Ask, Seek, Knock? More Like: Crawl, Wheeze, Cry

What does gentleness look like in the middle of all this craziness?

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Hey there other parents! I’d ask you how you’re doing, how the summer is going, but I’m pretty sure that the answer involves more of a sound, like, *uuuuuuuggggpphhhh* than it does a socially appropriate response like: “Hey Char, our summer has been great! How’s yours been?!?”

We’re all riding the wave of reintegration and staring down the barrel of a new school year; if you’re cool with all of that and not experiencing migraines, nausea, or general anxiety, then I would say you’re probably in the minority.

It’s a lot. Life has been a lot. And it’s not really easing up… is it…?!?

I find myself most days dragging my (increasingly chubby) weary self into conversation with God and asking: “Hey, so, what’s the deal with today? What do you want? What does gentleness look like for my family?” And here’s the uncomfortable truth, he has said over and over again:

“Listen to me in every step. Show up for people always above your own agenda. My grace that covers your uncertainty, is always enough. Stop asking about the future. What gentleness looks like will be ever-changing; it’s is a living, shifting, specific thing. So… Listen to me in every step… show up for people always above your own agenda…”

And on and on and on...

And IT’S SO HARD! Again(!) *uuuuuuuggggpphhhh.*

But he’s right (big surprise there…). If we’ve learned anything from Life In The Times of COVID, it’s that we really only have the task directly in front of us because everything is constantly shifting. Our solid knowns are few. Walking in faith knowing that he’s bigger and has a better plan, is the only real thing to hang our confidence on. Showing up for one another (friends, family, neighbours, community) as a priority, is where ‘his kingdom will come’ in all of this craziness; and when we do that we find out pretty quickly, that his grace is actually enough. We’re all running on fumes (mine is eau d’caffeine), but to walk in faith means you’re plugged into the Giant Grace Mainframe and there’s always more. Thank the Sweet Lord, there is always more.

The funny thing is that when we do all of that, the future doesn’t really even factor in. He’s right, the ‘keep-in-step’ directive and the daily task of serving others is a full-time gig. So fine, Jesus I surrender the crazy unknowns and I accept your grace for the things I can’t control, but what about gentleness for my family?!? Suffering burnout is a real thing, so I constantly bring this to the prayer table and ask: “what does gentleness look like?

And I want him to pull out a Jesus-y prescription pad and be like, “You need: One take-out dinner, one trip to the beach, one date night out of the house, and three full months of sleeping in every day.”

But what Jesus actually serves up is a moment-by-moment understanding of what gentleness looks like to each family member in any given moment. It TOTALLY IS a living, shifting, very specific thing! It might mean, one-on-one reading time with my girls, setting up special social events for my very extroverted son, or a day of family O.T.W.L (acronym for doing “Only Things We Like” all at once). For me, it might mean powering down and resisting the urge to ‘super accomplish’ everything, or it might mean for me to connect with friends or my sisters. There was one night recently, that gentleness meant we watched a movie, had popcorn for dinner, and all went to bed early.

Here’s the thing: I think God speaks our language and if we ask, he’ll give us the grace that covers uncertainty and the gentleness needed to speak the language of our families. But I think it starts with crawling into that conversation with our migraine-y, nauseous, and COVID chubby bodies.

And it most certainly starts with the sound *uuuuuuuggggpphhhh.*

He gets it. He’s a dad too.

I’m Char, a community-building designer & lifter-upper of people. I work, I write, and I raise three amazing kids.