So we are getting used to a new life here. There are many wonderful things, some okay things and some difficult things. Such is the stuff of uprooting and committing to a nomadic life of grad school with five children in tow! I am also learning how to homeschool which is a huge job in itself, especially because I want to do a good job! I am also starting my own business with Rodan + Fields skincare. Basically, the doctors who created ProActive also started another skincare line that has been taking off. It's been all over Hollywood, The Today Show, Oprah, etc...A lot of people are really getting into it because the products actually work. I'm just excited to get in with this company and start helping people get better skin! I've talked with numerous moms whose children have extreme eczema to other women who just want to take care of their neverending acne. Anyhow, trying to get that off the ground has definitely taken up some time too. Not to mention my children, they pretty much take 98 percent of my time. But we are adjusting and learning to thrive here in the high desert!
One thing that has really stood out to me is that we are in a different place. You might say, "Duh!". No but seriously, on the outside things don't look all that different. But the longer we're here in our neighborhood, the more I understand that we are in a different place all together. We are not living among friends anymore like we were at Monte Vista. We are living among strangers who do not necessarily care about us or our kids.
Here is my most recent example: There is a playground in our backyard. Our house happens to be the closest house to it. That's been nice. I've been able to send the kids out to play and lots of neighbor kids go out there as well. For the most part, our kids have gotten along swimmingly with all the other kids. There have been a few things we've had to talk through (like today Josh asked me if God was really real because a girl on the playground had told him that He wasn't). There have been things like that that come with other kids being raised differently than mine.
Today I was reminded though about how many opportunities I will have to show grace. One of the biggest lessons I learned from our old church community was the absolute importance of seeking reconciliation, getting clear and asking forgiveness. It goes a long way. And God commands it. Direct application to my life right now. When we first moved here there was a little girl who I immediately knew was trouble. Some of the stuff my boys were reporting to us after playing tipped me off that she was one I needed to watch. They weren't always angels to her either but, like we try to practice in our family, when they did something unkind, no matter how small, they had to seek reconciliation with her even though many times, she was the instigator. It didn't matter to me, they had to do what's right no matter what.
On one occasion this past week I went out to tell my boys they had five minutes to play. Without knowing it, I walked into a bit of an argument between my oldest (who is seriously the sweetest so the fact that he was upset was alarming) and this girl. He was insisting she stop calling them names and she was denying it like she had never done anything of the sort and had NO clue what he was talking about. Super suspicious. However, like any mom would do, I tried to help them sort it out. And I made sure Isaac asked forgiveness for his tone and she accepted. She of course didn't care to make things right herself. I mentioned for everyone to show each other respect and then let them play.
After that, things got weird. This girl started telling all the kids she couldn't play with mine because they were mean, and my boys started getting really hurt. Everytime they would come out to play, she would run away and mention loudly how she wasn't allowed around them, etc...This was a new experience for me. My kids normally get along with everyone. Finally, Steve and I felt it was time to intervene. So Steve went over to talk with the parents. And it came out that they were highly offended that I had talked to their daughter about anything. I should've received permission from them before speaking to her about being nice. Really I was just generally speaking to all the kids and really tried to lean on my kids, being much harder on them and really light with her, mostly trying to just clear the air. But it was too much for them. I had acted inappropriately and that's why they had pulled their daughter from play with our kids.
When Steve came home and told me the root of the problem I wanted to be furious. I did. How incredibly insane. Who thinks like that? But he quickly reminded me that we don't know their story. We had offended them and we had to do what we could to make it right. After a few minutes of gathering my wits, we walked hand in hand over to their house and I apologized. Not because they deserved it but because God's grace had to cover this one. God's grace had to. It was too insane. Too crazy for me to understand. But I had to get clear. I had to seek forgiveness. It's what God tells us to do. Be at peace.
It was so difficult to make that walk over there. I wanted to fight and tell God how unjust it was! But deep down I knew. I knew that I can never go wrong when I seek to get clear. That's a valuable lesson I've learned over time. Forgiveness diffuses things. I haven't always done it right in the past. But I know now, repentance is what God calls us to no matter how difficult and even when others are ridiculous.
I could tell that they were disarmed immediately. I mean, how do you argue with that? How do you keep hating when someone just comes over and says, "Wow, I am so sorry I offended you. That wasn't my intention. If you'd like me to come talk to you instead of speaking to your daughter about anything, then I will respect that. Please forgive me!" You can't argue with it. God's grace is so powerful! I have no idea if they will come around and let their daughter play with our kids. Or if they'll be cordial with us or even like us at all. But I do know, we've done our part. And hopefully, they will see the One who is behind it all-Christ. Because repentance is so counter-cultural. God will use it.
I may be out of our my safe little Monte Vista bubble now here. But I'm going to learn a lot and hopefully, those around me will experience God's grace. I know I need it. And so do they.
But most of all, I'm thankful for the neighborhood we had surrounding us for so long and for our church that lived in community with others in such a way that reflected this transparency. These lessons will follow me the rest of my days. I won't always like their application, but I will think with fondness on those who really taught me about this and I will thank God for the opportunities to grow and learn.
Erroring on the side of grace is always the way to go...no matter what. No matter what.
CJ Mahaney’s Christmas Book List 2017
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