Open the Door to Others

Gina Butz courage, relationships 0 Comments

Open the door to others

Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash

 

“To open yourself to another person, to stop lying about your loneliness and your fears, to be honest about your affections, and to tell others how much they mean to you-this openness is the triumph of the child of God over the Pharisee and a sign of the dynamic presence of the Spirit.” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child).

We lie about our loneliness and our fears.

They are hidden beneath smiles, activity, and bravado. We ignore aches and push down anxieties, because we believe the people who present themselves to others without these trappings are more acceptable, desirable, and welcome.

And that’s how the loneliness and fears grow. They lie to us about our worth. Their grip on us tightens and reinforces our distance from those who would really know our hearts.

Those lies battle with the truth that we need others, and the truth that real strength lies not in hiding, but in vulnerability. Life is not found behind closed doors.

In an unguarded moment not long ago, I moved toward a friend. I clung to a glimmer of hope that maybe I wasn’t alone; maybe she felt it too. We began a hesitant companionship, marked with vulnerability hangovers from fear we overshared. Several times one or the other of us nearly cancelled a lunch date because the thought of baring ourselves felt too heavy. But slowly, we pushed past our fears toward each other.

After a while, we thought maybe we weren’t alone. Maybe other women wanted, needed, a place to be raw, real, seen, and heard too. So we invited a few. And they came.

Four of us are on a journey of opening to each other. Between work and travel and family, we carve out times together where we simply ask, “how are you?” and make space for more than rote answers.

We have, each of us, wondered if we fit in with the others.

As we open doors into deeper recesses of our hearts, we navigate fear.

We brave disappointing one another with our honest selves.

Together, we invite each other’s childlike selves to show up, share wounds that need care, and receive the tenderness and empathy we need. We share where our hearts are in the process of being awkwardly awake and alive to the mess of life, parenting, friendship, and ministry.

One week, a flurry of text messages appeared about getting together. I chimed in that I couldn’t come, and received no response. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I watched as they excitedly planned time without me.

The loneliness and fear called back to me, telling me how foolish it was to believe I could leave them behind. They whispered of my lack. Told me I was dispensable. Noted how quickly I was passed over.

When our group sat down in our booth at Panera the next week, I swallowed hard and spoke my lies. These friends listened, understood, and opened the door for me to reclaim my space with them.

The triumph of the child over the Pharisee often feels less like victory and more like heart thumping hope as we bring our true selves to each other, vulnerable and exposed.

I need these women, and they need me. While the enemy conspires with a thousand little lies to keep us from being open with others, the Spirit whispers to us that it is worth it, this baring of our souls.

He bids us come with our childlike selves, and believe there is a place for us.

Needing others is not weakness. It is not something to be despised or masked, but rather something to be embraced and celebrated.

There is a place for each of us. Open the door.Twitter
Related posts:

The Soul Needs to Be Seen 

On Becoming Real

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Finding True Strength: Thoughts on Raising Strong Daughters

Gina Butz Uncategorized 1 Comment

Finding True Strength: thoughts on raising strong daughters

photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When I was pregnant with our 2nd child, I prayed for a girl with red, curly hair. I got my wish, apart from the curls. Looking back, I see now I wanted so much more for her than that curly red hair.

I wanted her to live loved, to be confident in who she is, and to find her passion and live it well. I wanted her to love Jesus. I wanted her to be strong.

Even as she came into the world and grew, I was in a process myself of redefining what being a strong woman means . . .

 

Read the rest of this post about how God has led me to raise our daughter to have true strength at my friend Beth Bruno’s blog today! She is the author of the soon to be released A Voice Becoming: A Yearlong Mother-Daughter Journey into Passionate, Purposed Living. 

 

Related posts:

Finding Your Own Voice

Hope for My Daughter (On Turning 13) 

 

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Why Do We Keep Ourselves from Grace?

Gina Butz grace, truth 0 Comments

 

why do we keep ourselves from receiving God's grace?

