Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Being Brave To... Love Extravagantly

I don't make space in my life for extravagant love.

Most of the time I'm just trying to get dinner on the table by 6:00, my kids to bed on time, and to school with clean clothes and a lunch.

My baby needs diaper changes, and feedings, and naps -- preferably not in the car, but that's often how they happen.

At yesterday's meeting, listening to Bob Goff speak, I had tears. The kind of love he was talking about seems so far away to me; so amazing, but nearly impossible.

I'm surviving here. My days are a series of distractions. How do I love my kids this way? How do I love my husband like that?

If I think about it for long enough, I realize it's not necessarily all the "to-do's" in my life keeping me from going the extra mile.

It's fear.

Bob spoke about this in reference to his story about "four-footer" and the boy's miraculous recovery from a horrific attack by evil men. The boy knew that God was bigger than his enemy. And he was not afraid.

What am I afraid of? What are we, as moms trying to make it through the day, afraid of? What keeps us from loving extravagantly? Because, let's not forget that we love already. We love greatly. We love our kids and husbands by our scheduling, our dinner-making, our early-rising. We love them by meeting their needs, don't we?

I don't feel capable of more right now, to be honest; but I don't have to do this alone. I can not love this way, but God can. And He does. He loves us beyond just meeting our basic needs, doesn't He? He loves unconditionally, and without reservation. He loved us when we were still lost.

Keeping these three things forefront in our minds, we can also love that way, and encourage greatness in our kids:

1. Instead of telling people how far they have to go, what if we tell them how far they've come? Often we strive to "encourage" our kids, or our friends, or our husbands -- and instead of doing that, the complete opposite is accomplished. Let's tell them what they have done already! Let's encourage them in how far they've already climbed! Because the road is long, and life has steep slopes. When we feed this kind of speech into others, they will remember how far they've come and be encouraged to keep going!

2. Tell people WHO they are, not WHAT they are. I gave an example to my table yesterday of my oldest daughter. She's 7, and her personality... challenges me. She can be disorganized, and irresponsible. She loses things and blames others for her problems. Often we tell her what we want from her: Be more organized! Take responsibility! And honestly, I don't see this helping her. She gets discouraged, and beaten down. I see her spirit wilt under the weight of our scrutiny. What I have rarely done, and should do MUCH more, is encourage her strengths. She is creative, and loving. She tries hard to please her parents and teachers. She protects and loves her sisters and brother. These are words she needs to give her courage when life is hard. Some tasks will always be a challenge for this girl; but I want her to be confident in her strengths so she has the energy to also take on those hard things. Bob Goff said it this way: "Stop manipulating -- don't tell them what you want, tell them what you see in them, what they are turning into." What we want for our kids, isn't always what they will be, and it isn't always what God wants for them.

3. If you want to bring out extravagant things in your kids, do extravagant things. Keep in mind, that what is extravagant in my life may look different than what it is in yours. Don't define "extravagant" according to another person or another family. You don't need to pull your kids out of school and travel the globe in order to love them like this! But wasn't that an amazing story to hear? It really did encourage me that nothing is impossible. I can wake up on a Saturday, and choose to say "Yes, why not?" to my six-year-old and her list of places to go that day. I can write notes of encouragement and put it in my kids lunches. I can say "so what?" to my list of to-do's, and instead play a game with my kids, even if it's close to bedtime. I can choose to say a big NO to fear, and YES to joy.

Also, I think as moms, we get lost, too. We forget that there were once extravagant things we wanted for ourselves! Paths, dreams, hobbies -- we put them on the back burner. And they've since gone cold.  Don't you think your kids would be encouraged to see you enjoying your life? Doing something brave, going somewhere further? I think so.

I'm going to think about that for myself, and I challenge you to do the same. Our extravagance doesn't have to take us to other countries, but it can still take us on journeys we may have never known.

Be brave, ladies. And even when this MOPS year ends, and this theme of "Be You, Bravely" is no longer, still be brave. Make it your life's work. Being a mom is no small task, and loving extravagantly is not the easiest path, and having goals beyond breakfast may threaten to overwhelm. Still, be brave. I'm right there with you. We all are.

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