Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Wow! What a long year this week has been, right?
For me, I hit the ground running on Monday, collecting data and brainstorming strategies to equip teachers, parents and students for what I had been watching former colleagues and friends walking through in other parts of the world—school closures and the adjustment to providing instruction and learning online (some stuck outside of the country they were teaching in for weeks because the outbreak happened while they were on holiday).
From Tuesday on it was a whirlwind. I don’t even know what my kids did during “homeschool” time this week because I was not able to be home with them. Each morning when I left, my EJ was in tears. I think she sensed all of the sudden changes, the unprocessed fears and the endless unknowns and had no words, just tears and clinging and, “Please, don’t go to work today, Mom.”
And then on Friday, I watched as my oldest fought so hard to keep his emotions at bay after plans to spend time with friends were cancelled—he runs on the high end of the extrovert spectrum and removing school and activities from his life is a recipe for struggle. His eyes were so full of hurt all day long.
In addition, every night this week at bedtime my second-born (and seriously the most emotionally intelligent member of our family) confessed, “Mom, it is all too overwhelming. There have been too many changes: new school, back to old school, school closing, all my favorite activities cancelled. I just want to be able to see my friends. I just want life to be normal for a while.”
My initial response to my own stress, and my kids’ stress too, was to shrug it off: people have done harder things, previous times in history have demanded much more sacrifice. This makes me more of a pep-talk approach mom, than a sit-down and process feelings together type mom. Because of my personality and approach to change, it can be hard for me to be present and understanding of the disappointments and hurt we are all processing in different ways during times like this.
Over the last 24 hours, I have come to some new insight that I can only believe has come to me because of God’s grace and because He loves my kids event more than I do. Here is what He is helping me to see, just because my way of dealing with interruptions and hardships is to dig in, plan forward and focus on solutions, doesn’t mean that is what I should expect from my kids (or anyone for that matter). In fact, if I only focus on my approach, I will miss seeing that what seems like little disappointments to me (i.e. cancelled school, gymnastics, soccer, church, Friday nights with friends), are likely a very big deal to my kids. Based on the life experiences they have had so far, the changes they are facing this week (and likely to continue in the weeks to come) aren’t small—they are life altering and hard.
As I have been reflecting on all of this, and asking God to provide wisdom to lead myself and my family well, I remembered something monumental I learned this fall from reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book,It's Not Supposed Be This Way; Most of my life I have downplayed my disappointments and hurts because compared to what I have seen others walk through, it seemed small, and less than noteworthy. But by the middle of the book I began to see and believe that by treating my disappointments as “not a big deal” I hadn’t let myself hurt. Which meant I hadn’t admitted I was wounded and in need of a healer. Which meant that I hadn’t “needed” Jesus. Which meant I also hadn’t asked or let Jesus come in and heal. Learning to admit my disappointments hurt, and that hurt is hurt, and hurts need healing, allowed me to think and believe differently. I began to let myself lean into Jesus more and to find a different level of understanding of God’s desire for me to bring every disappointment and hurt to him so that he can speak truth and love over it, me and my future.
This week I am now being asked to put my own learning into practice: To ask my kids (or anyone else) to shrug off their disappointments or simply push forward with strength of mind and purpose will not help them learn what God has so graciously taught me in recent months. Instead, if I can sit with them and help them process their disappointments and hurts, (without comparing them to others things in an attempt to help them “feel better” by way of it not being “as bad as...”) then I can also help them to see that disappointment is disappointment. Hurt is hurt. And that somethings don’t belong on scales and are not to be measured by degrees.
God cares about what disappoints us. He hurts when we hurt. And most importantly, He doesn’t want us to cover up pain that He can so quickly heal when we allow ourselves to admit that we are disappointed and hurt, and are in need of healing. His truth and His grace and His promises, they change us. They change our perspective on our hurt and disappointments. And that is what heals us, but if we don’t let our kids (and ourselves) admit that we are hurting, then we won’t feel the need to go & see the Great Physician for the healing and comfort He offers to us.
So adults, here is my challenge to us as we walk alongside our children and students in the coming weeks, let’s help them talk about and process their disappointments and hurts in ways that give them permission to be disappointed and hurt. Let’s start with understanding more and pep-talking less. Most of all, when they bring us their feelings and thoughts, let’s also teach them how to pray those same words to God. Let’s walk them step-by-step through the process of laying their burdens down--with words, emotions, artwork, songs, or whatever communication style works for them--at the feet of Jesus. Then let’s give them His words of promise, truth and peace to guide them forward. But let’s not rush it. Let’s give them time and tools to first believe their disappointments and hurt are worth noting, so that they can see their need for the healing arms of Jesus. And then, let’s be those arms, wrapping them up in love, peace, grace and understanding.
We are living in monumental times. The next generation will be deeply impacted by the days ahead. How we teach, lead and love them through these tumultuous waters has the power to alter the course of the future. If God didn’t think we were up to it, He wouldn’t have set us in this specific time in history. Friends, God knew we would be the ones walking this Earth in the year 2020. He knew you and I would be on this battle ground together. Therefore, because He has set us here, He has also equipped us to be who the next generation needs us to be for His glory and the love He has for us and the generations to come. Believe it. Live like you believe it. You and I, and our kids, we were made for such a time as this.
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: