5 Quick Questions on Parenting

Oct 29 2013

It’s time for a new edition of 5 Quick Questions.

This is my opportunity to get to know you better, and it’s one of the best things we do here because it turns out you are very good at truth-telling, friends. To those of you who used the last few volumes to delurk, it’s wonderful to meet you! And to those of you who’ve been around a while, mucking about in this space and putting your feet on the furniture? You’re always rad. Thank you.

As you may know, 5 Quick Questions can be anything from the inane What Is Your Family Booger Rule? to the more serious (and my absolute favorite because you were so deeply honest) Questions About Faith.

Today, though, I’d like to pick your parenting brains for the true, the ridiculous, and the laugh-out-loud funny.

And I have ulterior motives. I get to be on a parenting panel this week for a group of mamas with young kids. But I’ve learned over time that we are wiser together than I can ever be alone, and, while I may have one piece of the puzzle, it’s a much clearer picture when we all share our pieces. So I thought I’d ask you a few questions today that might be asked on Friday. Because if there’s one thing I’d like to give young moms, it’s more pieces of the puzzle, you know? More mamaraderie. More ways we’re in this together. More ways to find the magic in the mess and the laughter in this life. And I can do that much, much better if we work together.

OK?

OK.

Here we go.

ID-100400665 Quick Questions on Parenting

  1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be?
  2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? 
  3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? 
  4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did?
  5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting?

And here are my answers:

  1. If you could go back in time and whisper one thing to yourself when you were a parent of young ones, what would it be? 

    It surprised me when I really thought about this to discover I wouldn’t whisper any of the things I didn’t know. Or tell Younger Me any of the things that would surprise me. I guess because I wouldn’t want to spoil my story, you know? I wouldn’t want to give away all the wonder or the discoveries or even the deep pain of having it all fall apart and the hard work of assembling this life. 

    I suppose I would hug me and burst into tears and make myself terribly uncomfortable by being emotionally demonstrative, but what I’d really want me to know is it’s going to be OK. I’m going to be OK. These tiny people I love are going to be OK. I mean, deeply OK. Not AWESOME. Not PERFECT. Really an utter mess some days. And still somehow OK. And enough. And even good. I’d tell myself that the feeling of inadequacy isn’t the same as being inadequate and that eventually I’ll learn the difference. I’d whisper that the little bit I can do at one time, the small person I can be, is enough. And is valuable. And is useful. And is deeply worthy of being loved and deeply able to give that love to others.

  2. What’s one change you’ve made in your parenting or your house or yourself that’s allowed you to breathe easier? 

    Learning to laugh at the chaos and the destruction. I know; I wish I had something profound to say, too, but there it is.

  3. Comparison. Blerg. What’s your strategy for not comparing yourself to other moms or your kids to theirs? 

    For me, I find that outing myself as a total raging mess helps. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it helps me find my people, you know? Like, when I talk about having a less-than-perfect morning or about my dress unraveling in the parking lot, I find a lot of other moms who are willing to admit their own awesome, often ridiculous, messes. And that’s where we find our Village, I think; when we sit in the mud together. 

    As far as comparing my kids to other kids, well, that’s harder. We’ve struggled with everything from developmental delays to the more typical, um, attitude issues (*ahem* in myself and the kids), and I find when I’m comparing my kids to others, I’m usually trying rather desperately to process my own grief. Grief that things are harder for my kid than for typical kids. Grief that things are harder for me. So it helps for me to name that, you know? It helps me not to be bitter that things seem to go so swimmingly for other parents when I name my grief and allow myself to be sad.

  4. What’s one of the funniest things your children ever did? 

    Oh, geez. One? 

    I’m going to have to go with the time my kid punched another kid in the nuts but only because he cares about justice. Or the time my boys had a contest to see how high they could fill the bathtub with pee. Or the time they learned about the Archimedes Principle. Or the time they all took a dump under the front porch. Oooh! Or the time they got kicked out of the church Christmas program! Or the time they stayed in the program and flipped everyone off. Or… OK, I can’t possibly pick only one.

  5. But how do you keep your sense of humor during the tough patches of parenting? 

    Practice. Lots and lots of practice. 

