last one: many moons ago, right after my graduation, we packed our van and moved from Oklahoma to not far outside Boston. Before I graduated from university, my parents moved again and I had to get directions to find "home."
But all of those other questions, fears and concerns? I don't know. I'm living them, though.
There really is no road map. So where do I go? What do I do?
Frankly, in this uncharted territory, I'm focusing on these things:
- Trying, as David did, to "strengthen myself in the Lord." That means going to Him first, to His Word, asking Him to speak to my here and now through texst that He has promised are profitable... and then waiting in confident quietness and gentleness even if I'm not hearing immediate answers.
- Discipling our family through this very same process.
- Following that rejoicing with... weeping with... principle. Asking permission to grieve with/for my children in the hard moments has been an incredibly powerful and growing experience.
- Listening more than we talk and offer advice.
- Lots of praying ...and then praying even more.
- Making sure that our children know we love them and would do anything for them to help them with the hard choices we've made for our family - except refuse to make those hard choices or only make the easy ones.
- Allowing and encouraging their involvement in other ministries and supporting them as they branch out in areas and with ideas that were uncomfortable or hard for us. One unexpected benefit has been that our kids have seen how they help us to grow as a result.
- When we so often mess up, be it a little bit or royally - when they hurt because of our choices and decisions, apologizing and asking forgiveness.
- When by God's grace, we stumble on right things "by accident" - clearly thanking the One Who enabled.
- Remembering and reminding ourselves often that we shouldn't expect easy or immediate reward and redemption of our sacrifices. Jesus warned us that following Him wouldn't be, that we should count the cost. Which means that while "cost" is uncomfortable, "cost" isn't wrong.
The crazy amazing thing about this crazy, amazing and still on-going ride through the turbidity of transition has been that we strengthen ourselves in the Lord to hopefully help our children and loved ones... who in turn encourage and help strengthen us as they walk into and begin to explore our brave new-to-us world.
As I was typing that last sentence, two little girls came running into the house, squealing in amazement and excitement. Outside, God has gifted us with a beautiful Saturday and they are playing in the hose as they help Daddy water the garden and wash the cars. They'd just seen a rainbow in the water and figured that it was something that just couldn't be true. As I stopped writing for a moment to explain just exactly why it could be true, the growing awe and delight on my brand new second grader's face was simply beautiful. Then, she giggled and as she skips back outside, she hollered back over her shoulder something to the effect of, "Mama, God is so coooool (as only an exuberant second grader can exclaim)! He didn't just put His promise in the big rainbows! He put His promise in every drop of water if I just look at it the right way!"
Outta the mouths of babes, eh?
We're right where we need to be - wanting and trusting God to redeem these lives He's given in whatever way He sees fit, so much so that we're willing to brave the darkness of the chrysalis while He works this change... and the next... and the next...
for the first post in this two part series.