My daughter got up early today to join me at Magic Church. I call it Magic Church because for the past six months I’ve been attending this 125 person community that all believes different things about the Gospel. Some are married, some are divorced, some are gay and married, some are gay and single. Not everyone believes in the same path to God but all believe in one thing: Letting each other figure it out the best way we can.
I’ve struggled with certain elements of right wing religion for a while, so the freedom to breathe for this A-personality control freak has been nothing other than MAGIC. Even with my doubts on some of progressive Christianity’s approach, I feel in my gut such a joy and peace. From the moment I step under the oak trees my soul whispers, “I am home. I am safe.”
The inner Evangelical in me is not too happy with this concept. With big hair and long nails (with her purse matching her shoes) she finger wags, “This is blasphemy! You need JAYSUS! That’s where the healing is!”
The only problem with Evangelical Annie’s proclamation is that such advice has not turned out to be the case. The healing has not come in the form of dogma and a one-way scripture reading ticket. Transformation, like a flower emerging from a bud, has come with colorful questions and the fragrant ability to share my story with honesty and transparency. I have found the only requirement to a beautiful garden of peace is to ask the master gardener, God himself, to show me who he is in a way I can understand. No control games. No strings attached. (Ding ding ding! He’s shown up every single time. Like a true gentleman, he never barges in without me asking, but once invited, boy does he wine and dine me! That Holy Spirit is such a cheeky one.)
Control + My Kids = Bad Move
This same concept of control has been very true with my kids. In the past I attempted to manage and control them to fit my exact specifications of how they should behave (from healthcare to grooming and study choices) but I could not enjoy easy relationship. To quote Sam, Rex and my mentor, “Control is never loving.” How true that statement was for me and my kids. Our relationship was fraught with tension, hurts and inevitable rebellion. It was only in relinquishing my need to be in charge that freedom came in. And in that freedom, a beautiful connection and bond formed.
Side note: I am not talking about letting go of stuff that matters. Serious bodily injury or outright defiance? Not happening. But if they don’t want to change their pillows every other day, despite my concern that their face could be clearer if they did so, I let it go. I’d rather have a kid with a few pimples who is happy with themselves than a brow beaten acne free teenager who begrudgingly complies. And if it means that much to me, I can just change the damn sheets myself. Some days I do just that. But most days I look at it, sigh, and refill my coffee cup. That seems more reasonable. (Oh, and do I change my own pillow every other day despite my acne? Oooh, snap! Not so much. Moving on.)
Today in church, when my daughter rolled into my pew in the back right hand corner, one kid after another smashed their way into her row like little spiritual sardines. “Pip!” they shouted. “I want a piggy back ride after service!”
Later, when Pastor Craig announced that the kids approach the front of the sanctuary for Children’s Hour (Ages 13 and under) Pip went right up there with the kids. She’s almost 15, but it didn’t matter. Flanked by kids on both side of her, she joined the Jesus mosh pit, participated in the message, and marched right out the door with them to Sunday School.
I bring this up because none of it was planned, but it was perfectly acceptable. No need to argue over technicalities. It just was. Magic.
The fact that my son was at my previous church and my husband was home washing the car? No big deal. Lack of worry about this less than ideal set up? Magic!
The old Andrea would have been in despair over such a fractured family. The new Andrea knows that every one of us gets to be spiritually fed the way we need it.
I won’t lie. I sometimes see the families with matching tee shirts and Bible verses from my old church and think, “Man, where did I go wrong?” But these days I’m mostly seeing where I went right:
- Not sweating the small stuff to allow space for God’s miracles to manifest
- Allowing humor to replace critical comments and sarcasm
- Opening up our home to friends and family regardless of perfectly cleaned floors
- Choosing to live with older cars and furniture so that newer belief structures could replace antiquated fears (fears that served only to root me in shame and second guessing)
Some of you might feel very differently than I do about this subject, and that’s okay. All I know is that the world sometimes feels very very unsafe. But in my little neck of the world, at least at this very moment with my daughter still swimming at her new church friend’s house and a belly full of pizza just hand delivered by Rex, my universe feels so full of joy and gratitude that I can only refer to it like I refer to my church: Magic.
Like the Jesus I follow who I believe died not just for me but for all of us, it only took dying to my old ideas of management and control to find it.
Might have taken 49 years to figure it out, but that’s better than nothing.
Friends, I wish you joy, peace, love and the ability to let go of managing every little thing that doesn’t matter so you can truly enjoy what does this week.
Until next time,
PS: I picked up quite a few new readers this week. Glad to have you on board! You are so welcome here! Leave a comment so we can get to know ya.
My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. )
(Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook.
4 thoughts on “You Can Manage and Control Something, but You Can’t Enjoy It at the Same Time. (Yeah, Let That Sink In.)”
Kids who grow up with pets in grubby pet-filled homes are more robust than those raised in sterile environments (assuming other health-related factors are equal). Research has proved it, although I couldn’t point you there; I just remember going “Yay!” when the news report came out many years ago. (My kids grew up with dogs). Skin learns how to deal with spots; teenagers grow out of them.
A Christian colleague I worked with many years ago was one of the most unforgiving women I’ve ever met. Her four children all left home as soon as they could and she never spoke to any of them again.
We’re all different. Each of our relationships – family members or friends – is different. So why does our relationship with God have to be the same as everyone else’s. And who gets to decide what kind of relationship is the right one?
Cathy, I agree. I didn’t realize Til pretty recently quite how much I wanted to fit in. However others for answers. Funny because I’ve always had an artistic flair and have been consistent leader by many, but inside felt less than. The beauty of getting older is realizing that no one has it figured out and God loves all of us equally. ❤️
Great post, Andrea! I’ve been struggling to write a post about control and letting go, and here you’ve described it so nicely. I especially appreciate your mention of how we cannot (and should not) try to control our kids too much. My conscious decision to scold less and talk more (when my son was 2.5), the effectiveness of which was doubted by so many family members, is one of the choices I’m most proud of. Now he’s 8.5, and we have a very loving relationship, where I know when he listens to me (which is not always), it is out of love and not fear. I think that’s what God would like from us, too. To please him out of our love for him, not the fear of some vague but frightening hell. We create enough personal hells for ourselves on this earth. Love is the only way out.
RhymingReason5, I totally get the whole struggle with people thinking you’re doing it wrong. It can be super hard to go against the norm when people are settled and cozy in their dysfunctional way of relating to people. I look at it like this: If the only people who are benefiting from me blaming and shaming my kids into perfect submission are folks outside my immediate family while the rest of us drown in resentment, people pleasing and lack of peace, I’ve got it backwards. (Of course it took years for me to land here. It wasn’t until both my kids turned 13 that the pain became great enough to change. Congrats to you on figuring it out sooner!) Were you inspired by a particular author or educator or was this just your conscious telling you to WAKE UP IT’S NOT WORKING!?