Friday, July 28, 2017

On Scripts and Sacred Ground

When the national news started picking up the story surrounding the Standing Rock reservation and its people protesting the building of a pipeline, the idea of sacred spaces and hallowed ground became mainstream language.  What was strange to me was the number of Evangelical Christians who balked at the idea that a group of people could be so tied to a piece of land for religious reasons.

The odd thing was, these were many of the same people who have made multiple ventures with their churches to "The Holy Land."  They walked the Via Dolorosa.  They sat on the Mount of Olives, stood on the hillside cathedral that was the church at Ephesus and stepped foot in the Jordan River where Jesus Christ was baptized.  They have wept at tombs which are said to hold the bodies of the saints and all because here was ground that was irrevocably tied to their story.

What is more, the Scriptures are littered with the concept of Holy Ground.  From Moses and the burning bush to the inner sanctum called the Holy of Holies to the ultimate goal of a "promised land" that was to be God's Kingdom on earth.

So why would we, a people so deeply rooted in the sacredness of space, be so opposed to someone else recognizing the legitimacy of higher power at work within the very earth we stand on?  Truthfully I'd love to say that it was just a misunderstanding and Evangelicals just like good business, but that's not what's going on.  More than anything, I believe we have lost the reverence of dominion in exchange for the profitable business of domination, forgoing all things sacred on this earth because "When we die, hallelujah by and by, we'll fly away."

In that short-sighted transaction we forgot that God did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.  The world is not some ramshackle building in the hood where we can throw bottles through the remaining windows and spray paint "We were here" as some sort of misguided evangelism vandals before condemning the house to build newer luxury homes for a select, gentrified few.  God is in the business of remaking the world, yes, bringing back to whole fruition and flourishing, but we are called to be stewards of what He started so when he returns to finish it he can look upon us and say "well done, good and faithful servant, welcome to the Kingdom of Heaven."

Moreover, we all have holy places in our lives that we don't define as sacred until they are taken away.  As Wendell Berry says "There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places."  Think back to the places in your life that helped shape you and form you and bring joy to your life.  Are they still there?  Are they still sacred?
My family has one of those places, Bluewater Covenant Bible Camp.  It's a place that when I smell the air and feel the breeze off the lake, a level of worry regarding the world around me lifts away.  It's a place where I can swim in the waters where myself and my siblings were all baptized and renew my faith in myself or humanity or the Creator of all of it with each and every drop of water drying in the sun.  My family's story is irrevocably tied to the place of Bluewater and as such it is a place that if an oil company told us they had to build a pipeline beneath our pristine lake, my siblings and I would be the first to stand on that beach, linking arms and saying "you'll have to go through us first."

But there is something else I've found about Holy places; first, they are everywhere.  The divinity of the Holy Spirit indwelling in humanity makes any space we dwell a place that can reflect the image and transcendence of God Almighty.  Second, they have the ability to tear down the things, tangible and non, that might aim to desecrate them.

Despite having a Holy space such as Bluewater where I feel connected and whole most of the time, there is one thing that always seeks to destroy the sanctity of this place.  That thing is the pervasiveness of one relentless script.  A few years ago when I was introduced to the concept of scripts, the things we play over and over in our heads that dominate our perception of what is happening around us, a lightbulb came on in my head and I have tried my hardest to keep that light on, revealing truth and stamping out darkness.  My entire life I have had one prevailing script in my head that has too often won out, spoiling the very good moments it was created to destroy.  That script is this - "I do not fit into my immediate (siblings/parents) family and they would function just fine without me."

First off, let me assure you that no one in my family has ever even insinuated this to me and I know this script is a lie.  But, as I'm sure you know, a lie repeated enough times begins to feel awfully truthful.  I don't remember a time where this script has not tried to force its way through into every family interaction I have had in my life.  By grace and hard work I have been able to point it out and silence it when I see it coming.  But this year it made its way into some place sacred, it came to Bluewater.