    And having pretty literally All of My Stuff irretrievably wrecked. Like, past all repair. ‘Cause when there’s nothing left to ruin, it’s hard to maintain the mad.

………

ID-10040066

Your turn. How do you answer these 5 Quick Questions? Remember, you don’t have to answer them all if you don’t want to; this is always challenge by choice. I can’t wait to see what you have to say.

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40DaysofGraceLogoYou can see all of the 40 Days of Grace posts
here on the Five Kids blog and here on Facebook.

Open Hand With Glove image credit Ambro via freedigitalimages.net

If You Don’t Make Your Kids Sign This for Halloween, You Don’t Care About Fair Compensation or Childhood Obesity

Oct 28 2013

Five kids is a lot of kids and that means, no matter how frugal (read: utterly cheap) we try to be, birthday parties and Christmas presents and Easter baskets and, oh dear Lord, school fundraisers make our bank balances weep with the pain of it all.

But there’s one time of year when we make it all back, baby! And that time is here.

photo (3).PNGI’m talking, of course, about Halloween. Because five kids is a lot of kids and we’re raising them to be a candy gathering machine.

Now, I realize there’s some debate over whether kids should get to keep their own candy, how much they can eat, and whether they’re required to share with their parents. And I’ve heard persistent rumors there are parents who sneak bits of candy here and there, dipping hands stealthily into the kids’ buckets throughout Halloween night, stealing a steady stream on the nights that follow, and hoping not to be discovered with chocolate breath or a green tongue or in the act of hasty chewing behind the kitchen door.

Well, it’s time to come clean, parents. All the way out of the candy-stealing closet. It’s time to stand up for ourselves and demand our rights, because you know what? Kids can’t do this trick-or-treat thing without us. That’s right. We’re a critical part of the plan! And it’s time we’re paid a fair in-kind wage for services rendered.

You know what else? There’s an obesity epidemic in this country. It would be irresponsible for us to allow our kids to eat all their own candy. We are helping them, and they need to know it so they understand we are here for them in real and practical ways.

And so, because we must work together to promote fair working conditions and the good health of our children, I strongly urge you to sit down with your family before Halloween night and sign this agreement.

………

A Halloween Agreement for More Acceptable Working Conditions
made this 31st day of October, 2013
between the Children and the Parents

WHEREAS the Children are unable to trick-or-treat without the Parents; and WHEREAS the Parents, due to unfair social and cultural constraints, are unable to trick-or-treat by themselves;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of mutual undertakings, the parties herein agree to the following:

SECTION 1: the Parents will perform the roles of costume designer, make-up artist, hairstylist, safety patrol officer, and manners coach.

SECTION 2: the Children will perform the role of trick-or-treator.

SECTION 3: the Children will acquire an obscene amount of candy.

SECTION 4: the Children will share, without objection or complaint, all candy with the Parents.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties herein have executed this agreement the date first written above.

________________________________________
Parent(s)

________________________________________
Child(ren)

……….

So, folks. What do you do for Halloween? Trick-or-treat? Go to harvest parties, instead? Stay home and turn off all the lights?

And, if you’re out canvasing the neighborhood like we are, what do you do about all the CANDY? We dump it all in a pile when we get home, let each kid pick 15 pieces to put in a bag to save, freeze everything with caramel in it – because YUM – and the rest is for everyone to share. Which means we dole it out to the kids as we feel so inclined, and Greg and I (emphasis on “I”) eat WAY TOO MUCH every night after the kids go to bed. :/ I’ll admit, it’s a system that could use a little work.

Dadsaster’s 10 Things New Dads Need to Know

Oct 27 2013

ParentingandImperfectionLogoWelcome to our guest post series on Parenting and Imperfection.

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Mark Staufer and Bryan Erwin, the hilarious and honest dads behind the weekly tell-it-like-it-is Dadsaster podcasts, to this space.

Every week, Dadsaster brings together some pretty remarkable people like The BloggessThe Honest ToddlerJim Gaffigan, Frank Caliendo and many, many more to discuss a huge range of topics, some of which even matter. To tell you the truth, I have no idea how they justify including me in the bunch, but I’m always thrilled to hide from my kids in the bathroom and take Dadsaster’s call while sitting on the floor of my shower in my nightgown because it turns out I’m ALWAYS dressed perfectly for audio.