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

When you see your child’s number appear on your phone in the middle of a school day, it’s usually not a great sign. Worse when the voice on the other end is in tears. The first thought in my mind was, “Who’s hurt? What’s broken?” (thankfully no one and nothing). Instead, I heard the story of a foolish mistake that resulted in negative (but necessary) consequences, leaving a wake of regret and embarrassment.

Throughout the day, text messages came at me, asking if I was disappointed, convinced that others were disappointed, determined that we should be disappointed. The reality was, the disappointment came from within.

Finally the words came out, “I just can’t forgive myself.” Ah, there it is. It’s not that others hadn’t forgiven. In fact, grace was abundant. Yet there was a determination to continue to stand in judgment of himself, refusing grace.

Sometimes, we’re the only ones keeping us from the grace we need.Twitter

 

Why do we do this?

We are hard wired for justice. The world tells us we don’t get things for free. There should be punishment for our failure. It feels right somehow to call ourselves to task. Someone must pay.

We forget Someone already has.

So we don’t allow ourselves to grab hold of the grace offered to us in times of failure. It’s our own negative self-talk that keeps us in a place of condemnation instead of resting in grace. Judge and jury hold court in our own heads. While others hold out forgiveness, we hold ourselves just beyond its grasp.

We keep ourselves in chains, when we are called live freely.

If the voice in our heads says we are out of reach of grace, it’s not God talking.Twitter

So what do we do? We claim what’s true.

I reminded my son there is only one Person in the world who has the right to judge us, and He has already made the ruling on our sin, failure, and weakness. No condemnation. Free and forgiven. Nothing we do surprises Him because He saw it before it happened. He sees more failure in us than we see, and He still forgives. Therefore, nothing makes Him withdraw grace. If He has declared us free, then our job is to agree with Him, and let ourselves off the hook.

Where our pride keeps us from owning our humanity, and shame chains us as unworthy, we must humbly accept that we are who we are-fallen people in need of grace.

Humility. Acceptance. Agreement.

Repeat and repeat and repeat, until His becomes the truest voice in our heads, overpowering our lies. This is how we unchain ourselves, and walk freely the grace we need every day.

 

Related posts:

Tell Me the Truth

We Need to Stop Hitting Ourselves

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Plan to Stay Where God Calls You

Gina Butz home, transition 7 Comments

Photo by christian koch on Unsplash

Leaving home is hard. Finding home is harder.

We live in southeast Orlando, in one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the country. Few of us are “from” here. It’s a transient community. Many of us never anticipated living in Florida, of all places. It feels like somewhere between where we were and where we plan to go, not home. We all face the challenge of how to carve out new life here in this place to which God has called us.

Like I said, it’s hard to find home. Sometimes, it’s because we’re looking elsewhere.

Maybe we can’t settle where we are because we are looking back on the life we had. We miss the community we left, our favorite coffee shop, our old job, or the life we had before kids.

Or we peer ahead to what is coming-the season when kids won’t be in diapers, or we’ll get that better job, when school will be over, or we’re finally married. It’s hard to dig in right where we are and live it fully.

But if we dwell on the past, we won’t see what God is doing in the here and now. If we focus on the future, we miss the blessings of today.

We will not find home until we plan to stay. Twitter

In Jeremiah 29:5-7, God told the exiled Israelites, Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters . . . Increase in number there; do not decrease.”

Strange words to give to people wholly displaced. The Israelites did not want to stay there. They wanted another, different life. 

The fact is, this world is not our true home and never will be. We are on a journey from where we were when God found us to where He will take us in the end. Where we are now is exactly where He wants us to be. So how do we make it home?

  1. Invest where you are

    God told the Israelites to build homes and settle down. Life is different when you own something. You put in time, money, and energy to make it a place you want to stay. Finding home means living like we aren’t renters but owners of this life, however long the season might be. Twitter We give fully of ourselves to the people and places in this season God’s given us, believing that it is worth this time.