Noah, the boys and I were able to come to family camp this summer for the first time in seven years where we didn't have to take an airplane.  It was glorious to be able to pack up the car and drive up in the morning and get there before the swimming area opened for the day.  But camp with a nine week old as well as 2 and 4 year olds proved to be something unexpected; isolating.  Here I was surrounded by people I've known and loved my entire life and the endless refrain of naps and nursing left me feeling alone. In that loneliness the script came to corrupt, and steal, and destroy.  As we drove away I was feeling only grief, a grief I processed over the last four weeks with good friends and a lot of prayer.
So I made the decision to brave the possibility of isolation again and headed up to camp to help out my brother and sister in law for the day and I found something entirely different.  I realized that what I did not do the last time was simple, I did not allow the space to remain Holy.  I didn't confront lies with unbreakable truth. For me Bluewater is a space that looks almost directly into the throne room of God.  In a time where all I could do was feel too much, that holy fear that breaks down barriers and walls and every lie since the Garden felt like too much.  Nine weeks post-partum, I was ever-teetering on the brink of tears and I couldn't stand to feel any more, so I retreated to what I knew, a script that while untrue, still felt familiar.

Now, I'm writing this out on the deck of my brother's home at Bluewater.  I am reveling in the wholeness and acceptance I feel.  I am truly joyful.  I am braving the sacred in order to kill the script and what I've found is this:  When you can accept the transformative power of the sacred, it stands up to danger and untruth, linking arms with the Father, Spirit and Son and says "you'll have to go through us first."

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Relentless Now

I had a revelation this morning, I even had it before I had any coffee which in my mind makes it significant.
In just under five hours I'm leaving with a group of amazing women for The Gallery Covenant Church's annual women's retreat.  We will be going away for about 40 hours of time together and yet time away.  We will be eating together, laughing, worshipping, praying, and hopefully finding honest glimpses of the real people we do community with each week.

I am taking on a Saturday breakaway session.  I am talking about the idea of being present in our ordinary, every day lives.  It's a topic I am passionate about and believe strongly in.  I even preached a sermon about it before leaving the Pacific NorthWest to move to Minnesota.

But this morning I stood in my kitchen trying to catch my breath, literally, from an onslaught of emotion and exhaustion.  As the water boiled for coffee and used it's broken whistle to call me to attention, my youngest ran into the kitchen to tell me he was still hungry despite not finishing what I just gave him.  Also he had smashed bananas on his freezing cold hands which were promptly smeared down my previously banana-free legs, and just like that I was snapped back to the now.

I couldn't help but think over the last few weeks how I was going to teach anything about being present when I don't think I've had a solitary thought to myself in at last three weeks.  We've been plagued with illness and injury and death and taxes and in all of it, I am due with our third baby boy in 19 days.  I have responded to emails and text messages days after they were sent and I've lost my cool with the two little people who are nothing short of my heart walking around outside my body.

Shauna Niequist is an author I like a lot.  If I'm being honest she isn't revolutionary in an "I've never thought of that before" kind of way, but she speaks more gently like a mirror you can clean at your own pace, she reflects light and truth that you have forgotten.  In her book Bread & Wine she began a movement called Present Over Perfect.  In a totally unjust summary, it's giving permission to live in the now of your life and not the daunting past or future.  It's a way to hold your loved ones near without worrying about the dishes or the bathroom or the bills, if only for a breath.  Since then she has written the book Present Over Perfect, which I have yet to read only because I have about million books I have yet to read but I am excited to get to it, hopefully in 2017.

I love the idea of present over perfect.  I think it's a spectacular concept and I like to wish it on other people and hashtag it on my Instagram.  I like to dispense it as sage wisdom to those who are at the end of their ropes.  But I have not been able to understand why I cannot find joy in the present, why it is that the idea of "present" does not bring peace and I think that is where this morning's revelation came so poignant.

The reason is because the present is relentless.

My worldview is shaped as being a mom of young kids, and my present is not peaceful, it is not restful, it is constantly demanding my attention be torn into shambles between stolen legos and matching socks and who happens to be hungriest in that exact moment.  In fact, my attempt to write the previous sentence was interrupted by two arguments about whose banana was on the stairs and who got to walk around with the bucket on their head.  The bucket, I might add, was one used just in case my son got sick in his sleep again.

These moments are not marked by a stillness, steeping in the presence of the divine, and I think if we are more honest about what present means we will stop trying so hard to escape it for something better.  Maybe not even that, but perhaps we can call the onslaught what it is: terrifying.

Let me be clear, this is not a plea for placation or fishing for compliments.  This is just honesty, something I don't think we need to be lauded for, we just need to be more comfortable with its unresolvedness.  When we tell people in the midst of honest self-reflection that "it gets better" we steal the present moment from them in hopes that they will feel better so we feel better and the tension of the already and the not yet doesn't fall so heavily.  But I digress.

