Posted on January 25, 2016
Joy cracks conformity.
“Mom,” my seven-year old wept as she slunked against the cold window on the way home from school, “it happened again.”
A chill stemmed from my heart to the heated steering wheel as I swiped the volume down.
“Same person?” I pressed.
“One stopped, but there’s still one more.”
Kids are funny about what they share, aren’t’ they? Brianne unravels the truth as she needs mine to apply to it. Perfect, because I can’t handle the whole story at once emotionally, anymore than she can digest the entirety of my reaction/advice.
“I thought it was only one person doing it…” I said in a fake, I’m-not-angry-about-it-at-all tone.
“Well, there were more, but now there’s just one …and she keeps erasing my mascot.” The tears were now visible in the rear view mirror, and I could barely drive I wanted to hug her so bad.
“Your mascot?” My own tears blocked the road.
“Yes, Happy Heart…my mascot,” she explained.
“Well that’s-not very-nice and I’m-so sorry,” I blurted in a cracked tone.
“The thing I don’t get is that she’s my friend…”
Now she was full on crying, and so was I…and so was little sis Lo.
Some friend. I had to pull back from the conversation and revert to comforting mode before I let my anger drive my mouth and call the kid’s parents. Later on, I yearned to define what a true friend was to my daughter…so I Googled it. Dictionary.com says a friend is:
No where in that list of definitions does it require one friend to conform to another, yet we have mixed reactions to differences in qualifying and ranking our friendships, don’t we? Let’s face it, sometimes Emo Joe is a ‘ way cooler’ mascot than Happy Heart. The challenge to define and find friendship requires a look inward at how to be a good friend.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though. Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fireman result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1Peter1:6-7
I think a little bit of Jesus Christ is revealed right in these two verses, shedding light on the definition of friendship in two ways:
A good friend is genuine, a trait revealed by trials.
Jesus is genuine. He was tested and put through trials, leaving no doubt of His faith, glory, and honor. Strong’s Concordance says the word genuineness in Greek is adolos, meaning “free from fraud.” Jesus knew fraud. He experienced it. Upon His arrest, all twelve apostles fled. They failed that friend test. Imagine the betrayal Jesus felt, when just hours earlier they were all hanging out with Him, appalled at innuendos of betrayal within their circle. Jesus died for them anyway, forgiving them long before they knew to apologize. He did not let it affect who He was or what He was called to do. Aim to apply the forgiveness of failure to your friendships, and allow them to stick around long enough to travel through trials.
Erase the mistakes. Put the good back up.
Forgive and forget or forgo friendship. Jesus gets erased, but He doesn’t give up. He is repeatedly being removed by an increasingly secular society. Merium Webster’s definition of secular is: “of, relating to or controlled by the government rather than the church.” I personally don’t want to be ruled by either.
“The LORD is my strength…I WILL praise Him.”- Exodus 15:2 (emphasis added.)
“Draw the Happy Heart,” I told Brianne, “Keep putting it back up.”
It’s hard to rescind the urge to hide my child from hurt, but it’s important to pray through the appropriate times to let go and let them be lights. Though the darker side of life will attempt to snuff them out, light cannot be erased.
The joy eluded to in the verse above doesn’t just appear immediately in our hearts. We have to find it and fight for it.
“In 1Thes 5:16–18 Paul turns from instructions covering attitudes and actions toward fellow believers and other human beings to instructions dealing with attitudes toward God.” -NIV Application Commentary
What is our attitude toward God? Do we think of Him in fulfillment of those definitions of friendship above? It should be the first place our minds drift, because even secular socialites will admit the fault in humanity to execute those definitions to perfection. But Jesus did…and can…and does.
God tells us to “be joyful” not “be lemmings.” You’re stomach’s going to drop every time the heart is erased.
It’ll never feel right because we are not of this world.
You are a crack in the ice.
Humans are human. Don’t get mad at “the eraser.” Don’t let the sound of footsteps scattering break your spirit. Don’t hold any one person accountable for one Savior’s job. Don’t be naive, but your friends off the hook of perfection.
“Did you put the Happy Heart back up?” I asked one night over spaghetti and meatballs.
“Yep!” she smiled, blue eyes especially sparkling, “And he’s holding up a sign that says J.A.M.!!”
J.A.M. for Jesus And Me…She’s the proudest new member of the kids praise and worship team at church. Erase her mascot, but can’t get to her heart.
At all times, and especially in adversity. The light will fight it’s way through…the ice will crack. You needn’t look any further for the best friend you’ll ever find. It’s Jesus’ joy that cracks conformity. It’s through Him alone that we tap into the light of His Father. Lean into Him when you’re being squeezed.