    Investing is hard, because it means we pour pieces of our hearts into this season that we might not get back when we leave. Our last year overseas, when we knew we were nearing the end, a new family moved to the neighborhood. We instantly connected with them, but hesitated to invest because we knew it would mean a painful goodbye. In the end, we decided it was worth the investment, and we walked away with life long friends.

    So stay at that church, even if it’s not perfect. Get to know your neighbors. Drive the back streets of your new city until you navigate it by heart. Grab lunch with those new co-workers. Paint the walls. Hang pictures. Plan to stay.

  2. Be patient with the process

    God also told the Israelites to “plant gardens and eat what they produce.” You don’t plant a garden unless you’re willing to wait around for a harvest. Gardens take time, so as we make those new investments in relationships and situations, we patiently wait for new life.

    Oh, it’s hard. But when we believe God is good to us, we plant with faith that good will grow. New life won’t happen overnight, but it will come. So we hope. And in the hoping, we hold loosely to the way we believe He will provide. If we are too focused on how we think He will meet our needs, we are bound to miss what He is actually doing.

    Life will be different than the last season. What we plant here will not produce the same crop we had before, because this is a new place. But this is what we need right now. What grows is what God intends to use to sustain us.

  3. Enjoy the moment

    God also told the Israelites to “marry and have children.” Talk about planning to stay. God wanted them to savor the season. We stop looking back or looking forward and just rejoice in what is here and now. He wants us to soak in with gratitude all that He is giving us. The more we look, the more we see.

    These verses challenge me to consider my attitude toward this place I thought I would never be. Have I been pouring myself into life here like I’m never going to leave? Do I believe this is right where God wants me to be, and that He will do good to me? They call me to love deeply, hope wildly, and celebrate fully this life. Wherever you are, embrace the season. God has good in store for you.

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” -Jim Elliot

Related posts:

Stand at the Crossroads

Having Hope in a New Season

 

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Are You an Extravert or Introvert? Or Maybe That’s the Wrong Question

Gina Butz identity, Uncategorized 3 Comments

a journey between extravert and introvert

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

My 2nd grade report card tells me I was a friendly, socially active child. It contains one criticism, “Gina needs to learn to not talk to peers during quiet times.” I was, in the beginning, an extravert.

And so I believed for many years. After all, I am a verbal processor. I love talking. Public speaking is my jam. The bigger the crowd, the better. In groups, I easily jump in with stories. I’ve always left parties feeling energized.

Or so I thought. After awhile, I wondered if what I was feeling wasn’t energized, but “unsettled.” Mixed in with that energy, often, was insecurity. What did people think of me? Did what I share make them like me more? At times I feel compelled to join in social interaction. The FOMO is strong.

God brought me through a season when I recognized the dark side of this drive to belong. The expectations and opinions of others held me captive. As I experienced deeper peace and rest in my identity in Him, I felt freer. In that freedom, I thought, “Perhaps I am actually an introvert.”

So I gave that introvert emotional space to exist. My soul desperately needs solitude and silence to be restored. As fun as it is to entertain others with stories, I prefer sitting in the depths with someone one on one. Small talk is loathsome to me. It was freeing to step away from that which drained me.

I concluded that I am introvert. Ah, but what to make of all my words and love of people? To claim introvert leads others to assume things about that me are not true: I don’t want to engage with them, would rather be left alone, or need time to think (I probably should take more time to think, but if you need thoughts from me, they’re right there). It’s left me lonely when I didn’t want to be.

Lately, I’ve noticed an inclination to choose solitude when I actually need people. I use the excuse that I’m an introvert, but perhaps the real reason is I’m afraid or lazy. Easier to say I’m an introvert than drum up the courage to initiate with someone who might not have time. Admitting need is hard for me. Engaging with others is easy when I dominate conversation-harder when I have to listen well.

Perhaps on this journey I am neither and I am both. My suspicion is the majority of us are. More than that, I see is how easy it is for us to use either one as an excuse. We use them to justify seeking the satisfaction of something our soul needs apart from God.