I guess this is nothing more than a quiet coffee with a friend.  It's a chance to tell you that if your "now" seems too daunting that present over perfect seems like more of a chore than you're willing to take on, you are not alone.  I don't have five steps for you, mama.  I don't have a magical play mat that will keep your children entertained for hours while you reflect on the good things in your life.  What I have is permission to feel too much and the understanding of the desire to escape into our digital lives for five minutes because no one on Facebook needs you to read them a book or wipe their butt.  What I also have is a mirror that slowly is beginning to reflect someone that looks like me, frazzled, tired, using her hospital bag packing list as a coaster and truly blessed beyond reason.
This is the tension we live in, our now is relentless, our lives have so much beauty that it weighs heavy and we are called to swim in it nonetheless.  So, I guess I'll see you in the deep water, we're all there too.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Adult Friendships must equal Adult + Friend

There are very few mom blogs or parenting articles you can read about "self-care" that don't talk about maintaining relationships with your adult friends.  Every post that talks about the stresses moms carry talks about "going out with girlfriends" or "having a wine night" or "grabing coffee and gossiping."
Sure, all those things provide a little bit of reprieve in the day to day monotony of building wooden train tracks and coloring pages four crayon scribbles at a time.  But the thing they don't tell you in those "let loose" posts is that all those things also have one other thing in common: they are exhausting.

Truthfully it can be a ton of fun to get dressed up and go out on the town until the inevitable fatigue of 10:30 hits.  Sometimes it is nice to open a bottle of pinot after your kids are asleep and try laugh with another woman about the fact half your makeup collection got dumped in the toilet.  And yes, the Starbucks inside Target can be a safe haven for venting frustrations while still thinking about getting your kids little gifts from the dollar section.  But, in order to have adult friendships as an adult and, in my experience, especially as a parent your friendships must be made up of adults who act like grown-ups.

Let me explain.

As a mom I spend 85% of my day uncovering whatever is wrong.  My sons often just walk in to a room sulking and expect me to get to the bottom of that moment's injustice only to find out that they are sad because lions don't like taking baths.  And if someone is truly hurt, uncovering the truth about who pushed whom or where that bruise came from is a tireless and entirely thankless endeavor.  If you need further proof, a few nights ago my 4 year old spent 30 minutes sobbing uncontrollably because I cleaned him up after he threw up at dinner.  When I soon found out the reason he was crying was because I wouldn't let him eat the chips he threw up on, he looked at me for a solid minute repeating, "you broke my heart."  Yup, that's right, I broke his heart because I didn't let him eat vomit chips.

There are days that my kids sit on the couch with such discontented sighs that I fear asking them what's wrong, not because anything is actually wrong but I don't want to lose my cool when they tell me it isn't fair that they can't earn their screen time privileges back after they lost them for clocking their brother in the head with a stool.  In fact, the non-descript sigh, or whine, or little "hmmm" sound is so exhausting that not long into our parenting journey I lost my cool on my husband for making the same sounds when he's reading and wants to tell me what he's reading.  I literally shouted "If you are going to say something then say it like an adult!  Don't make me ask you. You are not a child!"  I think I scared him with my mom voice because he was pretty quiet the rest of the night.  (Thanks for loving me, babe, you're amazing)
I spend my day raising adults.  We have two, soon to be three under the age of 5 whom we are hoping will some day grow up to be functioning and communicating adults.  We do this all. the. time.  I don't have time to decipher a sigh or a "Hmmmm" or a vague Facebook status.  If you're going to talk to me as a friend, be an adult.

This is not to sound arrogant like I have it all together and I'm the best at adulting and I never make mistakes.  I totally make mistakes, I have selfish and immature moments.  But what it does mean is if we are going to be friends, I need you to say what you're going to say.  I can't dig for it, I don't have the time or the energy to do so.

I truly believe one of the best parts of growing older is getting to choose where you spend your energy.  I have had this conversation multiple times recently with some of the best women I know.  We can talk openly and honestly about how we love getting to invest in certain friendships and not worry about whether or not we can be friends with everyone.  It's truly liberating when you can be honest with yourself about it.

Because when we get to the honest stage, we find out that "letting loose" means not caring what my house looks like when you come over because you're bringing pizza and a movie for our kids.  It means using my shirt as a spit up rag for your newborn without missing a beat and being totally ok when you put my kid in a time out.  It means knowing the difference between when I need a friend to sit with me in the mess and knowing when I need help doing dishes because I haven't seen my countertop since 2013.  It means wine night can sometimes be wine afternoon and it means having a trusting enough relationship to say, "I think you need to reconsider how often you have wine night."