You know, there are a lot of dads who read over here, and a lot of folks without kids, too, and you’ve taught me a critical lesson over time, which is this: anytime we are honest out loud — any time we are imperfect and beautiful and messed up and ridiculous and broken and mended — we are describing the human condition.

Not the mommy condition.

Or the parenting condition.

Just the human condition with all its gory and glory mixed up together.

And that’s exactly what Mark and Bryan understand. That this is about all of us. Their show is funny first and dad-centric, and then it’s a sneak attack of smart, witty and endearing. They walk the fine line that balances awesome humor, telling the truth and treating people’s stories well. I like them. And I know you will, too.

Beth

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Dadsaster logo coffee

DADSASTER’s 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW AS A NEW DAD,
BUT PROBABLY WON’T BE TOLD…

One of the reasons BETH has been a guest on the DADSASTER podcast more than any other mom is because she tells the truth.  Her family life is like ours — a wondrous, mystical, accident-prone, each-day-as-it-comes, warts-and-all work in progress. And she courageously spills the beans on every aspect of it.

When it came to us doing a podcast for NEW DADS — we just had to have BETH back as one of our guests. (You can find the podcast here or go to Dadsaster.com.)

In the meantime, if you’re about to become a father for the first time — here are 10 things MARK & BRYAN from Dadsaster really believe you should know.

1. No-One Ever Dies on the Drive Home from the Hospital — yes, it’ll be the most excruciating journey of your life with the delicate new cargo, and the partner-in-pain, but trust us, those other drivers are not out to get you, and you’ll all arrive home beautifully. You’ll be back to your Nascar ways soon enough.

2. Your New Reality is Crappy — poop will be a main topic of conversation from now on, and you’ll be covered in the stuff on a daily basis. As well as vomit. Oh, and breast-milk. Together they will be your new cologne — Eau de Squirt.

3. Moms Have This Intuition Thing, and So Do Dads — if either of you think something’s wrong with your little critter, trust your instincts and seek help. In the first instance, ask other parents, or your parents. Or even her parents.

4. Don’t Have Visitors — for a while, your entertaining days are over. It’s nice to have people drop-off meals, but that doesn’t mean you have to invite them in. If you do, make sure they wash their hands.

5. Sex Is Off the Menu — yup, sorry, those breasts are no longer exclusively yours. Actually, they’re exclusively someone else’s.  And the last thing she’ll probably want is a bit of slap-and-tickle. She may even be blaming you for the stretch-marks and the sore nipples. She may even slap you, sans the tickle.

6. Babies Are Not As Delicate and Fragile As You Think —  accidents can happen, but don’t freak-out. Just like you, these little critters are resilient. We’re not saying you can leave baby alone in the bath or play rough-and-tumble just yet, but remember, meanwhile in Mali, newborns are being strapped onto backs and walked across deserts to oases. With camels.

7. Your Friends Don’t Like You Anymore — your mates without kids now have absolutely nothing in common with you. You need to make new friends. Dad-friends. Reach out to them, we’re not so bad, although we do tend to smell of poop, vomit and breast-milk.

8. You’re Going To Be Tired Forever — kids are a pretty full-time occupation. When they begin sleeping through the night, you start lying awake worrying about them even more. Those dark circles are here to stay.

9. They Like Her More Than You — this is what babies do: eat, sleep, cry, poop. You’ll be in charge of the pooping, sleeping and crying equations. And baby still won’t even recognize you. But don’t give-up — you’ll be forming a powerful bond with the little critter that’ll pay dividends. One day they’ll actually look at you, smile deliciously and say those magic words, “Dad? Can I borrow the car-keys?”

10. It’s OK To Feel Overwhelmed — any parent who tells you they don’t think about killing their kid at least three times a day is lying. As a new dad, or mom, you do not need to feel guilty about these thoughts. We promise you — you’ll cope, and you’ll do an amazing job. Remember, it gets better. And then worse. And then better, and then… And then eventually, they’ll be the ones changing your diapers.

……….

Dadsaster logo coffeeFor more parenting and fatherhood tips, humor and conversation, tune in to the weekly DADSASTER podcast with hosts Mark Staufer and Bryan Erwin.