Maybe our pull toward people sometimes isn’t because they energize us, but because we are afraid of being alone. We seek affirmation that we are loved. Our souls ache for belonging. We long to feel accepted. Being with others is both a way to affirm our worth and avoid the loneliness we dread.

There are times when we choose to be alone because we don’t want to put forth the energy to engage with others. Or we believe others disinterested in our presence. We let inertia keep us at home. And rather than using that time to feed our souls, we distract them with YouTube, social media, and a million other shallow pursuits. Our souls stay lonely.

These days, I’ve been trying instead to ask myself, whether I feel inclined to engage with others or not, what is driving me? Am I avoiding something my soul needs to address by filling my time with people? Am I hoarding my time because I’m afraid to need others, afraid of rejection?

We all need people, and we all need solitude. And yes, we tend to be more naturally comfortable with one or the other. But these labels harm us if we use them as an excuse to avoid what our souls truly need at any given time.

Could I suggest instead we be more contemplative? Rather than labeling ourselves one or the other, let’s acknowledge that we were made for both, and ask God to help us engage in ways that feed our souls and others.

 

Related posts:

Drop the Hot Dog: Learning to Feed on What Truly Satisfies

What I’m Learning from Loneliness

 

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Why I Love Being Middle Aged

Gina Butz faith, growth, identity 3 Comments

Why I love being a middle aged woman

photo from pixelbay.com

This summer I celebrated my 44th birthday. I’m officially just, “40 something.” I thought this was when I was supposed to have a midlife crisis, or pine for my youth, but as I reflect on it, I actually love being “middle aged.” Here’s why:

  1. I am more comfortable in my own skin.

    I’d love to say “completely comfortable” but I’m not quite there. It’s been a journey. I am more able to laugh at my foolishness (and less surprised by it). I’m learning to accept my limits rather than always pushing them. My physical body may not be exactly how I’d like, but I love that it is still healthy and strong.

  2. I can wear what I want.

    Sure, I’d like to still stay within the boundaries of looking socially acceptable (or at least not land myself squarely in “completely out of touch”). But more and more I take a look at what passes for “this season’s trends” and think, “Yeah, maybe next year.” Or maybe never. I’m aiming for “classic” these days. No one’s expecting me to be cool anymore, thank the Lord. Wearing what I like instead of what’s expected is awesome.

  3. I have wrinkles.

    Now, this is a “by faith” kind of love. Sure, I wish I didn’t have them, but the fact that I do is a reminder that I have lived. They are lines of experience, evidence that I have seen and done much. The sun has shined on my face in a dozen different countries. I have laughed. Hard. Those wrinkles are an accumulation of joy at the blessings I’ve been given.

  4. I have life long relationships.

    There’s something about being able to say, “I’ve known this person for decades, and they know me (and still like me).” What a blessing! My husband and I just hit 20 years of marriage. Soon we will have been married longer than we were single. One of my closest friends I have known for over 30 years. The amount of history wrapped up in those kinds of relationships is priceless, and there’s an aspect to it that only comes with a lot of time.

  5. I’m more at peace with the world.

    I get less worked up about most things and more passionate about what I feel really matters. There’s more gray in the world that I knew, and that makes it easier to major on the majors rather than every little thing that seems out of sorts. Along the way I’ve realized most of my attempts to control the world are futile (though don’t be surprised if you still catch me trying). What we think is huge is small in comparison to God’s sovereignty.

  6. My mess doesn’t bother me as much. 

    For so much of my life, I aimed for having it all together. Being messy felt like a one way ticket to being shunned from good society. But some time back, God started teaching me that not only can others love me in my mess, they often love me more when I let them into it. The more I own my depravity, the more I see that God’s grace is greater than anything I lack. He is leading me to rest in my flawed existence and know I am still loved.

    why I love being a middle aged woman

    my middle age self on a mountain in Colorado

  7. I have experienced God’s faithfulness.

    None of these things could be true of me apart from the relentless, tender grace and love of God that has pursued me every day of my life. I love that I can look back and trace the lines of His faithfulness to me through countless years, places, and experiences. He has been my most steadfast companion over all the mountains and through all the valleys. The more I live, the more I can attest to the truth of it, and it makes me love Him more. If I’ve learned anything, it is that He is good.