It doesn't mean as a mom I want easy and flighty friendships.  It means I want to have friendships without drama and backbiting.  I want to be there in the big and the small without hesitation or explanation.  I want to say I'm sorry when it's needed.  I want to say I forgive you and move on.   I want to be adults about it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Grace and Pieces

So I changed the name of my blog.

I did that for two reasons, one of which is I couldn't actually remember the URL of my old one, so I'm guessing no one else could either.

The second, and more pervasive reason is because this is a title that has been moving through my head and heart for months now and I just couldn't shake it.
I sign each of my emails with two wishes, "Grace and Peace."  For years now I have realized those are the two things I need most in my day to day life and especially in my life as a mom.  I need time and patience and hope and for the love of all that is holy I need to find the 30 single socks that match the socks in my single sock basket.  I need time by myself, I need time with my husband and I need time with my Savior.  But because it is inevitable that I will fail at all those things, I need the grace to not dwell on my failures or the failures of those around me.  I need the peace to know that we are going to be OK, that the work is necessary and the hardships are strengthening us and that my children aren't going to remember that they have had nearly 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the last two months.

The idea of Grace and Pieces came because I always find that I write best out of the parts that are broken.  The great thing about broken pieces is that when I just accept that they are broken instead of exhausting all my energy convincing myself that everything is fine and nothing is broken, I can just tell the truth.  Sometimes the truth is hard, sometimes it is hilarious and every time it brings freedom.  John 8:32 says, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free," and that is beautiful.  But I like David Foster Wallace's take on it when he said "The truth will set you free.  But not until it is finished with you."  Freedom and brokenness are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are some of the oldest truths in the world.  So here I write, free and broken and totally OK with that.
I hope to write more, I always hope to write more and I hope to give myself grace when I don't write enough.

Grace and Peace be with you always.  Glad Advent to you all, may you give yourself grace and seek peace this Christmastide.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Please Stop Asking If We Were Trying, Because It Doesn't Matter

A few weeks back my husband and I joyfully announced that we are expecting our third baby in May. Four years ago we welcomed in our first little boy and two years later his brother arrived. Our home is busy and rarely clean and usually includes some sort of unknown crumb substance under whatever seat you happen to be sitting on, but it's great. We love our life and despite the past twelve weeks in which I have consumed pretty much only breakfast cereal and apples, we couldn't be happier that our family is going to include a new life in the spring.
In a world full of Pinterest-perfect baby announcements and glee-inducing gender reveals, there is no tutorial on how to steel your face or your emotions for the inevitable onslaught of questions regarding your now seemingly public body. Seriously, getting pregnant makes people think that they have filed all the necessary Freedom of Information Act papers and you must now reveal every. single. detail.

Aside from getting asked about how much weight you've gained and having to recount the things that make you nauseous while trying not to vomit at the thought of them, people always ask one insanely inappropriate and invasive question: "Were you trying for this one?"

This needs to stop.

First things first, the answer to your question is: It doesn't matter! A baby is growing inside me! A real human being is making his or her way into our family. And whether or not this journey has taken us years of turmoil and anguish or if it was a total surprise, this baby's life cannot be diminished by the ideal of trying or not. Furthermore, please never, ever add the words "or was this an accident?" to your question. My family is not an accident and no child ever deserves to be defined as one, watch your mouth.

Next, do you remember how babies are made? In case you forgot, they happen because two people had sex. So, if the frequency and protective states of our mutual sex lives is not a topic we cover often, this not an appropriate question to ask in line at the bank.

What's more is this question carries all kinds of connotations, purposeful or not, that are placed on my choice to have another child. In a brilliant article by Kristen LaValley called "The Shame of Baby Number Three" she expresses exactly what it feels like to have the judging gazes and questions from others about a third baby when you already have two young children. So often we feel like we are forced to tell you the third was a surprise or some how justify the size of our family to strangers who have no say in our household. Every time I am asked the question of "trying" while my youngest is crying and my oldest is starving and I haven't showered, I can feel the judgement radiating from whomever is asking. I know that they are questioning how we are going to fit three kids in our two-bedroom rental home. I know they see we don't make the kinds of money other people do. I know, I know, I know. But this baby is coming whether you feel the world is overpopulated or that we will never have a college fund for our kids or if three children will actually have to share a room.

New moms are subject to intense criticism from every angle and all we do when we question the purposefulness of a new life is heap another load of chastisement on women who already feel the weight of the world.