In a world freezing fast…seek Him…the crack in the ice.
Posted on December 23, 2015
“Mom,” my seven-year-old began, “someone called me weird.”
The most precious pieces of my daughter’s heart fly gumptiously out of her mouth during our four weekly commutes to her dance studio. While the surge of adrenaline lingers alongside the remains of stale french fries and the screech of singing cats, she reveals the day’s truth. This day was no different. She flung her bag into the abyss of the backseat, and plopped down to catch her breath.
“Who called you weird?” I demanded.
“And Why- why did they call you that …what where you doing …when did this happen …what was your reaction…”
My mind raced alongside my blood pressure as only a mother’s does whenthe over-allotted amount of caffeine consumed that day collides with her baby enduring an injustice. In anticipation of my overprotective reaction, and predictable “turn the other cheek and be kind” lesson, she followed a quick eye-roll with profound summation beyond her years.
“I am a little weird,” she continued, “but I take it as a compliment.” I reached for the dial to turn down the “Jingle Cats.”
“What they actually mean to say is that I’m different,” she spat confidently. She lit a flattered smile and revealed, “They are actually complimenting me for being unique…and I like that.”
To think, how I might have ruined that beautiful piece of the Holy Spirit’s work with the volume of my two-sense and overprotective assault on her behalf. I felt God’s grace quicken in my heart …
“See …you’re not doing nearly as bad as you think.” Wink.The ability to maneuver the insult maze with enough agility to cast a hateful one aside is not where my natural thought progression leads me. Instead of making light of a brooding sentiment, I park the dagger at the forefront of my thoughts. Predictably, that fraction of negativity will seap into my brain via osmosis …become a truth I entertain, and argue with for the rest of the day. Jealous of my own daughter’s Christ-like attitude, God plucked me from my comparative seething and pulled up a memory from a week prior.
The memory’s light stirred my eyes back to the pages of my journal to a school day that ended in tear-stained cheeks over a recess battle of heart lost. Ah, second grade …when blurred lines so easily pull ugly pieces out of little girls’ hearts.
“It’s only going to get worse,” I explained in the best way I knew tocomfort her, “so you just have to figure out how not to let it affect you.” (Confession …I often have these moments of brilliance when trying to instill wisdom upon my daughters …and then realize as the words leave my lips that I have yet to figure out how to apply them to my own life.)
My daughter and I share a gift to illuminate the love of Jesus in each others circumstances. It’s through my earnest search of God’s Word, to be the mother than leads her to Him and His truth, that I end up stumbling upon my own in our sweet bedtime conversations.
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Matthew 10:30
“I am with you in all that you do. At home, at school, on the playground…my Presence is always with you.“Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids, Sarah Young.
It’s not uncommon for us to look up at each other jaw-dropped after we read her devo for the day. That night concluded with a peaceful dream etched on my heart. God’s Word tuned us back into alignment with His measure of our self-worth.
“It’s like God knows how many Legos I have …like He knows how many hairs are on my head,” And at that, we fell into a pile of giggles.
“Jesus and His message were rejected… In His own Hometown. Jesus was fully man and experienced human emotions. The people who had known Him since childhood rejected Him. Friend, it’s wonderful to have a Savior who knows exactly how we feel. There isn’t an emotion we experience He can’t understand.” Wendy Pope (First 5)
The babe born in a manger, grew up feeling the same aches and joys that inhabit our hearts. It’s easier to hold Jesus’ hand in secret comfort, than to face an all knowing and omnipresent God with our grievances. Christmas encompasses the great generosity of the gift of approach-ability through His Son…a love every parent can relate to …a sacrifice no one can.
The sweet smiling compassion that will sit on the level of my child’s bed and laugh with us. That is what Christmas is all about; giving generously as He gave to us. During Advent, we prepare our hearts so that there is room for the light, love, and encouragement He speaks to us in His Word.
Jesus was “the” weird one. He knew it. He embraced it. He knew what they did not… And perhaps not all that walked in His lifetime meant it as a compliment, but he wore it as one. His recorded conversations in the Word reveal humorous quips alongside wise convictions. He lived among us to save us, not so that we would spend every day drowning in self-deprecation. Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green,” but can you imagine him being any other color?
“I take being called weird as a compliment.”
A second grader’s vocabulary is still a little limited…maybe they just can’t find the word to describe how awesome my daughter is. Or, perhaps there isn’t one. Maybe the only one that fits her perfectly is…Brianne.
There’s only One who knows who we really are …and His name is Jesus. Emmanuel …”God with us.”
“Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14