As I was driving home today from a friend's house my fourteen-year-old daughter reiterated words that I have heard my own heart say, "I don't feel like I am enough." I confessed my own heart's yearning and explained that is a lie so many women believe.
Why do we live in a society that feels like we are not enough? Enough of what I will never understand.
I have been reading Jennie Allen's book Restless, and I see how this "not enough" feeling is our own heart's restlessness. We want to have a purpose. We want to matter. We want to make a difference, yet we are a society driven by fear.
The Pain of Being Judged
For me I fear the judgement of others. I have all these big dreams that I am afraid to fulfill because I am afraid of what others will think. I have very conservative Christian beliefs, which is widely rejected by many, especially as our society becomes more divisive. What I want more than anything is to have an impact on the world around me. I think we all do.
Though I have these plans in my heart and in my mind, some since I was a little girl, I hesitate out of fear that I will be criticized. Fear that I will be told I'm wrong, even when I know I'm right. Fear that my abilities will not stack up to those who are more gifted and my failings will be pointed out. When it comes down to it, I fear man's opinion more than I fear God's.
There is a danger in that. I am also missing out on what God has planned for me if only I took those steps. As Jennie Allen stated, I end up feeling restless because I am not doing what I was born to do.
Recently the New York Times posted a well written article by a girl who tried to befriend the Florida shooter years before the shooting happened. It caused me to reflect on how we so often are quick to try to fix the problems by putting band-aids on them and not looking to the root of the problem. Let's ban assault rifles they say. Let's crack down on bullying! Let's have tighter gun laws!
Now, yes, I do believe that we need to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals and have background checks on all gun owners, and yes I do believe that we need to stop bullying, but the root problem is not about the gun laws or the guns themselves. It is not even about bullying.
Many kids get bullied, many contemplate suicide because of the bullying, many commit suicide as a result, but in school shootings there are deeper issues going on than JUST being bullied. The kids are not just seeking out revenge on those who have picked on them, they are taking revenge on innocent and guilty alike. There are many factors that go far beyond the things that happen at school. I am not implying their problems have arisen at home, but I am sure there are factors there as well that played apart.
For someone to go to such extremes in reaction to whatever triggered them to take this course of action was not just a single issue the child had. That child was hurting, and hurting for a very long time.
So how do we stop school shootings?
Well, I think it begins long before they are in high school or middle school. It begins when they are little. Yes, a good friend may change the course of that child's life, but often a child who is deeply hurt will reject friendship even if someone reaches out to them. We need to reach that child before their heart has hardened and evil has set root.
Our society is very individualistic as far as families go. Each family lives in a house with closed doors and blinds on the windows. We like our privacy and we like our alone time. We do not want to be inconvenienced with other's problems, for we each have enough problems of our own.
We want to rest when we get home from work and veg out watching TV. Someone has to feed the kids, someone has to do the laundry, someone has to drive the kids to their extra curriculars. We just don't have time for others.
Where the problem does lie is that we are so busy with our own lives and our own families that the families that are struggling often get overlooked. The problem kid at school may get extra services during school hours, but when they are home things get worse and worse. Maybe their mom is an addict. Maybe their dad is in prison. Maybe they were physically or sexually abused. Maybe they get very little adult attention due to long work days a parent works in order to pay the bills. Maybe they have a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed because people dismiss them as being that "bad" kid.
The kids struggle at home and at school and have no where else to turn. They feel helpless and hopeless and lost faith in any kind of good in the world. They have been hurt and violated. They feel alone and their hearts harden. They lose sight of their own value and eventually the value of other people.
So again, I ask what can we do?
The bottom line is every single one of us needs other people. More importantly, we need people to help guide us and encourage us. Of course we need God and to follow His word, but He designed us to need each other. Us who know God, can turn to God, but who are those who do not know Him supposed to turn to.
We need to seek out the families that need an extra hand. We need to seek out the kid who needs a positive adult role model in their life. We need to stop labeling a kid as bad, but as needing love. We need to stop blaming parents, but encouraging them to live healthier lives. We need to not give up on those who make loving them hard. We need to not let kids or parents or families slip through the cracks, because we are so busy looking at our own lives and making sure our kids lives are great that we sacrifice the community. We need to be a community who loves and supports one another. But above all else, we need to see this need as urgent. We need to find the families that need the extra love and help before hearts are hardened.