Moreover, non-moms are subject to the same scrutiny. I can't tell you how many friends I am desperately hoping, despite the odds against them, get pregnant and have healthy, happy babies.  On that day we will celebrate together with reckless abandon. Nothing is more heartbreaking than the look on a woman's face when someone callously asks if they "are even trying for kids" and that person has no idea about the torture that question brings up. Please remember the words you use are powerful and for someone who might feel powerless, questions about attempts to conceive or keep a child might just be their undoing.

Above all, we need to stop treating women's bodies as objects for public scrutiny as if your opinion on the size of my waist or the color of my hair or the kind of birth control I use, or don't, matters to my person-hood. Isn't this what all the debates and political rhetoric about "women's issues" truly is? I think we would just like our bodies not to be subject to the opinions, judgments and justifications of everyone else. Well, I digress.

So if you find yourself in communication with a newly expectant mama offer her congratulations, ask her when she is due, ask her if you can buy her a coffee, ask her surface level things you can discuss in line for a cup of coffee but unless you are best friends, maybe stay away from the question about conception.

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Cup Runneth Over: With Barkdust and Backwash

It is impossible for me to have a cup of anything to drink without my youngest son wanting a drink as well.  In fact, we have designated an Irwin Tools travel coffee mug as “Jude’s coffee mug.”  I cannot finish more than two sips of coffee without Jude saying “Coff, me?”  Seriously.

 Then it comes to the time we spend playing outside.   My boys start requesting to go outside to play around 9 am.  Naturally, we try and drink a lot of water.  And no matter what cool kid water bottles or special cups they ask for, it is inevitable that they will want my water cup. 

I have taken to specifically putting lemon juice in my water in hopes that it would deter them.  Nevertheless, Jude still takes his mud-laden hands and drinks.  Then, as he presses his mouth to the glass, the little pieces of dirt from the rock he was just chewing on fall into my water.  As he finishes taking a drink, a good quarter of what was in his mouth casually makes its way back into what was once a delicious glass of lemon water. 

But let’s survey the scene, shall we?

I am sitting in a camp chair that Noah and I received from my older brother Josh and his wife Natalie as an engagement gift.  Those chairs are nine years and four states strong.  I come from a family of people who are great at giving good gifts.  My cup runneth over.
That camp chair is in the shade of the garage of the house we live in.  Our house is the guest house on the property of another home owned by an amazing family from our church.  When Jon and Colette bought the house five years ago they took us to dinner and told us that when they saw this guest house they thought specifically of Noah and I.  We wouldn’t be able to live on the Eastside of Seattle if it weren’t for them, meaning we would have to leave the church we are called to.  My cup runneth over.
Speaking of home, our house shares a six acre lawn with the Aguirre family.  They love our kids and us.  We share meals and their boys have both been in our youth group from the beginning.  Our kids sit and dig in the lawn and when Miss Colette comes out they stand up to run and give her a hug.  (Except for Jude, who right now runs away from everyone.)  Our kids don’t know what it is to live in a cramped apartment with loud neighbors and a hard time getting outside.  They know that adventure waits outside their doors and that they have friends who want to play with them.  My cup runneth over.
While I sit in that camp chair I am reading Jen Hatmaker’s newest book For the Love.  That book was recommended to me by two amazing friends I have made in the last year.  Amy and Nikki truly make my life lovely and I couldn’t imagine my days without them.  Also, the book is fantastic and I love it.  My cup runneth over.

Next to me in the cup holder is a glass of once pristine lemon water, which now has flecks of mud and rock and bark dust in it.  It is still cleaner than the water that hundreds of millions of people fight to drink every day.  Not only do I have clean water to drink, my children have clean water to play in!  They can chase each other with it and make it into mud.  They can fill a pool with it and swim around without fear of disease or thirst.  My cup runneth over.
And then there they are.  My two remarkable boys, Soren and Jude.  They are prayers that were answered.  They are light and joy in our lives.  They are trial and perseverance.  They are patience just waiting to be discovered.  They are perfect and they are growing up too fast.  My cup runneth over.

I get to raise those boys with my husband, who loves me and them with reckless abandon.  He works extraordinarily hard because he believes in God’s church and what it means in communities and families and the world.  His hands play instruments and build projects and do manual labor and at the same time they lift little boys who are giddy to see him at the end of the day.  My cup runneth over.

