Love is Your Destiny

At the end of summer, as we send our kids off and place them in the care of others, we have an opportunity to reflect. They have ventured into a new grade, a new age, or season. They are now easier to handle, and somehow more impossible than ever. But the beginning of the school year is good for this, to reflect on the summer, and remember the fun and growth we had as a family, even if it wasn’t so much fun or as much growth as we had hoped.

Hindsight makes our memories the best kind of cloudy. Doesn’t it? And that’s what I see today, Cotton-Candy-cloud kind of memories. They are sweet and have soft, pillowy edges.

One of these, oh-so-dear moments came just before we left for our trip to Haiti.

We had everything packed and ready. We were leaving our house at a very early hour to get on that plane. On any other Saturday morning, my kids would still be sleeping. But this was different. They had a gift for us. They wanted to wish us well. They knew how far away we’d be. They knew we would see some tough things, and so they wanted to say goodbye, and pray for us.

For real. I don’t deserve these tiny people.

We shut our eyes as they prepared their gift. And when we opened them, there before us was a little sign that said, “Haiti”, with tribal lettering detailed by a seven and nine year old.

Just in front of that was a re-purposed Altoid box, covered with construction paper, graffiti-ed with hearts and stars. As we opened them, soft, folded up papers slipped out and floated to the ground. As I picked one up and opened it, I read the words, “Love is your destiny.”

In these boxes, one each for my husband and me, they had come up with words of encouragement that would help get us through our trip. I almost died drowning in a puddle of my own proud tears. They outdid every gift I’ve ever given them. Except life. I still have them there, well, me, my husband and the Creator. It was a joint effort really. 

Somewhere along the way, as I read those notes all week, staring at orphans and missing my own kids in the process,  guilt started stealing my joy over this sweet gift.

I know. Sometimes I annoy myself.

As a result, I stumbled into Self-evaluation that breeds doubt and condemnation (lies of the enemy). It went like this:

Me: I need to be better at giving them thoughtful gifts of encouragement. It’s what I love to do, so why don’t I do it more for my own children? I should return this gift to them in the same manner they’ve given to me.  I should always be doing everything for them first before I do it for anyone else. I should quit everything else I’m doing and start working on some of those projects I pinned on my Pinterest boards. I should really, I could really be such a better mom. Also, I should adopt this sibling set from Haiti. 

I realize I'm spiraling. This is non-sense (maybe not the adoption part) and guilt-laden speech, I understand, even as it’s entering my mind. Do you notice all the “shoulds” in that statement? Never a good sign.

Recognizing these thoughts for what they are leads to honest and surrendered prayer: 

Me again: Lord! These kids, man! It’s so hard and then so beautiful almost in the same breath. It’s hard to love it all, all the time. And I’m starting to understand as they age, and I age, and we grow up together, that maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. (Hello, epiphany.)  I just don’t want to mess them up, ya know?  I don't feel like I quite deserve the credit for the kind of mom they think I am. Teach me, Lord, how to be better, so I’m not grasping at straws, or pinning on boards what I think is best for my kids. I don’t want my best for them. I want your best for them.

And then my answer comes, by the Truth and Encouragement of the Holy Spirit:

Erin, receive my grace for you. They have seen the many ways you’ve encouraged them to keep going even when loving yourself and others is hard. They see you turning to the same place every day to find hope and freedom. They see you, spending yourself on behalf of the poor, bringing them and others into freedom through Jesus Christ, looking toward the suffering in this world, and bearing one another’s burdens in love.  Doing this with joy will cause them to do the same. 
Keep going. Keep telling them and showing them, ‘Love is your destiny’, by living out your own destiny of Love. Then they will be destined to repeat it.
Because, Erin, they have the same cloudy memory when it comes to your love. It’s the same for them as it is for you.  Your mistakes as a parent gives them cotton-candy-clouded memories too, it comes by way of confession and repentance. 

 Holy Lord! Can I get an, “Amen!”?

I needed that, we need that sometimes--for the Lord to just walk us down off the ledge of quitting everything we love and hope to do in this life in the name of what we think will make us a “better” mom.  

Soak in those candy coated memories. Put on those rose-colored glasses. Receive all the love and grace. You’re doing great, and so are they. Love is still your destiny.