Morning Glories

My daughter wrote a story about someone who sinks into deep depression and then slowly, slowly, pulls out of it. And the story uses the Morning Glory flower as a symbol of hope. When I read the story I found myself sobbing, recognizing myself in the main character. Finally acknowledging the numbness that had taken over my life, which I had grimly tried to ignore as I pushed through each day, determined to not let my family down. And I was filled with a tiny spark of hope. Yes, you can pull yourself through. Depression does go away. Life returns. 

Since I’ve read that story I have been seeing Morning Glories everywhere. As I was driving down the road to take my kids to school, there, look, Morning Glories covering a fence. Hope. As I took a walk, there, look, Morning Glories in the neighbor’s yard. Hope. And yesterday when I found myself actually having the motivation to get out into my yard with my kids, play with them, plant some things, I found Morning Glories in the very back corner of the yard, a place I usually don’t go. And I laughed and took a picture and I knew that it was no longer a spark, but a full blown flame. Hope. 

I went on a retreat several weeks ago. During the retreat I dealt with some old wounds. Or at least, started dealing. And I found myself feeling emotions again. Sure, it was anger and pain, but I was feeling again. I read somewhere that in order to feel joy and happiness we have to allow ourselves to feel anger and pain. When we stuff the bad emotions we end up in a place where all our emotions are flat. We can’t have the good without letting ourselves feel the bad too. As I have allowed myself to process the hard emotions, I have found the lighter ones returning. 

After the retreat I felt myself going silent. I needed a break from words, from thoughts, from interacting with people. I needed to just sit and feel and mourn and heal. And that’s why there haven’t been any new blogs in a while. I didn’t let it bother me. I knew the words would come back when I was ready. And this morning I felt the familiar itch to put my thoughts down where I could see them. And it’s good to be writing again. 

We’ve had a lot going on in the family the last couple months. Made some big decisions about our kids’ schooling. My third child graduated high school. We got to have a mini family reunion as I had all my kids in one place for the graduation. And now summer is going full force as I try to keep track of everyone’s summer plans with kids going in all directions. I am living one day at a time. Welcoming joy back into my life. Keeping an eye out for Morning Glories. And, as always, resting in the fact that God is good. 

Sin and Bad Dreams

I just woke up from a horrible dream. In the dream I was sleeping around on my husband. And then someone walked in on me, right after the fact, and they could tell what I had been doing and the look of shock and disappointment on their face was horrible. And I started making up all these lies and excuses, but I could tell they didn’t believe me. And they left and I sat there knowing that I would never have peace until I confessed what I had done, but how could I confess? My husband would divorce me and then it would ruin our kids’ lives. And I knew I would just have to keep this horrible secret forever and I was just covered in despair. 

And then I woke up. And I had to go through some self talk to calm myself down. Have you slept around on your husband? No. No I haven’t. Are you planning on sleeping around on your husband. No. No I’m not. Ok. Then this is not your worry. You don’t have to carry these feelings around. Let it go. It was just a bad dream. 

But then honesty had to kick in. Are you capable of sinning like this? Umm. Yes. My heart is just as sinful as the next person. There have been rough times in our marriage that, if I had been faced with the exact right temptations, I might have succumbed. But, God’s grace has kept me. 

And then I just had to sit there and cling to that. God’s grace has kept me. 

From so many things. 

And then I had to think about the nature of our God. He is God who can unravel any mess that we make. What if I had been in that situation? What if I had confessed such a sin? Maybe my husband would have divorced me. Maybe not. But I do know that God would have been faithful to work in my heart. To bring me to a place of repentance. To take me through a path of healing. To help me deal with the sin issues in my heart that led me in that direction. And throughout all of it, he would have stayed with me. 

The tragedy of the dream, I think, is the pain and suffering I would have caused my husband and children. Why do our sins always end up hurting other people? And knowing that God could bring me to a place of repentance and healing, but what about those wounds I would have inflicted on my family? I would have no power to heal those wounds. Only God could. And I would have no power to force my loved ones to turn to God for that healing. It would be completely up to them what they did with those wounds. 