I have been thinking a lot about perspective and gratitude lately.  Trying my best to remember the lenses I use to view the world and making sure each of them has as little distortion as possible.  When all I want is to sit and read my book in peace and my son spits barkdust in my water, my lens tends to be frustration and exhaustion.  But, on those good days when I try and don’t fail right away (which is most days), that lens is comedy and the truth that there is more water to be had and I’m glad he’s no longer thirsty.

Friends, our lives are running over with goodness and grace, and many of us have way worse things in our cups than just barkdust and toddler spit.  But if all we ever see is the error, we never see the water for what it is; necessary, life-giving and also just delicious. 

May you share your cup with whomever needs it.  May you spend purposeful time filling it back up.  May you laugh at what is left behind and continue to be filled up until it runs clean again.  May you find joy in throwing the water over your head and splashing around, appreciating the refreshing coolness of it.  
May we all have the courage to trust the cup will be full the next day.  May we have the courage to get silly and splash around in it at the end of the day.  And as you dance in the waves of grace, may your feet be washed from the dust of that day’s journey.   After all is said and done, may we save just enough to kneel before someone else and wash their feet as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

To The Not Yet Moms, I'm Sorry I Rolled My Eyes

Every single woman who wants to be a mom has, at some time, offered up a piece of advice to a current mom in hopes of being a helpful part of that mom's community.  And every single mom who has heard unsolicited advice from non-parents has smiled, turned her head, rolled her eyes and thought "You have NO idea."
I have done both.  I am sorry for doing both.  But most of all, to all you not-yet moms, I'm sorry I rolled my eyes.

Let me first say this, I have gotten great advice from not-yet moms.  I have a few friends who are straight up baby whisperers and I will listen to them every time because they possess some sort of voodoo magic that makes me want to use whatever potion makes them that patient, and smell that good.  But I have also been guilty, I mean really regularly guilty, of grumbling with my mom friends about these "other women" who have no idea how hard it is to raise littles.  I have muttered under my breath things that rational, well-rested me would have never said to anyone but hangry, tired, unshowered me is apparently less filtered.

I am sorry for two main reasons, and the first is the most painful.

So many, too many, of those not-yet mommies have been struggling through the unimaginable agony of infertility and miscarriage and the fear and loathing each month brings.  I cannot say I know even an inkling of that anguish.  It took us just a month to get pregnant with Soren and Jude came as a surprise that, if I'm honest, I wasn't prepared for.  I have never felt the pangs that come with celebrating the birth of baby who was born the same time yours was due.  I am sorry for your pain and I will weep with you when you weep, I will mourn while you mourn and I will do my best to never let the hardship of being a mom be the only thing you hear me talk about.  And if you need me just to stop talking, I will shut up and show up. no questions asked.

The other reason I'm sorry is a little more existential.

If I reject any advice every time, someone who doesn't fit my current life circumstances, offers up an opinion, thought or anecdote my community will be come exceedingly homogeneous.  There will be no diversity, no helpful exchanges, no room for grace or need for it.  There will only be like-minded individuals who rely only on their lack of individuality and not become interdependent on the thoughts, hopes, feelings, prayers and pain of others around us.   In that group, any empathy for others is quickly traded in for apathy because "if they only knew how hard this is" they wouldn't pray so hard to join the club.  It's a scary slippery slope and it's not one I want to go down.

The empathy for apathy trade goes the other way as well.  If I dismiss each effort to help given by a friend who doesn't have kids, their empathy for my "situation" will regress to apathy in not too long of time.

If we demand that only those who experience the same things as us get to speak into our lives with any sort of knowing or palpable empathy, we will only encourage apathetic stares and no longer claim the right to sympathetic looks.

We have to accept the "I'm sorry" statements from people who don't know what our current struggle looks like.  Whether it is parenting or the pain of childlessness, whether it's addiction, poverty, wealth management or weight gain, we must encourage sympathy and moreover empathy.  We are all hoping to raise these littles as a community, we are hoping that as the next generation rises they won't be bombarded by the stories of late, tales of hatred and fear that are centered around the unspoken demand for sameness.  And if we have any hope for these things we must be willing to hear the voices of those who are not like us and give them heed.

So to all you not-yet moms whose advice I have let roll off my back, I'm sorry if my actions caused you pain, I promise you I'm working on it.  Because this life isn't easy, but that doesn't mean yours must obviously be easier.

Let's choose today to foster empathy within our communities, let's keep them as diverse as we can, let's make space for disagreement, discussion and grace and hope and most of all love because we need it and so do our babies.