I walk in the door and am greeted by squealing shouts of “Mommy’s home!!” Milo reaches me first; he’s growing so tall he almost bowls me over. Sophia arrives second and clings to my leg. Theo toddles over and tries to push Sophia out of the way so I will pick him up. He’s not strong enough to push her over so he pulls her hair. She cries, squeezes my leg tighter and shouts, “THEO! (It sounds more like FEO!) She’s not just YOUR mommy! She was MY mommy FIRST!” Theo tries to push her off again and, when he is unsuccessful, he screams LOUDLY.
I glance over at David who smiles and says, “Welcome home!”
This scene plays out every time I arrive home and it strikes me that, from our earliest age, we worry about having enough of what we need. We worry whether there is room for us, whether we will always belong or if someone will replace us. It seems part of our human condition to feel anxious about our place, rank, and survival.
The story Scarcity tells is, “Be very afraid. There is not enough for you.”
I’m trying to teach my kids a different story, a better story.
In moments filled with anxiety, tears, and rivalry, I give each child a turn with my attention. I say things like:
Hi. There’s enough of me for you.
There’s enough love for you.
You will always belong.
No one can take your place.
You matter to me.
It’s a small gesture that helps tell a significantly better story. A story of abundance.
When Mother Teresa received her Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, someone asked her, “What can we do to promote world peace?”
“Go home and love your family.”
What if loving our families well and telling our kids the story of God’s abundance is our greatest act of peacemaking?
In response to last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, I’ve read numerous articles and reflections from a variety of sources. One that intrigued me was a feature story on a reformed white nationalist, Christian Picciolini. At the age of 22, Picciolini renounced ties to the New-Nazi movement and co-founded a nonprofit that advocates for peace. In the interview, he shared his opinion on why people join hate groups:
I think ultimately people become extremists not necessarily because of the ideology. I think that the ideology is simply a vehicle to be violent. I believe that people become radicalized, or extremist, because they’re searching for three very fundamental human needs: identity, community and a sense of purpose. (“A Reformed White Nationalist Speaks Out On Charlottesville,” NPR.org, 8/13/17)
A sense of purpose.
This is what we, as human beings, crave.
This is what we NEED to be our most loving, compassionate selves.
I’m proud to be at Grace because we are committed to teaching kids their identity as beloved children of God.
We are committed to providing a community where kids are safe to be their full selves. (Have you seen the 3rd floor? Written on the wall is the message, “You belong here.”)
We are committed to equipping kids to serve and to participate in God’s redeeming work in the world.
This is who we are and what we value!
We invest a lot of resources into our ministry with children, our ministry with teenagers, and this fall, we are adding additional resources for YOU, the parent (or grandparent/aunt/uncle/guardian).
We want to equip YOU to do the hard work of parenting because parenting IS peacemaking.
Here are a few of the opportunities we have slated for the fall: (You can also read more on the church’s website!)
More Than Words: 10 Values for the Modern Family (Erin Wathen)
The term “family values” is used as a weapon in today’s culture wars, but Wathen goes beyond one or two loaded social issues to offer us ten values that promote a wholehearted lifestyle of compassion, hospitality, justice, peace, and belonging.
This will be a book study and a sermon series at our 10:45 River of Life worship. Begins August 20th
Parenting by Connection 101: A Parent Resource Group
Gather with other parents in a safe, judgment-free group—feel supported and empowered to parent as your best self. Participants can expect to learn more about how children’s emotions work, what children need from adults, and how to help children deal with emotional upsets. (Side note: This group transformed my family for the better. It’s life-changing!) Begins September 10th
Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges
Motherhood is hard, but it doesn’t have to be lonely! This group serves to support moms and will equip mothers to face common family struggles. Begins September 14th
Peace Academy: Enough to Share
Peace Academy is a program offered to ALL elementary students during the 9:15 a.m. Sunday School hour and is intended to be a family affair. While children receive age-appropriate instruction around issues of peacemaking, parents are invited to attend a special session in Grace Gathering.
(This is my seventh year leading Peace Academy and the feedback from families overwhelmingly asserts that connecting with other parents is the most helpful part of our Peace Academy program!) Begins October 1st
Don’t have children? Your children are grown?
Your witness is still essential!
When I baptize babies in River of Life, I tell the congregation they have been chosen by the baby’s parents to be the Church. We don’t have to be perfect, but we DO have to show up.
Our kids at Grace need you to show up…. they need Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, Confirmation mentors, and a friendly face on Sunday morning that says, “You matter to me. You will always belong here.”
I believe Mother Teresa that peace begins at home.
I believe Christian Picciolini that our kids are looking for identity, community, and purpose.
I believe we at Grace are positioned for just such a time as this.
It’s time to tell our kids the story of God’s abundance and we need all hands on deck.