On Being Present

A needed reminder from the archives.  Appropriately enough, as I head out of town.  

I realize this morning as I lay in bed, wide awake and talking to God at 3:15, that I have completely checked out on this school year.  And, ashamed as I am to admit it, I have checked out of family life in a lot of ways the past couple of months.

This year started off well.  The first month was one of our best ever.  And then some switch flipped, or a series of switches, I’m not sure….but this has been, hands down, the most challenging school year we’ve done.  Not for any one thing or subject or child, just every day a waking up and realizing we are going to fight the same battles today that we fought yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.  And I realized that at some point in the past six months, I threw up my hands in defeat and gave in to merely making it through this year, pinning all of my hopes of improvement on next year with new curriculum, new plans, and new possibilities.

As my children go through their day reminding me more and more of chickens in a barn yard – distracted, squawky, messy, and pecking a lot at each other – I wonder what on earth is missing, what am I doing wrong?  And I realize it’s me.  I’m at the table, but I’m not present.  I’m in the room, but my mind is two dozen other places.  And I believe that therein lies the answer, they sense my absence and surrender to the madness and they sense the lack of structure in spite of all the systems and structures I have in place.  They need my presence more than anything – not just physical, but mentally engaged, emotionally available.

And I believe that’s the hardest part of this.  To make myself emotionally available to people who daily have the capacity to hurt me, most often unintentionally.  To have their fleshly natures thrust in my face each moment of each day, thus baring my own sin nature as well….it’s hard.  And exhausting.  And that’s why I’ve withdrawn.  Distance is easier than dealing with it day after day after day.  And that’s a totally wrong way of handling my kids.

So, today, on this last day of the 3rd quarter of the school year, on this Leap Day 2012, we will do a little bit of school this morning, then head out on a couple of field trips.  I will do my best to engage my girls and set a new tone for the last nine weeks. I can’t pin all my hopes on next year.  Next year doesn’t need that kind of pressure.  I can only choose to be available to my family and make each day the best it can be.  And this is a scary thing to put out there.  Not only for the brutal honesty of it all, but also the accountability, because now I have to engage.  I can’t just think about it and ignore it.  I have to do it, knowing that I don’t have the emotional energy to do this day in and day out.  But God, He gives grace each day, mercies every morning.  And if He has called me to this, which I believe He has, then I can also trust Him to equip me for the task.  As I had my quiet time this morning and these thoughts all rolled around in my head, He gave me this as I opened the devotions on my phone:

“You are on the right path.  Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts.  I am leading you along the way I designed just for you.  Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking.  But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone.  Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, anymore than you can comprehend My dealings with others.  I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, moment by moment.  As I said to My disciple Peter, so I repeat to you:  Follow Me.”  ~ Jesus Calling, February 29

There will be more hard days, but my Jesus is with me, every step, and my kids deserve to have me – all of me – here with them.

For His Glory ~

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