I'm currently reading "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker and it's really resonating with me.
If you haven't read this book yet, do yourself a favor and grab a copy. It's a really great read about finding grace in a world of really high standards. It's about Jesus' redeeming gift of grace and salvation, it's about motherhood, it's about womanhood. It's just about life. And it's really funny. And, honestly, for me, has been a bit life changing.
This is the part that spoke like a dagger straight into my heart, the part where she talks about the differences between "spicy" and "sweet" families.
"We are spicy people. We love obnoxious humor and sarcasm and are very, very loud. The lot of us suffers from Enormous Feelings, which makes us a passionate, emotional bunch. Our permanent default setting is exclamation marks!! We don't really "do gentle." We don't actually know what that means."
After first checking around over my shoulder to make sure she didn't have a video monitoring my family, I stopped in my tracks and took in her statement. FINALLY. Someone understood my family dynamic. That is us, in a nutshell. (Those of you who know us well are nodding your heads vigorously right now.) I cannot begin to explain the enormous sense of relief I felt in realizing that there are other families like us.
I would love to blame it all on Bodie and the ridiculous amount of crap that has been hurled at our family in the last 9 years, but really, I can't. It's just how we are. It's how God made us, Dusk, me, Sierra and (definitely) Bodie.
Jen goes on to talk about extending grace to ourselves, in this whole parenting experience, and that, in the end, if her children's childhoods are "mostly good," she will have been successful as a parent.
Her entire chapter, "Hope for Spicy Families" and later "Dear Kids" (bring tissue for that chapter - it's amazeballs and has all the feels) really hit home for me. They made me realize how much of effort and energy I expend daily in trying to reign in my "spicy" family to make it "sweet," as though that is my goal in life.
But what if it's not?
What if God made my family to be spicy? And the best us is a spicy version of ourselves, not a mellowed out version that looks like someone else's family?
What if, in trying to tone us down, I'm not giving God room to let the talents and gifts HE has given my children to shine through? If I'm so busy comparing them to the inordinately well behaved kiddos in the family sitting next to us in the restaurant, or playing so nicely with one another at school, I'm not taking the time to look at who MY KIDS are. I might be missing their wonderful quirkiness, their love of life, their excitability (oh for the love, their excitability - it is off the charts, folks).
I might miss Sierra's curious nature and oh, my heavens, risk taking personality.
NOTHING scares this kid. That is probably my favorite trait of hers. She is ALWAYS up for new adventures.
And well, I probably wouldn't miss Bodie's off the charts excitement about things, because, let's face it, I'm pretty sure you can feel his excitement 10 states away.
But, I might be a little better equipped to deal with the other end of his excitement.
I call this one "When you inherited mommy's competitive gene…but your skills don't quite back up said competitive gene yet."
I guess my point is this. In this crazy world of social media showing us how perfect everyone else's family is, maybe we can give our own families some grace to be who God designed them to be - spiciness and all.
I know I can't be the only one in this boat. I'm not certain my kids will get out of childhood remembering it as "mostly good" (there's not much I can do about everything that has come our way), but if I can get sort of close to mostly good, I'll take it.
I'm not sure that was Jen Hatmaker's point in that chapter. But, for me, it was the point God wanted me to hear. And the gift I'm giving my family this Christmas. To take a step back and love the spiciness. Discipline where it's needed, yes, but not so much that I miss the chance to shepherd the talents He has given us.
So, Jen, thanks for the Christmas gift. I know two kids who will really appreciate it.