So there you have it-me enjoying my 40s. The best part is, these things I love will only continue, and I have hope that they will get even better with time.

 

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Storm Preparation: Principles for the Spiritual Life

Gina Butz trials 1 Comment

weathering the storm-principles for our spiritual lives

Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs on Unsplash

This week we, along with other Floridians, are staring down a major hurricane. Riding on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, emotions are higher. Fear is strong. Already by Tuesday, supplies were out, though the storm shouldn’t hit till Sunday. As we prepare for this storm, I reflect on how our actions translate to principles for the spiritual life as well.

When we see a storm coming, our first response is to gather supplies. I’m thankful I had the foresight to ask our son to pick up water on his way home Sunday, because yesterday there was none to be found. People get salty when supplies are scarce. And often, in our spiritual lives, we act out of a scarcity mentality. The truth we need to ride out storms we gather in short supply. We reach for it in moments of desperation, instead of storing up for a rainy day.

But friends, the truth that sustains is there for the taking. It never runs out. We must constantly feed ourselves a supply of truth, so that when the storms of life hit, we have a storehouse. And we can be the ones generously sharing that truth with others.

While my husband is traveling until Friday, I’m thankful for my team from work. All day Wednesday we continued an email thread checking with each other. Who’s staying? How do we prepare? I confess, I was reluctant at first to admit my ignorance. I’m a Minnesota girl. All our storm preparedness is, “When the sirens start, grab some snacks and head for the basement. Turn on the TV.”

But in admitting my need, I receive help. There is comfort in connecting with them. We know we are not alone. Others will walk with us. When we weather the storms in life, we desperately need others. That requires owning our needs, ignorance, and poverty, so that others can help us. We were made to weather storms together.

Part of our preparation is checking for the safe places. Our house has few interior rooms-just a small room under the stairs and decent sized closets in the kids’ rooms. (Looks like we will hunker down Harry Potter style).

We need safe places. In God, we have the greatest one. Twitter He is our solid place, rock, refuge, our anchor in the storm. Too easily I wander from that home and look for solid places elsewhere; it is a pointless search. He is the best hiding place.

Despite our best preparations, we know this storm might cause damage. Our backyard is wooded. Surely branches will fall and trees may be uprooted. While our house was built to withstand strong winds, it can’t bear everything. How will it all hold up against the storm?

In our spiritual lives, there is where I see God work so much good. Storms are when we see what we’re made of. We see if we have built our lives on solid ground. There’s uprooting that needs to happen so God can plant something better. We come through a little battered and worse for wear, but humbled as well. They bring us back into dependence.

I confess, through all this preparation, I am fearful. There are so many “what if?” scenarios. There is too much out of my control. In the face of a storm, God calls me back to rest in His goodness.Twitter  He reminds me that He is greater than any storm, even the biggest one I’ve ever seen. His perfect love for us drives out fear. While we remain vigilant and alert to the destructive forces around us, we are trusting, hopeful, and deeply loved.

So we store up truth along the way, guarding our hearts for whatever might come. We keep building our lives and identities on the solid ground of who God is. That way, when the rain comes and the wind blows, we rest secure. We do it together. We do it knowing that however great the storm, He is greater.

 

Related posts:

Peace and Hope Amidst the Storm

 

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What We Don’t Have to Carry

Gina Butz dependence on God, peace 4 Comments

What we don't have to carry-remembering to give our worry to God

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash

I woke up one morning recently, and in that space between sleeping and waking I had a clear picture in my head of a room. Lying in the room were objects that represented aspects of my life that were causing me to worry.

It was right in the middle of a crazy week. Our kids had started school and I was trying to get back into my role at work, bringing a thousand minute decisions and needful things screaming for my attention.

The night before, as I reviewed my day, I had been aware of how those worries had occupied my thoughts and energy during the day. It occurred to me how much I had been holding onto them, rather than stopping to pray and release them to God. I determined that the next day would be one of peace. Surrender would be my course of action.