You’ll be glad you did.

And psst… a brand new Dadsaster podcast – What New Dads Need to Know – is out today. I’m on it.

Technically, I should know what I said since I was present via phone at the time of recording, but it was a day off school and, as ALL THE CHILDREN WERE HOME needing things like toast and a referee, I hadn’t managed to army crawl my way to the coffee pot yet. Your guess is as good as mine, is what I’m saying; it’s all a blur.

But if someone (*ahem* bryan *ahem*) should make fun of my laugh after I hang up, I’d just like to point out that if these 2 guys weren’t so funny I wouldn’t laugh like an idiot the entire time.

……….

You can see all of the Parenting and Imperfection posts here.

Parenting for the Win

Oct 26 2013

I’ve been parenting for the win a lot lately, and I just thought I’d share a couple things I’m doing exceptionally well so you can follow my example and better your parenting, too.

First, I accused my teenager of acting like a 5-year-old because she didn’t want to come out of her room for, you know, the whole weekend, so I was feeling rejected, hurt and powerless, and also the tiniest bit premenstrually enraged, and that’s always the best time to accuse others. That’s when she told me she was staying in her room because she was in a bad mood and didn’t want to take it out on others “since that’s what you say to do, Mom; if you can’t be kind, take some time alone until you can.”  

photo 2 (47)Ahhhh, crap.

And SHOOT.

This is also why I say to do what I say and not what I do. Because my ideas are WAY better than my execution, man.

So there was that for the parenting win.

And then my dad-in-law with his new bum shoulder needed some help moving boxes, and we happen to have a strapping 13 year old boy with excellent shoulders, a desperate need for activity and structure, and a frequently questionable work ethic. PERFECT. So Greg hollered down the stairs, “Hey, Ian?”

“What?” Ian hollered back, ’cause we’re one of those strict don’t-yell-in-the-house families.

“Grandpa’s gotta move some boxes toda…” and Greg didn’t even get through the sentence before that kid started yelling, “NOOOOOOOO! No! No! NOOOOOOOO!” And MAN that made me mad.

Spitting mad.

Minus the spitting because I’m not much of a spitter.

But brain-whirling mad, for sure.

I had so many thoughts in my brain, in fact, that they all backed up and I couldn’t figure out which one to yell first. Like, “Oh HELL no, kid. When someone in our family needs help, we do NOT start bellowing NO.” Or, “You get your little rear in gear right now, pal. And when you’re done helping Grandpa move boxes, I’ll give you some extra work so you can practice having a decent attitude about it.” Or, “GAH! WHY CAN’T YOU STOP BEING SUCH A TOTAL BUTT NUGGET?!”

You know, brain-whirling mad.

Which is when that same kid – the kid with expressive language disorder who takes some time to get his words out – finished his “NOOOOOOOO! No! No! NOOOOOOOO!” thought with, “NO! Grandpa should not do that! I’m strong. I go help him right now!”

Mm hm.

Misjudge your kids much, Beth?

Pffftttt.

In conclusion, I hate it when my children are more mature than me. It really bites, you know?

B

……….

Please feel free to join me this fine weekend and share your Parenting Wins, as well. Misery loves company. I swear.

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40DaysofGraceLogoYou can see all of the 40 Days of Grace posts
here on the Five Kids blog and here on Facebook.

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Whatever You Do, Do It With All Your Heart

Oct 24 2013

I had to go to the bathroom all afternoon but I waited because I’m a mom and we never go potty on time, and also because I was replying to comments from yesterday’s post.

But at the 3rd comment – the third – justifying the continued use of the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin” because of child abuse and human trafficking and child porn, my brain popped. My jaw was on the floor. Because do we really think that clinging to phrases like “love the sinner, hate the sin” helps combat trafficking? And abuse? And porn? Are we making that argument now? That slinging “love the sinner, hate the sin” is going to protect the defenseless and champion the marginalized and bring justice and mercy to people crying out in pain? Seriously?

I worked myself up into quite the angry tizzy fit, friends.

It was spectacular!

