There’s a song on Casting Crown’s current CD, "The Alter and the Door", that haunts me. "Slow Fade".
In a nutshell, "Slow Fade" is about compromise and consequence. Considering the repercussions to my own poor decisions is enough to cripple me at times, but that general theme isn’t what troubles me most in these wise lyrics.
It’s the title of this post, "…families never crumble in a day…".
The line is sung just once, at the end of the song…yet in hearing those words, every time, I’m left wondering about the steps that lead up to any family falling apart. Realizing mine is just as vulnerable as any other is sobering.
My mind reels from the speed of flying time, reluctantly accepting that we’re raising our children for someone else; doing our best to shape and encourage them to become independent, well-adjusted young adults…now, while we still have the greatest influence over them. Now, while they’re still living at home.
But families never crumble in a day…
My prayers for them–if not out loud, at least in heart–take on a mask of desperation. The children often hear me pray these types of things during our morning devotion–"God reveal yourself in your word, give us understanding…draw us to know you better so we can love you more…help us love others in a way that draws them back to you…help us be more concerned about what You think than what others think…guard our hearts, our minds, our words…".
Sometimes I don’t feel like having a morning devotion with them; most days, I suppose, they’d rather skip it (they’re 10, 13 & 15). I’ve talked to them about it, asked why they think I continue to begin our day like this. Their barbed response? "So we could check it off, just so we could say we do it every day."
For the umpteenth time, it seems, I explained why we do this: because we begin our day with reading a devotion/Scripture and praying, it demonstrates the value we place on our relationship with God (how can we know Him if we don’t spend time with Him?), and I HOPE it orients their minds so that throughout their day as they have to make choices, they’ll choose well, honoring God in the process. Will it keep them from gossip? Will it cause them to be a friend to someone who needs one? When faced with even more adult, difficult choices, will they remember?
…but families never crumble in a day…
That explanation made sense to them. It removed any legalistic attachment, and they agreed with the rationale. They may not be begging to do this each morning, but it’s clear they anticipate it and would feel like something was missing if we didn’t. And I’m smiling as I write this, but if they have tests or sports events or a friend in need? They wanna pray about it.
Our children attend a Christian school; we attend church faithfully and serve in various ministries; we practice hospitality by having people in our home as often as possible; we pray with our kids; dozens of Christian books can be found in just about every room in our house; we have Scripture prints hanging on the walls; my husband and I try to model a working faith in our marriage and in our relationships with others; I’ve shared with them how I’ve seen God at work in my own life, particularly in recent years.
The frightening thing is there are no guarantees. None. Haven’t you witnessed kids from "good" families who make horrible choices that rock their family’s world, sometimes destroying it? Or the opposite, children from disturbingly dysfunctional families who rise above their circumstances and end up making wise decisions that position them for future success–in dating/marriage, career, their own families.
Parenting is difficult. Parenting well is even more difficult.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and she shared her heart–how she feels like she’s "losing" her children already–and they’re 10 and younger! While recognizing positives in their character, she’s seen stubborn hearts brimming with pride or deceit or a short temper, and while she gives mental assent to "kids will be kids" (and sin nature), her heart is assaulted with words like "failure" and "bad mom".
Can’t so many of us relate? We see our own flaws as moms, as wives, as friends…and as daughters of the King (I’m well acquainted with every one of mine). In light of self awareness, we find fault with ourselves for the sins of our children.
In talking with my friend, I shared my most recent "failure"–over the weekend my husband and I wanted to do something together as a family. It was the rare weekend where nothing was planned, not even kids’ ballgames. We drove to a nearby park, the kind with wide open spaces and winding trails, one that sits adjacent to a river and whispers a siren’s call, "C o m e" to anyone who has ears to hear.
Let me back up…this was Sunday. Saturday, we had spent much of the day doing our own thing, all at home, but in separate corners. Me, reading or writing or I’m sure, laundry; Tad, house or yard projects; the kids, tv or electronics. Sunday, Tad and I both must have felt the same, because when he suggested a family outing, I jumped quickly.
A nagging, three-word thought tapped me on the shoulder, one I tried to ignore, but it was persistent–"Don’t…waste…time…", and I thought about all the ways I do that very thing, all the opportunities that escape me with regard to my children, and weren’t they still toddlers just five minutes ago?
Back to the park. I tend to romanticize these moments, taking pictures while they’re throwing frisbees, enjoying the idyllic scenery and poignancy of family togetherness, drinking in the fullness of life of children at play.
We move along, exploring the trail along the river, not really sure where it goes, but that doesn’t seem to matter; in this moment, it IS about the journey.
And for some inexplicable reason, I decide to summon a thunderous raincloud right at this turn in the path. I noticed the slightest bit of…resistance (?) in my daughter’s eyes, so I asked her if she was "having fun yet", not really expecting or wanting an answer.
Instead, I got one.
"Well, this all feels kind of forced to me…"
And as the rain poured buckets on my parade I saw my failings in a flash. How in the world do you nurture unity and solidarity and FUN in a family?
Because families never crumble in a day….
thoughts to be continued…yours are certainly welcome.