But as I woke up that morning and pictured that room, my eyes found those worries lying around me. I immediately felt a heaviness in my soul as I saw myself reaching to pick them up again, throw them over my shoulders, and trudge on. But as I leaned to take hold of one of these burdens, I heard God say,

“That is not yours to carry.” 

There was in that instant a momentary sense of relief, and a reminder of my determination to stay in a place of peace this day. But in the next second, another worry popped up, whispering over my shoulder that surely I needed to carry it. As I turned in my mind to pick it up, again I heard His voice,

“That is not yours to carry.”

And then I breathed a sigh of surrender.

Sitting down that morning to pray, I thought of all those worries I was tempted to bear. I thought about this invitation from God to release my grip on them. They are good and important things that do require attention and care, but they are beyond my control. It’s best I admit that. That’s a good place to start.

So I wrote them all out one by one, writing a prayer of release for each detail. And then, I asked God to make me carefree.

I like that word-“care free.” To be free from care. Not that I stop caring what happens in our lives, but I stop being the carrier. I stop believing that without me at work, they will be forgotten and lost. I believe that the God who is stronger, wiser, bigger, and more powerful carries them for me.

That morning, a friend of mine posted 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” I took a few minutes to read that verse in other translations, and I had to laugh when I opened The Message. It reads, “Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.” 

Full of care for us. Fully able to carry all those burdens that threaten to weigh us down with worry. Whatever is calling for you to pick it up and bear it today, don’t. Live care-free. Let Him carry it.

 

Related posts:

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Doubting in the Darkness

Let Go and Let Him Hold You

 

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Yes a Million Times-Thoughts on 20 Years of Marriage

Gina Butz relationships 5 Comments

Yes a million times - staying in marriage for the long haul

photo by freestock.org

This year marks 20 years of marriage for us. When I think back on 20 years, the question arises, “What does it take to make a marriage last?” And I suppose the answer could be “marry your best friend” (which I did) or “never go to bed angry” (uh . . . ) or “keep dating your spouse.” All good ideas. But at the end of the day, what I think it comes down to is choosing to say yes.

Marriage starts with a yes. We enter in bravely saying, “Yes, I will journey this life with you,” most of us barely knowing what that will really mean.

It starts with a yes, but I’ve discovered it lasts for the long haul because we choose to say a million more yeses.

We say yes to doing the dishes, getting up with the kid in the middle of the night, mowing the lawn, and a thousand other tasks we would probably rather not do.

We choose to step toward reconciliation when we’ve disagreed, to forgive, to admit wrong.

Decisions are made to deny our own desires, our ways, our plans, and allow someone else’s wants and needs to trump our own.

We overlook the offense, accept the quirks, smile instead of frown at the annoying habit, knowing that the thing that bothers us will probably happen again tomorrow.

Wrinkles, receding hairlines, stretch marks, and pot bellies we accept into our story.

Walking together through the valleys and the challenges, going places we would rather not go, is a choice we make.

We commit to being in their court even if no one else is.

Naked vulnerability, physically and emotionally, becomes part of how we live.

We sign on daily to bear witness to someone else’s ordinary and extraordinary moments.

We say yes to all of this and more.

Sometimes a yes is easy.

It feels like the most natural thing in the world. We say it gladly, as though it was what we were made for.

But other days, a yes is sacrificial, so hard we feel like we deserve a medal for it (note: my husband should have oodles of medals for saying yes to me. He’s on track for sainthood).

Some days a yes asks too much humility, too much vulnerability, when our hearts are already raw. It’s tempting, in those times, to let our yeses become nos. The more we do that, the more our hearts close.

Some days we determine that our spouses don’t deserve a yes, and we’re right. So often they don’t (and neither do we). But this is where we’re called back to the economy of the Kingdom, which says we have been overwhelmed with what we don’t deserve, and we are called to model our lives and marriages after our Savior. God says yes to us again and again, moving toward us despite our response or worthiness.

