Tonight, as I folded a little laundry and listened to the last of my husband’s stories from the day, the movie The Help played in the background. I love that movie. I think it’s on the top of my short list of “movies I could watch any day any time.” After my husband said his “good night” and headed to bed, I found myself glued to the movie’s end. I’ve seen it many times, but it still grips me as tightly as the first time.
You is kind.
You is smart.
You is important.
I could never get tired of that scene. It is so moving. Tonight, it tugged my heartstrings in a completely new way. A way that whispered, “Sanctuary.”
I found myself coming to the realization that if I looked back on my day with my dear daughters, my quote would read something more like…
You is cruel.
You is annoying.
I replayed the events of the day. The majority of moments were good – better than most lately. But there were a few segments of our day that made the “terrible moments” highlight reel. The bickering. The nonstop running in circles. The cruelty passing from one sister to another. The ugly monster rising up in me, yelling until my vocal chords hurt, only to cup my face in my hands in regret immediately after. What am I saying to these children?
I have been crumbling the sanctuary. Some days, emotionally and spiritually it feels more like a war zone, with my daughters going about their day beneath shame-shrouds that I have put there – lies that I am writing on their foreheads and their hearts with my cruel words back at them.
What is wrong with yoooou?!
I shout in exhausted exasperation when one sister hits another.
Wrong with her? Nothing is wrong with her. They are being children. Learning boundaries. Pushing boundaries. Pretending boundaries don’t exist in the name of childish fun and freedom. That is going to happen in a plethora of ways over the course of their young lives. It’s about time I start parenting them based upon who they are and not how they are being.
They are kind. They need guidance.
They are smart. They need encouragement.
They are important. They need attention.
They are holy. They need sanctuary.
They have their whole lives to encounter unkind souls, impatient people…
Not with me.
I am their sanctuary.
I see them – walking into their classroom wearing that dark shame-shroud that says,
I’m cruel. I’m annoying. I’m tolerated. I’m unlovable.
I wonder how miserably far that will take them in life, and I am undone, because that’s not how I truly see them at all.
That’s not who they are. That’s not even how they are “being,” yet I find ways throughout my day to wrap them in those suggestions.
As I dig deeper into Rachel Macy’s Stafford’s new book, Hands Free Life, and her wisdom chisels away at my mind-clutter, I feel like the light bulbs are slowly coming on one by one. It’s as if Holy Spirit himself is walking slowly through the “house” of my heart and mind and illuminating the dark places. Sometimes it’s a beaming light that startles me awake. Sometimes, it’s the peaceful glow of candlelight, a gentle reminder to make a change. Listening to my grandmother’s good-bye to my grandfather, candlelight. Realizing what I am doing to the spirits of my daughters, startling beam.
Life has the potential to be harsh enough. We can be kind here.
Life is rushed the minute we walk out the front door. We can be peaceful and deliberate here.
Life is brutally honest, even kicking you while you’re down at times. We can establish the truth in love here. Grace can abound here.
Tomorrow, when my daughters return from school and we’re back at home, just “being” and going about our day, the word sanctuary will be written on my forehead and heart, and I’ll start erasing the words I’ve written on theirs. I’ll pull off the heavy shrouds and replace them with the godly covering that speaks worth and value based solely on, not what they do, but, who they are.
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