I’ve had this post in draft for about a week now. I’ve been a little worried that my posts are coming across not as “real life” but more as complaints about the struggles of being a parent. But I’ve tried writing some more lighthearted posts, they just aren’t from my heart. As a commitment to myself, this blog is always about real life – real joys, real struggles, real breakthroughs with The Lord. Some days I feel wildly joyful about the messiness of parenthood and the beauty of children. And other days…well, those are real life too. So bear with me as I talk through our lives. And join me if you want, as I seek to be changed and grow in The Lord through it all.
Once upon a time, I took everything personally. Every look, every comment, every accidental exclusion, every intentional inclusion, surely all of them must have an ulterior motive.
Then, after a series of relational eye openers, I made a decision: getting offended is not worth my energy. And so, with a lot of intentional practice, I changed my mind about how people treated me. I say this lightheartedly, but mind you, it wasn’t a lighthearted change.
And now I have children. Very verbal children, as a matter of fact, and as we all know, kids say the darnedest things. For some reason, the decision to not be offended hasn’t transferred as easily toward my kids as I would have expected. Here are some of the things they’ve said to me, just in the last few weeks:
Norah, while standing next to me, discovered my unfortunate amount of gray hairs: Mommy! What IS that?! Get those out of there!
Micah, after a very sweet snuggle: Mommy, when will your belly be smaller again?
Me: After baby Elena is born, it will get smaller slowly.
Micah: But I want it small right away.
Me: It will have to shrink like a balloon with a tiny hole in it. It will take a little while.
Micah, bursting into tears: But your big belly really bothers me!
Norah, quoting a Yo Gabba Gabba song: Don’t bite your friends!
Me: Remember you bit me yesterday? Am I your friend?
Norah, after thinking about it for about three seconds, just started snapping her jaws at me. She later informed me I am not her friend nor Micah’s friend, but lucky for him, Daddy is both of their friends.
Micah: Mom, you smell like fat chicken.
Micah: Mom, can I put a bow in your hair?
Me: No thanks, buddy. I’m wearing my hair down today.
Micah: But I really wanted you to look pretty for my birthday today!
Love keeps no record of wrongs, right? So all of these little comments from my kids, who really don’t know that they’re hurting my feelings, should roll right off of me like water off a duck’s back. Should is the key word here. Don’t is the more appropriate word. Apparently next I need to teach them tact and proper timing and just what not to say.
It’s easy to get offended when you’re laying so much of yourself down for another person, especially because that sacrifice makes you vulnerable to them. And why is it that the more vulnerable we are, and the more we have to trust someone with our hearts, the more the little things make us feel offended? I mean, come on. If they know me so well, don’t they know better? I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few days, and what I’ve come to realize in myself is that it’s because it feels like an affront to my dignity. But more than that , if I really look at it, it’s an affront to my pride. Those people who are closest to me are not affording me the respect I feel like I deserve, and that means my pride gets hurt. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes the things people say and do are a genuine offense to our dignity, and that should be dealt with. What I’m saying is, most often, in my life with my family, it’s not my value that is feeling sore. It’s my pride.
What it comes down to is me feeling like I deserve better than you saying that to me. Didn’t you see all the work I did today? How could you say and do that, after everything you put me through? Who are you to make that judgment on me ? How dare you take that tone with ME!
But my family and those close to me are most often not intentionally hating on me. When it comes down to it, the offense I feel is also a question of worth. Did my value as a person, wife, or mom diminish because my kids insulted me? Am I less of a person because they don’t like my cooking or because I ruin fun with cleanup time or because I picked the ugly shoes to wear today? Do I have less dignity because my husband and I both happened to be grumpy and yell at each other yesterday morning? Am I worth less because my daughter spoke to me in the ugliest voice she could muster?
The answer is no. I am a person of value because Jesus created me. I am a person of dignity because Jesus died for me. My worth lies not in my role or my performance or my ratings. My worth lies in Jesus Christ. If He died to save me and He loves me, that’s the end all anyway, and no amount of insult or offense can change His opinion of me.
As I walk through each day with my small kids , teaching them how to do life and how to love God, I have to remember that God is using them to also teach me how to do life and how to love Him. If I let Him speak to my heart, these moments of offense can be real moments of reassurance. He shows me again who I am in Christ, and just what that means for my interactions with my family. I don’t have to take things to heart. I can take them to His feet and let Him transform them into words of His love for my soul.