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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

We are Bad Parents

MOST nights you will find Team Davis eating dinner together around the dinner table.  Granted, this has lately involved me laying on the couch with my feet up looking at the dinner table trying to reduce the size of my preggo feet.  

There are a few rules around the table:

  • NO electronics or toys – purely family time and conversation 
  • NO getting up without asking to be excused (which at the end of the meal includes a “thank you” to whoever made or bought the meal) 
  • LISTEN when others are talking and do not talk over them
For the most part, the kids (and the parents) do a pretty good job at the rule following.  Most dinners also involve a “Best Part/Worst Part of Day” or as some people call it “the highs/lows”.  During one of these conversations Taylor was expressing her frustrations around a particularly difficult day and that all their friends tell them they have “bad parents”.   Her face quickly showed the fear of repeating such a statement and you could see that she was certain there would be some consequence for calling us “bad”.  Instead I smiled…

Me: That’s great! I’m glad your friends think I’m a bad mom

Jordan: Doesn’t it make you angry that they call you bad?

Me: Nope! You talk about these kids all the time (note: these kids are particularly mean, bullying, selfish, spiteful children) – I don’t want to be the kind of mom they think is “good”.

Taylor: They say you are bad because you don’t let us have our own smart phones and that you won’t let us get on youtube by ourselves or search Google whenever we want.

Me: Exactly! I’ll proudly take the title of “Bad Mommy” if protecting you, loving you, and raising you the way God has called me to is “bad”.

This got me thinking about John 15:17-19

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Let me define “world”.  By “world” I mean anyone that is not a Christian (defining Christian well would take another 5 pages so I’m going to skip that for now).  In other words, the “world” hated Christ.  Because we have surrendered our lives to live the way Christ has called us, they therefore hate us.

My kids deal with the “hate” of the world on a daily basis.  From being picked on because they follow the rules (as Taylor puts it “you can only be in the ‘cool’ group at school if you do stuff that is bad and makes the teachers angry) to being nice to those that are being excluded (Taylor talking to the girl in her class with the yellow teeth and bad breath that everyone makes fun of).  It’s hard for them.  It’s hard for us (Justin and I) to listen our kids nearly daily express their hurt around being called names, being ostracized, and being physically attacked on occasion because they are being raised to do the RIGHT thing.  To add to that they are picked on because of the choices their parents are making to protect them from the “world”. 

I want to clarify what I mean by “protect them from the world”.

Living in the World is NOT bad. Our entire lives my kids will be surrounded by the “world”.  That is not bad.  In fact, we are called (as Christians) to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) We are expected to live in the “world” surrounded by those that are not Christians and that is not a bad thing at all. My kids are encouraged to talk to us about things they are unfamiliar with or things they hear that seem to contrary to what we believe.  Like when my 4th grader comes home and asks about why her friends are talking about how they have sex already.  She asks what that means. Then in 5th grade she asks why they do it if they aren’t married (or at least they say they are doing it) when we have taught her that sex is for marriage.  We don’t’ shy away from these conversations, we have them, we encourage them.  We explain the biblical principles behind them so, when it comes time, they can make her own educated choices based on biblical principles.

We do NOT expose them to things in the world that will CAUSE them to sin.  This can mean different things to different people.  This can even be different depending on which of my kids we are talking about.  They all struggle with their own things.  For us this means things like making sure all “Google” searches are done with a parent nearby because even the most innocent of searches can return something like pornographic images/sites (which are a sin).  This means things like not allowing my 10 year old to have a cell phone because she is still learning to stand up for herself (learning to say NO to peer pressure) and she tells me about the things she has seen on friends phones (yes, 4th graders are sending penis pictures to each other, using group chats to bully each other, encouraging each other to steal some cash from their parents, and so on).

We expect them to LOVE the world. We also explain to them we are called to love the world.  That we, as Christians, are no better than the world.  That we ALL deserve hell.  That the only difference between “us” and “them” is that we have realized our brokenness and made the decision to be a Christian (again this is a complicated definition that I will not get into now).  That doesn’t make us better.  And because of that we should LOVE everyone like God loves us, Christian or not.  It means that just because somebody might be living a life of sin, doesn’t mean we get to be mean to them or disrespect them.