Why? Why? WHY? I kept saying in my mind. And I had a thousand thousand responses to make, all of which were brilliant and made important points and were pithy, and, OK, maybe the tiniest bit pissy and not very Love People Different Than Me, but GAH! I’M RIGHT and THEY’RE WRONG! And RED HERRINGS! And I WAS TALKING ABOUT BEING ON CULTURAL SIN WATCH, NOT INSTITUTIONALIZED EVIL!

Which is when I sneezed and wet my pants.

Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” And I want you to know, I wet my pants like I meant it.

The End

P.S. Sometimes Jesus has a weird sense of humor. Thanks a lot, Jesus.

P.P.S. For people concerned about issues like human trafficking, I encourage you to check out the work of International Justice Mission.

3 Reasons I Quit Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin

Oct 23 2013

I can’t do it anymore.

I can’t Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin.

In fact, I haven’t done that for years.

I’m writing as a Jesus follower to fellow Christians here, and also to, oh, whoever else wants to listen in, fly-on-the-wall style, as I put down my fork at family dinner and stare at the table and wipe my mouth and swallow the lump in my throat and whisper, “Enough.”

And say a little louder, “Hey, guys? I don’t really buy what we’re selling.”

And sigh with a giant “ppffffttt” to be mature.

Because, enough already. It’s time to lose this phrase. For good.

But how shall we do it?

I know! Let’s turn it into a flea – a harmless little flea – and then we’ll put that flea in a box and then we’ll put that box inside another box, and we’ll mail that box to ourselves, and when it arrives? WE’LL SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER.

Yes?

Yes!

Oh. Not that easy?

SHOOT.

Alright, then. I’ll explain myself.

See, once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I believed in Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin as though it was the Gospel Truth. And the Word of God. And the Obvious Way to Love People while holding fiercely and unapologetically to the Path of Righteousness. To the Narrow Way.

But then I noticed that Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin had the opposite effect of what I intended. That, rather than feel loved, the folks at whom I was aiming it felt belittled. And judged. And hurt. And excluded.

So for a while, in good ideological, rule-following fashion, I tried to make that their problem.

I mean, knew I was being loving. It’s right there at the beginning of the phrase, for God’s sake: LOVE. So if they were intent on misinterpreting my love, was there really anything I could do about that?

But something about my friends’ hurt stuck in my heart and something about my insistent defensiveness caught there, too, and, although I tried, I couldn’t dislodge or ignore them. I kept imagining Jesus on the night before his crucifixion, on the night he was betrayed by one friend and abandoned by others, and I kept thinking about the way he used his time to give just one instruction: Love one another.1 That’s what Jesus felt was the Most Important Thing to drive home the night before his death. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I kept wondering, when we say we Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin, do they know we are Christians by our love? And the answer I kept circling back to was No. A sad, aching Definitely Not. A certain No Way.

So I began to explore my increasing discomfort with Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin. To examine why I felt more and more ashamed when I held it as my rigid standard of love. To wonder where I was right and where I was wrong and where I needed to make amends. And to ask Love, which is God’s other name,7 to guide me.

And then, as always, Love changed everything, starting with my heart.

Along the way, I realized 3 things about Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin that made it impossible for me to parrot it any longer. Here they are:

3 Reasons I Quit Loving the Sinner and Hating the Sin

1. Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin isn’t in the Bible. It’s a quote from St. Augustine, actually, “cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum,” which translates roughly to “with love for mankind and hatred of sins,” and it has morphed over the centuries from Augustine calling himself out and hating his own sins, which he describes in depth in his Confessions, into something we use to point fingers at others.

And although he and I don’t agree on everything, Tony Campolo spoke my heart when he said, “I’m always uptight when someone says, ‘You don’t understand. I love the sinner. I just hate his sin.’ And my response is: That’s interesting, because that’s the exact opposite of what Jesus says. Jesus never says, ‘Love the sinner but hate his sin. Jesus says, ‘Love the sinner and hate your own sin, and after you get rid of the sin in your own life, then you may begin talking about the sin in your brother or sister’s life.2‘”

2. “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” is made of 25% Love and 75% Sinner, Hate and Sin. And that ratio should tell us something. In fact, that ratio is the antithesis of Jesus’ life, Jesus’ words, Jesus’ actions, and Jesus’ friendships.

