Before Zach and I were married we had many discussions on what we hoped to cultivate within the walls of our home. We envisioned children and personalities that would fill the rooms as well as the ministry that we would welcome. Something that was consistent among all of those conversations was our desire to create within our home a heart to nurture the broken. I have heard many parents talk about how important it is to protect their children from things that might harden or scare them. We remove people and things that have the potential to “expose” them to a life that is different than what we see they need. I believe while that is healthy in part, it can also be destructive. Parents teaching children to avoid anything or anyone that might make them feel uncomfortable. We purpose to build our houses in communities away from “poor” neighborhoods. We judge the value of a town by how low the poverty rate is. I recently watched a real estate commercial about a perfect property on paper, but upon arrival it was in the “slum” of the town and for the buyer it was an automatic no. I get it. I am by no means saying putting yourself in the middle of harm is a wonderful thing, but what we have to be careful about is unintentionally sheltering our children from experiencing things that will connect them to their calling.
When I was 14-16 years old my parents were foster parents. It was hard for them and at times overwhelming, but looking back for me it developed this deep seed of hope. I never expected myself or my husband to choose foster care but we did, and it has changed our world. What if my parents would have said no out of fear? For those that know my story, what if they would have listened to every voice that said don’t do it when it meant housing my very broken biological father? My life would look very different. My children’s lives would look very different.
I am not a mom that shops organic. Half the time my children have wore the same smelly shirt and pants 2 days (if not more) in the same week. We rarely make it anywhere on time and watch a lot more tv than the specialists recommend. My kids know the words to a lot more Justin Bieber, John Lennon, and Taylor Swift than they probably should. Tell my 19 year old self that and she might have cried. See, somewhere along this road of adulthood I was led to believe that a “christian” home should look the same for every family. As a person I have never really fit into any box, so to believe that my family or my children should wasn’t only a lie, it wascrippling. Believing that we should raise children in this box of protection while not allowing them to experience any kind of pain or real life is overwhelming. One of the most beautiful gifts I was given by my parents was the gift of love. Yes they loved me, but more importantly they loved other people as much as they loved me. They exposed me to a love that wasn’t just talked about, but a love that was lived out. My children are not your children. My children are not called to the same life, goals, or ministry field as yours. My children are mine and were selected purposely by God himself to by mine. I consider that one of the highest honors I have been given. I pray my husband and I steward them well, and part of that stewardship means teaching them to know they are equipped. We have purposed to cultivate in them the truth that we are not just an “Acts 2” church, we are an “Acts 2” home. We will walk out discipleship, pain, love, anger, death, hope, hopelessness, forgiveness, and every other challenge with boldness and faith. I pray that they walk through each of these things in our home so that they can see Jesus do things that develops not only a deep faith, but personal history in their lives. I pray that they see Jesus as real and powerful because of what they saw him do in their living room as children. I pray that we release our children into every situation not with the fear of what might hurt them, but with the anticipation of who will be set free because of their boldness. We are not raising a generation of fearful children. We truly are raising a generation of children who are so unique it throws people for a loop. I say all of this with the hope that your thoughts might have been challenged. Religion says live in this box with these rules and beat them with these rules. That is the world that makes every parent and child inadequate and hopeless. My Jesus says that relationship is valued above any rule and His grace is his ability covering my inability.
To those who may feel discouraged and alone, I promise you that you aren’t. I have spoken to countless moms who fear doing something different because of the judgment they feel by everyone else. I do know that while some of that “maybe” just be our own minds, I do believe some people are just immature. They themselves might be trapped into things put on them as children.Never feel pressure to raise your children or run your home different than the way you do. You were purposely selected to love the family you have been given and you are qualified to do just that. Don’t be afraid of inviting the broken into the lives of your family, don’t be afraid of allowing the wounded into your home, you will probably be shocked at how valuable your children are to their process of healing. They carry love in ways we can only imagine. May we never build walls around our home to keep the scary out, but invade the atmosphere so deeply that the scary gets healed. And in case you still aren’t convinced in the words of my wise husband“May we be a church not just from a city, but for our city.” I would like to add, “may we be not just a family in a city, but a family for our city and its people.”
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