Wednesday, March 5

When a Mom Won't Give Up

Dear Jacob,

You know that every year we do this thing called Lent which leads us up to Easter in the same way that Advent leads us up to Christmas.  This is a fairly new practice for me -- for us; I don't approach it as a ritual or an obligation. Spiritual practices give us the opportunity to become more fully formed into the image of Christ. You know, we are all made in God's image and finding out what that means is a discovery process. So, Lent is a season in that discovery.

What I like about Lent is that it is a different practice for everyone but it takes us to the same place. I love that we're all working together in a million different areas to create a more purified "body of Christ," an image the New Testament gives us to explain the church, and we all get to rise up new on Easter Sunday. It's like working on a house with the framing, the electrical, the plumbing, the paint. I can't criticize someone else's practice for Lent because if we're talking about building a house or even if we are Frankenstein-ing a body together every little thing should matter. Every part contributes to the refinement of the whole.  And so we all choose the area that our small part makes in the body of Christ and then we show up on Easter unified in our sacrifice and ready to be filled with his wholeness.  It's beautiful.  It gives me chills.

Many people give something up, others take on something new.  I've done both over the years and you've somewhat been a part of those things.  Last year, you remember, we gave up a quarter of our income and gave it to a children's home and a church in Delhi, India.  Our contribution did some wonderful things and went so much farther in rupees than it would have in dollars. Thank you for tolerating that time with us, giving up eating out, stretching the groceries, trying not to ask for things. It was a sacrifice for everyone.

The year before, we decided to give up meat and so dinners were very creative and different.  That one didn't affect you as much, but you still witnessed the practice.  Prior to that my practices were private.  One year I practiced forty minutes of writing each day and one year I practiced intercession, where I prayed for other people, and I would email the first person who came to my mind to tell them I was praying for them and to ask if there was anything specific I could hold before God.  That year I wimped out.  I prayed for you, but I didn't tell you.  I guess as a Christian mom you just assume your kids know that they're being prayed for. But I don't think you know.

This year, when I asked God, "Where am I the least like Jesus?" what came back was, "In your parenting." Ug.  I've known this, felt this, owned this for quite a while. When you were born I studied the scriptures to find out just how God fathers his children so that I could parent in the same way --  nurturing and compassionate, wise and discerning.  I think in many ways I nail it, but in may ways I miss the mark of parenting like God.

So, for Lent this year I am "taking up" my kids. And my practice for each of you will be different.  I have been listening to you.  I have heard you say that you don't feel encouraged, even loved.  I have heard you say that you are afraid.  I have heard you say that you believe the gospel, but you don't think you can know Jesus. And I think, that if I did a better job of showing him to you, that maybe you might find new ways to respond to life, to frustration, to the gifts that God gives you every day.

My lenten practice will be to write you a letter every day.  And in order to be as vulnerable as I can and as accountable as I can, I will put it up here on my blog so that you can read it and so that we have a record of that time when your mom desired to be more like Jesus in your eyes.  A time when your mom gave up pride for Lent and told you about her own brokenness, mistakes and questions.  But also a time when she told you her story with God and how that story changed her.

Our stories are intimately intertwined -- you, God and me -- but sometimes, lately, it feels like they're at odds.  I sat down at the table the other night and said to your dad, "I can't believe that this is where we're at."  I never imagined that our relationship with you would be as broken as it is.  But I want to let that brokenness push us into something new. Like our new friend said this week, "Crisis is just a turning point."  I hope that he's right.  I want to begin a new thing.

At one time, you were my new thing, all fresh from the womb and simple and needy.  I've failed to think of you as my new thing for a long time.  I keep moving on to other new things. But in this season I want to look at you anew and let you sit back and consider how God is making even your mom new as well.

For Lent this year, my practice is to "take you up," to meet the challenges you give for me to speak into. And yours is simply to read. And hope.

Love you, Jake. More than you can ever know.