Does it really come as a surprise to us Christians that a phrase made of 1 Part Love and 3 Parts Sinner, Hate and Sin has failed rather spectacularly to deliver a love message? Because it’s not a love message, of course, despite what we tell ourselves. It’s a Standards message. A Moral Code message. And a big, giant BUT. We will love you, it says, BUT we will call you Sinner and watch you carefully to determine which of your actions are Sin so we can call you out and Hate those things.

Is it any wonder to us that the love message gets lost in there? Or that we’re missing the mark when we’re more concerned with holding people to a high moral standard than we are with loving them?

It’s OK, though, we say, because we call ourselves Sinners, too! See? We’re not saying we’re any less sinful. THAT’S THE JOY, we cry. That Christ has saved us from our sin. And don’t get me wrong, friends. I believe absolutely that I’m BOTH created in God’s own image,8 worthy of Divine Love just the way I am,9 AND that I sin. But here’s the problem. We act like the redemption message is predicated on being pulled out of the Sin Pit, and that it’s our job to make sure people understand they’re in the Pit, even if we have to pull them down and squash them into the mud for a while to make sure they get it. But what if we believe that the redemption message is predicated on Love? Divine Love. Selfless Love. Gracious Love. Love, love and only love? A Love so big and wild and free it embraces us as we are?

What if we, I don’t know, call people Beloved instead of Sinner? You know, as if we believe that “God SO LOVED the world He sent his son” instead of “God so despised sin…”

3. Jesus taught us to call people Neighbors,3 not Sinners.

Now, it’s not like Jesus was against name-calling or anything. He slung around Hypocrite, Fool and Brood of Vipers with the best of them.4  But I find it fascinating that Jesus reserved his name-calling for the religious community and never for the broken down or broken hearted. Never for the excluded. Never for the lonely. Never for the outcasts.

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t tell us to love the sinner; Jesus tells us to love our neighbor.3 And then Jesus goes on to define our neighbors as those who are despised, rejected, excluded, ignored, and bullied.

Instead, time and time again, Jesus invites sinners to dinner,5 and accepts the offerings of prostitutes,6 and defends the most marginalized,3 and scatters the crowd that is intent on making the convicted woman pay for her sins.2

Now, at this point, some of you may be thinking, “But wait! The woman who was about to be stoned was told ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ but Jesus also told her to, ‘Go and sin no more.’ So what about that? What about repentance?” And, in fact, when I wrote recently about Sanctuary – about finding rest in little bits of Love that fall as steadily as rain but only hit us drop by drop – I received 4 separate messages from folks along these lines, all of whom noted this. “You’re not sharing the whole picture,” they wrote. “Jesus said to sin no more!”

And that’s true. That’s what happened.

[The crowd] said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. [The Law] commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus … said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” 2

And here’s what I think we Christians keep missing in this story:

Jesus defended the woman from the crowd. Dare I say it? Jesus defended the woman from us. The Righteous Stone Throwers. Jesus sent us away. And then Jesus – and only Jesus, without the crowd there at all – told her to sin no more. You know why? Because it’s Love’s job – and only Love’s job – to change people’s hearts. Jesus never – not even once – tells the crowd to tell the woman to go and sin no more. Because it’s not our job, folks.

At no time are we, the crowd, instructed to point out the woman’s sin.

At no time are we, the crowd, encouraged to exclude the woman.

At no time does Jesus beckon the crowd back and say, “I told her to sin no more, now you go tell people not to sin, too.”

The only instruction that we, the crowd, receive from Jesus is to examine our own lives for sin.

We usurp Love’s place and screw it all up when we pretend it’s our job to identify others’ sins and take it upon ourselves to tell them to knock it off.

the-good-samaritan-ferdinand-hodlerYou know what Jesus does tell the crowd over and over (and over and over) again? Throughout all of the Gospels? Jesus tells us to Love each other. To Love our neighbors. And that everyone is our neighbor.

This is no time for calling out sinners and sin. This is the time to call out Neighbor! And Friend! And to love on each other with extravagant grace. This is the time to create Sanctuary and to be the Good Samaritan who had no standards when he helped the man by the side of road.3 Just none. Except generosity and love.

