Saturday, December 20, 2014

Nothing But Yes

My nearly teenager announces that she wants to redesign her room. (She merely wants all the furniture in a different location, so this costs me nothing.) As she's broadcasting her plans to destroy my carefully balanced layout of her beautiful room (there's even an accent wall of dark green), I remember a wise comment by a great mother that the secret of parenting teens is to "say yes as much as possible." She advised me that "saying yes as much as possible" builds a great rapport between mothers and daughters.

I think that the "no" really matters and means something when it's not overused.

I say, "Yes! Of course!" I hide all my interior warnings of accent walls, poor lighting, and symmetry.

So I stand there in the bedroom as the tornado of furniture, clothing, and bedding flies about. I'm there to help; I offer no commentary except supportive statements. I give her full artistic control.

This nearly does me in.

To contain my controlling tendencies, I vacuum three years worth of dust under her bedside tables that I never thought to move. Maybe I don't have everything in order, after all. The dust stares me down, mocking.

Meanwhile, she's taking over. She's dominating her space as she should. She's got full artistic control, as she should. As she should.

It's a breakthrough. This is her space; this is her life. When it's all over, she calls the whole family in to see her work. She feels so good in her new space, and I feel so good that I didn't disempower her.

Maybe she'll remember the day her otherwise controlling mother (who's changing by God's power) stood in the center of her teenage tornado and said nothing but Yes!

Friday, December 19, 2014

What She Wants to Be When She Grows Up: More Wisdom From Children

A new young 4th grader comes to visit us yesterday, and as I'm getting to know her, I ask all the usual questions. We talk about hobbies she enjoys and music she loves, but then we start talking about talents and dreams. I ask, "So what do you want to be when you grow up?"

I'm remembering all the standard answers that have everything to do with importance, money, or fame. I think about the other categories of dreams I hear about that always launch the child into a life of excitement and adventure.

But this little one tilts her head up, closes her eyes in thought, and finally says, "A great friend." She slips off the counter stool and goes on her merry way.

When she grows up, she knows she'll really be something if she's a great friend. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Bizarre Spiritual Analogy

I'm cutting a red onion for a Greek salad, and my eyes burn like never before. I'm experiencing the sulfuric gas that creates a mild acid in my eyes. Chopping onions offers this unfortunate side effect that cooks do unusual things to avoid.

I've heard everything from chopping onions underwater to whistling so you direct the airflow away from your face. Some people freeze the onions first. Others chop onions near a steaming pot of hot water. Still others wear goggles.

If you want those onion slices, you need to deal with what comes with their use.

I know it's probably the strangest comparison I've made in years, but I stood by my sink and thought of the unfortunate side effects that come when I'm used in some way.

When publishers call (Which they have!) or book sales keep on the rise (Which they are! Thank you!), I immediately feel the old temptations of self-importance and the allure of influence. I'm chopping that onion, and what rises up from its use burns. It doesn't bless.

It's not pleasing. It's not good.

I think of the pleasing aroma that rises up to God with every sacrifice in scripture. I want my life and work to rise up like a pleasing aroma to God. As the onion's gasses rise, I think about what it takes to transform them and manage them. Most experts use water to subdue those gases. They drench the onion in it. They submerge the onion it. They intercept every rising gas with it with.

Oh, the Living Water that takes whatever I offer and subdues the negative side effects that come, aided by the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are onions to be drenched in God's word, submerged deeply into a life of confession and repentance, and intercepted with every use by God's glory and not our own.

Otherwise, what we offer the world--what rises up from our life's work--burns more than it blesses.