No this will not stop all school shootings or violence or suicide, but it certainly would help. I believe the true root cause is that these children have no faith, no love, and no hope. Years and years of hurt have caused these three things to have no value to them. We cannot give someone faith, we cannot give someone hope. These are two things they can only find by seeking God. But what we CAN do is give them love. The younger they are when they see that love, the easier it is for them to accept it.
Dear Mommy Who Feels Like They Are Failing,
You are not alone! I am currently writing this as my 20 month old spends yet another night in her room screaming because she does not want to go to bed. I have scoured the Internet, asked Facebook friends, picked experienced mom's brains and tried all the methods I could find. I was consistent with each method for weeks in hopes that I could sleep train this sweet baby. Twenty months later and she is still not sleep trained.
My mom friends are often like, "Just stick with it, it will get better." Seriously does it? I do imagine that she will not be screaming in her bed as a teenager, so yes, I imagine it will get better at some point. But are they meaning next week, next month, next year. How long will this "stage" last?
Honestly though, I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I feel like life shouldn't always be this hard! And this sleep thing, it is small beans compared to the other life events that are not appropriate for a blog post. I strive so hard to be doing the right thing, say the right thing, and be the perfect mom. Yet, days are long, and sometimes I just want to check out.
Then I do. I get on Facebook or bury myself in my phone or computer and just mentally clock out. Thankfully I have wonderful parents who dote on my children. Yet, despite having wonderful people to fill in the gaps of my parenting I am reminded by the verse.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
The Bible actually says "do not become weary in doing good." It's like he is specifically talking to the weary mom who packs the lunches, wipes the noses, kisses the boo boos. He knew we were going to get weary. He knew that life was going to be exhausting. Yet, these small things we do for our children are good. He does not just end it with the command to not become weary, but adds that if we do not give up there will be a harvest.
Too often I think we forget how important looking at our future goal is when raising our children. It's much easier to endure the two hour long tantrum when you know that the future has better things in store.
Now I know this verse has much farther reaches than a mom who is struggling with a fussy toddler, who is trying to make the right choices for her family and not succumb to bad habits or attitudes. But right now, this verse is what I need. I need to know that as long as I keep striving to raise her in the way she should go, no matter how difficult the challenges might be, that someday I will "reap a harvest."
So I will try not to check out as often, though I know I will. I will try to continue to raise my children in the way that is good and I will try to remember not to become overwhelmed with weariness because eventually there will be fruits of my labor. I will try to keep my eye on the harvest that awaits.
Today, bible study was about the mean girl. Okay, it was about more than that, but that is what had caught my attention, mostly because just that morning I felt like the mean girl when I said something thoughtless, and stuck my foot in my mouth.
Why do I do that?
It was one of those things you can't apologize for, because it would just make it worse. Yet, the moment it came out, I wanted to hit the rewind button on my life. Unfortunately, we do not come with one. So instead, I felt guilty praying that this moment in history will be forgotten by all. If only life was that easy.
I don't struggle so much being a mean girl, when it comes to angry words. My mean moments are those unintended moments that my mouth gets me in trouble. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.
I hate that about myself. Especially when you are trying to make new friends and instead of putting your best foot forward, it goes straight in your mouth!
I am starting a new Beth Moore bible study. Man, I love Beth Moore! She is so real. I love that she very animatedly admits her flaws and shortcomings. It makes me feel like I'm not so alone. It always surprises me when she mentions her own insecurity. I can't help but think, what does this women have to be insecure about?!? She is beautiful, outgoing, and has a fun-loving personality. But just that single admission, is probably what makes her so lovable.
This bible study is about Ester and why it can be tough being a woman.
I have to admit, I love everything about being a woman, and wonder what this study will teach me. In fact, the only benefit to being a man that I can think of is that they can pee standing up. Well, that and they don't deal with the ups and downs of hormones. Then of course what comes along with those hormones. It would be nice to forgo all of that. Oh yes, and then having to deal with the drama other women stir up. Men are generally easier to work with. (I say generally, not a rule.) Then I hear child birth is painful and pregnancy is annoying. Actually come to think of it, maybe there are more benefits to being a man than I thought.
This Christian mom is far from perfect, but continually strives to grow and develop. She is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction and focuses a lot on personal growth. She loves to share what she has learned through her studies and her own failures, as well as walks alongside other mothers as they learn together the ins and outs of parenting.