So, what is the point of this post?! That’s a great question.\

The point is that I’m proud to be a ‘bad mommy’.  I’m proud of my kids for repeatedly going against the “flow” of the world and standing strong in their beliefs.  I’m proud to say the world hates me because I refuse to live like those in the world (YES I make mistakes – I’m not perfect). I proud to admit that we will not shy away from difficult conversations with our kids about sex, drugs, and rock and roll because it could be uncomfortable. If the world hates me for doing the right thing, then I’m doing something right (if a murderer hates you for telling him murder is wrong… that’s a good thing).

BUT it sucks.  Having a child call me names like “bad mommy” doesn’t bother me one bit, but for my kids it can be devastating.  It sucks that I know it will never really get easier – that their entire lives they will be ‘hated’.  But, we (as Christian parents) can encourage them that pleasing the Lord is worth more than pleasing the world.  That in the end, all the hate we experience towards us will be worth it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I Didn’t Marry the Man of my Dreams

11 years.  That is (almost) how long ago I got married.  I was a young 21 years old and for years I’d been excited about someday being married to my ‘soul mate’, the ‘man of my dreams’, the man who would ‘complete me’.

I should start by saying that I had some high expectations that started to develop around the age of 16.  My husband had to be taller than me, blonde hair, blue eyes, NO body hair, clean shaven, fit (but not to where I could see a 6 pack – that’s too much pressure), and of course he needed to love the Lord.  Personality? At 16, obviously looks meant a whole lot more to me.  And if I was honest with myself, the ‘loving the Lord’ part was what I was “supposed” to say at that point in my life – I’m not sure I would have ACTUALLY considered that a deal breaker (I’d never admit that though).

By 18, I had had a few boyfriends and realized maybe ‘looks’ were not the best way to choose a lifelong mate.  So, my husband had to be attractive (I mean I had to like looking at him), NO body hair, taller than me, fun to be around (yes – this is when I realized being friends before jumping into a relationship was probably a good idea), love the Lord (at this point I actually meant it), and somebody who made me feel comfortable in ‘us’ (like ‘us’ was a priority). Those were the attributes I’d admit to.  Deep down there were all these crazy expectations I didn’t even know I had.  I had built the ‘perfect’ man in mind, we’d never fight, he’d always see things my way, he’d take care of my every need (I probably meant ‘want’ and not ‘need’), he’d always give me his undivided attention, our philosophies on parenting and marriage would be exactly the same, and so on.  THAT was my dream man.

Then I met Justin.  He was not THAT dream man.  Sure, he met my superficial qualifications, but he wasn’t the man of my dreams.  Then I started to fall for the guy.  I didn’t want to fall for the guy.  I was just out of a crazy un-healthy relationship (and so was he), he wasn’t what I had been ‘praying for’, he just wasn’t THE guy, the dream guy.

But who am I kidding!? He had that smile (and dimples) that made me feel all giggly. He made me laugh like nobody ever had.  He went out of his way to make me feel appreciated.  He took on all that early baggage that came with my mess of a life and made me feel safe.  I fell in love with this man – and he wasn’t the man of my dreams.

I image that the many times in prayer, asking God for the ‘man of my dreams’, God must have found my prayers rather ridiculous and shallow.  I image a smirk on his face like only a parent can give.  The ‘you think you know what you want but you are SO wrong’ smirk.  A pat on the head and a ‘there there my poor naïve child’. Instead, all those years he was preparing Justin and me for the day we would choose each other. 

So, did I marry the man of my dreams? By God’s amazing grace HECK NO! I married the man I didn’t even know I needed.  I married the man who pushes me to better, even when I don’t like it.  I married the man who questions me when I know I’m right (I’m totally not) and makes me actually think through my decisions and opinions.  I married the man who comforts me when I’m falling apart. I married a man who is as determined as me to make this marriage work despite the crap we do to each other along the way.  I married the man who is so much better than anything my naïve 18 year old self could ever have imagined.  Marriage is NOT easy, it’s a whole lot more work than I ever thought it could be, but I’m grateful that Justin is the one I’m in it with.