It brings home how completely dependent we are on God’s mercy and grace. We truly live in a sinful dark world. And we are capable of the worst sins imaginable. And it is truly a miracle that Jesus would be willing to come down and offer a solution to our sin problem. He died on the cross and took the punishment for all this sin that we humans so easily commit. If we turn to him and repent of our sins, he will forgive us, and cover us with his own goodness. When God looks at me, he no longer sees sinful Esther. He sees Esther covered in Jesus’ goodness. Clean. Acceptable. And when I submit myself to him, say Your will be done in my life, not my own will, he is faithful to lead me down a path of goodness. 

And yes, while I live on this earth, I will still deal with sin issues that pop up here and there. We are on a path of change, while God works in our hearts to slowly make us more like him. But my God is big enough to unravel every mess I make. And I cling to his grace and mercy. 

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Our Adult Children

This past week I’ve had converstaions with not one, not two, but three different people about Grown Up Children. About how we need a support group for parents in this stage of life. How our adult children need a support group as they recover from our poor parenting. About shifting our approach to our children and learning how to truly let them go to be adults. 

This is a touchy topic for me. I struggle with feeling a lot of guilt, shame, and bewilderment as I try to navigate this stage of life. The bewilderment comes as I realize that all those promises that people gave you… If you just homeschool, if you have daily devotions, if you eat all your meals together as a family, if you just stay connected…If you do A, B, and C, then you will produce a child who enters adulthood gracefully. They will be wise. They will make the best decision every single time. They will have a strong direction for their life and they will pursue it in a straight line, from the moment they graduate high school. They will teach Sunday School and be one of those people that others count as a Great Role Model. All you have to do is A, B, and C… All of these promises are empty. But I think they are empty because they are working off the wrong assumptions. 

I think, as young parents, we start off with unreasonable (wrong) expectations. Maybe, we remember how responsible and mature we were as young adults, and we presume that we are going to make carbon copies of ourselves. Or maybe, we had a rough start in life, and so we parent with the express purpose of making sure our kids don’t turn out like we did. Either way, we tend to forget that these children we are raising are their own person. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. They have their own free will. They have their own lives to chart out. We are called to train and equip our children. Teach them the difference between right and wrong. Teach them about God and all that his Word says about him. Teach them all the skills they need to succeed in our culture. But, what they do with all that information, that’s their choice. And it is not a reflection on us what they choose to do. 

I think we get really hung up on our own self-consequence when it comes to our grown up kids. We tie their behavior to our own self-worth. My grown up kid is doing things I don’t agree with. It must mean I was a horrible parent. My grown up kid is struggling. I have failed. My friends and family don’t agree with the lifestyle my grown up kid has chosen, they must all think I did something wrong. Woe is me. 

And this comes back to letting go of our grown up kids. Our grown up kids are now adults and the decisions they make are on them. Yes, we made parenting mistakes. Every single parent in the world has made and will make parenting mistakes. It is part of the curse of Adam. We are all sinners. We sin against our kids. But every person hits an age where they have to decide what they are going to do about it. They have to make the decision that yes, they have hit adulthood with some handicaps. They have wounds, poor training, perhaps trauma that they now have to work through so that they can get on with their lives. But, they are the only ones who can get on with their lives. Their parents can ask their forgiveness, go to therapy with them, make penance, but in the end, it’s still them who have to do the hard work of overcoming and moving on. 

As parents, it’s hard to accept that. I feel shame and guilt for all the ways I messed up. I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I can give you a pretty concise list of all the things I wish I had done differently. I’ve been trying to make a point to express this to my grown up kids. Own my mistakes. I did this and this and I’m really sorry. Please forgive me. Some of those mistakes will have life-long effects on my kids. But, unfortunately, I am no longer in a position to get them the healing they need to recover from those wounds. They have to pursue that on their own. All I can do is keep loving them, keep being there, and pray like crazy. And be humble enough to accept the fact that God’s grace covers these sins too. 

I have two grown up kids right now. I think they are amazing. I am over-the-top proud of them. They’ve made their own choices and continue to do the hard work of just muddling through, trying to figure things out. Young adulthood is messy. There is no way I would want to go back and live that time of my life again. I am confident that God has his hand on their lives and I am proud to be their mom. 

But, I’d like to add, their progression through adulthood has not looked anything like I thought it would. And that’s not good or bad. It just is. Their story is just beginning, and I’m learning how to step down from Parent-in-Charge to the new role as Chief Cheerleader, Back-up Support, and Prayer Warrior.