Monday, February 09, 2009

Life's Not Perfect

Well, it's raining today. And in Minnesota, rain in February usually means ice. The school shut down at 10 this morning so it's kind of nice to have everyone home especially since I am sick and Mike is doing most of the work!

Last week a young family was brought to mind. They are in the early stages of establishing their home. They got married, had two babies and bought a house in a short time. Without coming out and saying it, they seem to believe that their life is and will always be perfect. And they wonder why others can't seem to get it right. There are those first few years you you seem to float along in life and think everything will be perfect. But it seems like for everyone, there comes a point where you run into a problem and realize that the perfect life is not reality.

I ran into that problem several years back. We had marriage issues, money issues and well I just couldn't believe that things weren't working out the way I had dreamed it. We were going to be happy, always have money, have the perfect kids and house. Mike would do whatever it took to please me and life would be good.

Some of my friends have dealt with a depressed husband who can't hold a job, a child with major medical and behavioral issues, infertility, big-time real estate disasters and the list goes on and on.

When those cracks in the armor start getting bigger it can be shocking and horrifying, but when I look back at our own life I think it makes for a deeper bond, a better grasp of life and suffering and it revolutionizes the way we relate to God.

As I was thinking of this person who hasn't hit that point yet and probably won't take it too well, I am envisioning total devastation when perfection can't be reached. I couldn't help but think about my own kids and how to prepare them for life's inevitable disappointments.

As parents we tend to try to make everything "happy" for them. We work hard to involve them in activities, have their friends over, buy them the "right" clothes or toys. And that's mainly because we love them and want to do our best for them, but also because we want them to fit in and protect them from the pain of rejection.

I think preparing them for life's disappointments involves, not purposely disappointing them, but allowing them to feel those naturally and not always trying to fix things. If they are having a problem with a teacher or a friend we need to help them work through it, not ride in a make it go away. If they want to buy something that we can't afford, we can teach about how material things are not the focus of life and the answer to our problems - not necessarily reach for the credit card. There will be mean people. I still deal with mean people in my life now and it's my job to walk them through it, not hide them from it.

And the bottom line is, there will be disappointments and failures we can't stop or fix. I remember when I didn't make the cheerleading squad. The girls who made it got flowers in their first hour class to tell them which sport they were cheering for and I didn't get one. ( If only they could see me swing dance now - ok that would not help.) I heard that there were just too many girls and not enough spots. My parents didn't storm down to the school and demand I be given a spot. It was just one of those tough learning experiences. But you have to have those to learn that not everything is going to go your way.

I also want to teach them to not let fear of failure stop them from trying. That's how we grow. If they learn to have their hearts firmly fixed on Jesus and His perfection, those dissapointments can be bumps in the road not a drive off a cliff.

I want to focus on the idea of having a mature, Christ-loving adult at the end of this journey, not a spoiled brat in an grown-up body who thinks everything should always go their way.

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

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