And so, you see, it turns out I cannot love the sinner and hate the sin, because it’s not my job to root out either one in anyone’s life but my own. But I can become a home for Love, and I can Love my Neighbor, who, it turns out, is every single one of us.

And that is exactly what I plan to do.

……….

UPDATE: I’ve written an update to this essay. You can find it here.

………

Alright, friends. What do you think? Is this on the mark? Or did I miss it by a mile? Agreements and disagreements welcome. I’d truly love to know your thoughts.

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40DaysofGraceLogoYou can see all of the 40 Days of Grace posts
here on the Five Kids blog and here on Facebook.

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1 John 13
2  John 8
3 Luke 10
 Matthew 23
5 Mark 2
6  Luke 7
1 John 4
8 Genesis 1
9 Romans 5, 8

Art Credit: The Good Samaritan by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

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UPDATE: I’ve written an update to this essay. You can find it here.

Radical Acts of Self Care

Oct 22 2013

Anne Lamott talks from time to time about radical acts of self care.

BettyLou

Or maybe it’s Oprah.

Or Betty Lou from Sesame Street who’s one of the spiritual gurus of our time with her calm focus on kindness and sharing and befriending our fellow monsters.

A wise woman said it, anyway, except I feel they should be called RADICAL ACTS of SELF CARE, like that, in bold and all caps so we might announce them in our 1950’s-style Broadcaster Voice when they descend from the sky like super heroes to save us from ourselves.

What’s that?
Up in the sky!
Why…
it’s a RADICAL ACT of SELF CARE!

And then we can clutch our hearts and swoon theatrically to give our acts of valor the adoration and attention they deserve.

Today, for example, I engaged in two whole Radical Acts of Self Care, and they were worthy of some theatrical clutching and adoration for sure.

Today,

1.      I went to the bathroom at the very first sign that I needed to go,
and
2.      I drank my entire cup of coffee while it was still warm.

I know. Not to be braggy, but I really did.

Furthermore, during both acts, I sat all the way down, and I focused on them ‘til I was done.

Call me a liar if you must, but for five whole minutes – the duration of two Radical Acts – I didn’t read anyone a Clifford story. Or Berenstain Bears. Or Franklin. Or play Legos or blocks or trains where my legs are the tunnels and someone’s noggin hits me – KAPOW! – in the crotch bone.

For five minutes, I didn’t balance my checkbook.

For five minutes, I didn’t sign a permission slip

For five minutes, I didn’t referee a fight or kiss a boo boo or braid my daughter’s crunchy, candy-coated hair.

I didn’t holler reminders to “Hurry up or we’ll be late for school!” And I didn’t visit the Pioneer Woman or the Bloggess or Facebook – not even once.

For five whole minutes, I did two radical things, and, although I had an attentive audience for one, I managed to do the other all by myself without the usual cast of thousands sitting at my feet on the sticky floor waiting anxiously for me to finish. Drinking that cup of coffee alone was like a miracle.

The truth is, I like Radical Acts of Self Care far more than Me Time even if that’s just semantics. It’s just that Me Time never manages to show up at my house without a little person clinging desperately to one leg and my mama guilt clinging harder to the other. I’ve tried Me Time – I have – and it’s like the Agony and the Ecstasy, except mostly agony which makes it hardly worth inviting over. I end up feeling more selfish than refreshed, and I, frankly, do not have the time for that much angst.

Radical Acts of Self Care, on the other hand, are small gifts I can give to myself; random kindnesses, silly victories and breaths of air in the middle of the madness. They’re opportunities for grace, and they come with tiny bits of optimism and caffeine stuffed in their pockets like the hard candies Earl sneaks the kids at church on Sunday.

We were late for school this morning, FYI, by five minutes.

Five minutes and two radical acts that were totally worth it.

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And so I throw down the gauntlet and challenge YOU to a RADICAL ACT OF SELF-CARE. What silly victory will you have today? What breath in the middle of the madness? What opportunity for grace? Will you share it with us?

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I originally wrote this for Families in the Loop.
Republished here with permission as part of:

40DaysofGraceLogoYou can see all of the 40 Days of Grace posts
here on the Five Kids blog and here on Facebook.