Each time we choose to move toward each other, we create a greater space for the other to rest in, a place of acceptance, grace, love, and commitment, of belonging, permanence, and rootedness. The yeses deepen our dependence on each other, claiming ground in each others’ hearts.

Each yes to our spouse is a reflection of the relentless, pursuing love of God.Twitter This is the opportunity we have, not only in marriage, but in all relationships-to say yes when it’s hard, when we’d rather go our own way, and serve ourselves. We journey well together when we choose to give and move toward each other, holding tight, leaning on each other.

So we keep saying yes, day after day, year after year. That’s how we got here. And it’s what will keep us going.

 

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Surviving Your Child’s Senior Year

Gina Butz parenting, perspective 6 Comments

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

It’s finally here: our son is a senior in high school. This thought instills in me an equal mix of terror and grief. We have to help our son navigate all the craziness of this year to do the very thing we don’t want him to do, which is leave us. Cue tears.

I want to do this well, though. I want to look back and say that we navigated this year with grace, wisdom, and hope. I want to feel like we made the most of it. I’ve been pondering what that might look like, and I’ve decided on four words that will be our mantra:

  1. Celebrate

    Let’s begin with a hearty celebration for getting to this place. He’s come a long way from the boy who put an unpopped kernel of corn in his own ear because his sister wisely wouldn’t let him put it in hers. He has learned to navigate life in three countries, has discovered life passions, learned to drive, held down a job, made deep and lasting friendships, and embraced his own walk with Jesus. This is all worth celebrating.

    But God’s goodness to him has only begun, and it is sure. The word celebrate reminds me to continue to have a mindset of gratitude and expectance. When I am tempted to be overwhelmed and I need prayer, I want to begin with thanking God for what He is doing.

    And after I plant myself in God’s goodness, I’m also going to remind myself to:

  2. Breathe

    It is easy to look at the business of AP classes and college applications and financial aid, and want to run for the hills. But I know getting through this year will be the kind of journey that is “one day at a time,” and probably “each moment at a time.”

    So when it all feels like too much, I want to take a deep breath and be in the moment, both to experience it fully, but also to remember that it’s all going to be ok. This breathing has already begun, in earnest. I’ve grabbed my son by the shoulders and done it with him. Lots of deep breathing happening in this house.

    We want to breathe in God’s strength, wisdom, and guidance in every second. We want to breathe out the fears and uncertainty, letting His presence with us be our rock of refuge and rest. And then, I’m going to remember to:

  3. Trust

    Easier said than done, but what a great opportunity this year will be to grow in our trust that God is greater than anything we face. The older our kids get, the greater the challenges. I could let that cause me to up the control ante, or I could just release the reins altogether and trust that even though I have to let go of them more and more, His grip on them is greater than mine, and never loosens. Isaiah 26:3 says that the perfect peace we seek for this year is found as we depend completely on the One we trust. And as our school administrator shared with us during orientation, “You feel like you’ve been dropped in the deep end of the ocean. But remember that God is the Creator of the ocean.” He will guide each step. He can be counted on to carry us.

  4. Savor

    When life feels tough, it’s tempting to rush through the stress and exhaustion to reach the finish line, but I know if we do that, we will miss the journey God has for us along the way.

    Instead, I want to savor every moment. I want to linger over meals and family times and the last ponderings of each day. I want to live this year fully present, putting aside my own tasks to make space for just being together. I want to hold each minute just a little longer and recognize the gift it is. I want to slow down time, but if I can’t, I at least want to relish it like the richest of fare.

If you’re with me in this boat, let me know. I’d love to hear how you hope to journey well as you launch your child. If you’ve already been through this, I welcome wisdom. If this is your future, it’s never to early to start practicing these attitudes.

Wherever are you on your journey, would you pray for me? With God’s help, I believe we won’t just survive this year, but it will be a year when we experience Him deeply.

 

Related posts:

As the Ride Winds Down: Thoughts on the Last Moments of Childhood

When You Just Have to Do One Day at a Time 

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