Monday, December 7, 2009

Takin' It to the Extreme

Last week, I was chatting with my mother...some of you know her, most do not.  Mom and I have been through a lot in our journey as mother and daughter.  I struggle to have a lot of respect for her and the decisions that she's made in her life, but I know that I need to honor her because she is my mother.  I love my mother.  I really do. Even with all that's gone horribly wrong in our relationship, I love her and I'm grateful that we've been able to restore some small resemblance of a relationship in the past several years. 

As we were chatting about random and useless things, last week, she mentioned to me that I "shelter" my kids, too much.  When I asked her about why she believes this, she said its "because of all the things that you don't let them do - you don't let them 'be kids'." Huh?  What?

(If you know me well, at all, you know that this statement is really almost ludicrous because I'm fairly cognizant of NOT sheltering my kids - I want them to be knowledgeable about their world and life, so that they can stand against things that are wrong, with strength.)

I probed her for more specifics..."What do you mean? What do you think they should be allowed to do that we don't allow?" 

Here it comes...some criticism over my parenting decisions to go along with how much I let the kids run my house and I don't "discipline" them enough - which means I don't "spank" them enough. 

Her answer was that "You don't let them watch certain things, like certain cartoons or Harry Potter and you don't let them dress in scary costumes at Halloween."

Are you kidding me?  Remember, my kids are 9, 7, 5 and 3.

Then, she goes on to say that there are times when I am "stuck up" and "think that I'm better than everyone else because I am a (insert air quotes here) born-again Christian."  Yep.  That's right.  I think that I'm better because I'm a Christian.  Okay.  Really?

"What does that mean, Mom?", I say.  "How do I think that I'm better?"  In an effort to really hear what she's saying and trying to do some self-reflection, I really want to examine whether I put that out there.  I want to live a life that is an example of Christ's love and compassion - especially to my family who are not believers.  I want to show them that living with Christ isn't always easy but it's full of motivation, inspiration, forgiveness, love and grace.  I want them to see that Jesus is the reason that I can have a relationship with them at all.  So, when she says that the image I give off is that I'm better than they are, I'm mortified. 

Mom couldn't provide me very many examples and she couldn't really justify her statement.  All she could do is point out the decisions that I've made in my life, with my husband, for your family that are different than she would make.  She fell back to her stand-by "I raised you and your brother differently and you turned out just fine."  (Remember, I went into foster care at 12 years old and my brother has struggled with healthy relationships and substances off and on.  Really? She's going to take credit for how I turned out.  I'm not sure how to feel about that.)

I tried to explain to Mom that the things she was saying only explained why I made different decisions for my family.  She tried to tell me that there are pieces of the Bible that are completely true and other pieces that aren't relevant anymore.  She actually said that God was wrong on one point! As I quoted scripture to her to justify my point, she began to get more and more uncomfortable. 

Was she uncomfortable with me or with the Word? Is this what she means when she says I think I'm better than she?  Is it really about the differences in our core values? 

The realization I came to is that its not that I think I am better...I think that Jesus is better!  The Bible says "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me" in John 14:6. That's not ME saying that being a Christian is better - that's the Word of God saying it! I want to have Life.  I want to get to the Father.  I want to know Truth and be reassured that I'm on the right path.  I want to seek out that kind of certainty.  I don't want to have wander around in the grayness of today's "everything goes" mentality or the believe that "its all relative". 

I pray that my mother, my brother, my father, my step-parents and step-siblings come to know the Truth.  I want to see them in eternity. I want them to know the peace that comes from being born-again. I want my children to know that every decision we make, even if its about a show we watch or dont, a costume we wear or pass by, a relationship we honor or discard, matters to God.  I want to make decisions that can be jotted down with pride by my Heavenly Father.  I want to hear my Lord say "well done, thy good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:23) at the end of my life.  I want my children to see a legacy full of Christ's example in me!

So, if that means that I have to take it to the extreme - I will! Everyday!


  1. wow. don't even know what to say. good for you for standing your ground and speaking the truth. in these situations all that happens to me is getting tongue tied.

  2. A challenging position to be in, Serena. It could take years for your family to "come around". Just keep planting seeds.

    In this post-modern age of relativism, everyone expects "tolerance" from everyone else. The spoken and unspoken expectation is that we all just very civilly, "agree to disagree". Anyone who takes any position that has even a whiff of certainty is labeled "intolerant" or fanatical or "holier than thou". This is an unfortunate position to be in because as Christians, we know that we have the Truth - Jesus Christ! Without being wishy-washy or apologetic in our presentation, I think we still have to be sensitive to our audience. Society has trained them to expect tolerance. The last thing that we want to do is turn people away with a seemingly uncharitable attitude. Sometimes that is going to be humbling, as we may have to let an intellectual debate "go" and just let our life and behavior speak for itself.

    A final word of encouragement from the apostle Peter..."But even if you do suffer for righteouseness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence..."