Are we like the sparrows?

house sparrow

I tried to like them.  I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe no one liked them because they weren’t as pretty as the others, or because they were so common.

So I gave these little birds a fair shake.  Three years worth of fair shakes, actually.  I defended them a bit, studied up on them and yet, I ended up not liking them in the end.

These house sparrows, with their loud chatter and obsessive territorial behavior, proved themselves to be just what everyone had said: pests.

The thought that I can’t escape, that keeps nagging at me as I think about these noisy little birds, is that we Christians are often just like them.  Instead of being known by our love, we are often known for being noisy, negative, and possessive.  In the eyes of many, we are the community of “shoulds” and “shall nots”, instead of the community of Grace.  I include myself in this, of course.  My finger is firmly pointed my own way.

I don’t think there’s an easy way to be both truly loving and still share truth.  Our attempts come across as judgmental and conditional.  And aren’t they?  Jesus, being fully man and fully God, is the only one to ever truly love unconditionally and still share the truth.  Because He is truth.

So why can’t we just share Him?

Without the rules, without the loud, judgmental chatter, without the add-ons.  Become known as a community that loves.  Period.  If we know Truth as a person, we don’t need to argue and defend, just introduce.  And if we disagree with our fellow Christians on matters small or even not-so-small, isn’t it more important to show grace on the inside of our community than to judge and try to convince?

Each morning I hear the obnoxious chatter outside my window, and every spring I see the sparrows chase away yet another pleasantly-settled family of birds from our birdhouse and I sigh.  I wonder if I’m perceived like that, and the thought saddens me.

So today, this week, this month, I purpose to be the one who loves.  Even if I disagree.  Even if I am afraid.  Even if it’s not popular.  Even if it’s hard.

Because the more I read Jesus’ words and actions, the less I find a rulebook.  And the more and more real Grace becomes.

 

Photo credit: Evan Finkle

There are days

grace, dandelion

There are days when I am ablaze with purpose and confidence.

There are days when the Word nearly glows with passages for me and I can’t possibly show and speak gratitude fast enough.

There are days when I blow through item after item on my to-do list and collapse into bed at the end feeling vibrantly accomplished.

There are days when I feel all sunny yellow and bold orange and joy flows from all of my full places. 

There are days when I write, when I homeschool, when I paint, when I love, with vigor and enthusiasm, and all feels easy.

And yet….

There are days I just need to graciously and intentionally accept the other side of me without judgement.

There are days that I can’t see past item two on my to-do list without feeling overwhelmed and certain of failure.

There are days that my emotions lie to me so loudly that I have to force myself to even get out of bed.

There are days when even the simplest of tasks becomes a heavy burden sure to drag me to the floor.

There are days when my soul is pale and drained of all color, and I put down the crayons and leave the creating for another day.

And because there are days like this, and days like that, I choose to love myself differently depending on my need.  Like Jesus does.

I challenge you today to do the same.  

Can you accept the different sides of yourself, the opposing emotions?  

Do you know when to lower your expectations?

Aging is worth nothing, if we do not become more aware of ourselves, more forgiving of ourselves and more willing to embrace our frailties.  And someday I want to be able to say:

Yes, there were days like this and days like that, but on all days I extended myself grace.

Linking up with Thought-Provoking Thursday at Michelle’s.

Thought-provoking Thursday

Photo Credit

When you’re always performing

Yesterday my husband and I sang schmaltzy love duets and musical theater songs for a women’s group at a local country club.  This is not an unusual occurrence, though it doesn’t happen as often as it used to.  My performing days are, for the most part, behind me, and the times I sing now are both a welcome treat and a minor stressor in my day.

But I’m not just a performer on the stage, gauging my worth based on reactions in the audience.  I’m a performer at heart.  And spiritually speaking, this is a challenge to overcome.

How does a performer raise children who know they are valued by their being and not their doing?

As one who has always enjoyed applause and recognition for a job well done, be it on the stage or in life, I have always found it difficult to claim my worth based on who I am rather than how I perform.  Call it an occupational hazard, if you will.  Even in scripture, I have found comfort in the “law”, passages on “grace” always seeming a bit of an enigma.

Thankfully, in these eleven years as a parent, I’ve learned (am still learning, really- sometimes the hard way) that grace must be not merely a visitor in our home, but a loving, in-dwelling presence.  I find myself bit by bit able to shed the doing and embrace the being, both in my children and in myself.  It may go against the grain, but that’s what makes it such a miracle.  The freedom to give and receive grace comes only from the One who is grace.

So I forgive, and ask forgiveness; tell and show my children I love them just because they are, and try to live that myself in the face of a performing life.  My actions- especially the daily accepting of my own flaws in front of my children- will speak loudly into their hearts, into who they will become.

Yesterday, at our performance, I messed up.  My singing wasn’t perfect.  And while years ago I may have hung on to the mistakes for days, today I’m OK with it.  When the kids asked how we did, we told them it was good, but not perfect.

And life went on.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Thought-Provoking Thursday