September. The time of new beginnings, a new season, a new school year. While the calendar tells me that January 1 is when the new year officially begins, and the church year begins with Advent, I find that for all intents and purposes, it is September that feels more like a ‘new year’. It’s the time when I anticipate new beginnings, and think about how everything will be different and better than last year: This year I will be more organized. I will be more present and available to my kids, I will get the most important things done, I will get in more good family time and conversations, I will exercise three times a week, I will consistently make tasty and affordable yet environmentally friendly locally sourced lunches.
I start the new year with the best of intentions. But, just like most earnest new years resolutions, it only takes a week or two for reality to set in. I sometimes think of this reality as “the blur”. The run from work to school to extra curricular activities to homework to supper to clean up to bedtime routine to tv to sleep. And then getting up and doing it again. And again. And suddenly it’s the weekend, and you realize that yet another week has past and it’s the ‘days off’ which turn into ‘the days where you try to get done all the things you meant to do all week’ . And so you rush through the weekend blur: errands, visiting with friends, church and church activities, playdates, and everything that will help you be more organized to get through another week. And then Monday morning hits and it all begins again.
In the midst of this blur I am aware that I seek to look at life in a larger way, and I want my kids to do this as well. I want them, as Christians, to live their lives ‘out’ of their faith. I want their convicitions, their desire to follow after Jesus to shape who they are and all that they do. So how do we do this? How do we make our Christian faith the backbone, the foundation of our family life, rather than the ‘tack on’, that ‘extra’ that we add in as we are able? How do I help ensure that who we are as Christians is shaping us in our everyday life at work, school, home and church, in the midst of the blur? This is the question I continually (when not sleeping/working/parenting/) wrestle with.
On good days I am hopeful that this shaping is happening, in little, subtle, significant ways: The ‘deeper’ conversations that come up unexpectedly. The prayers together over fights with friends at school. The hours we spend with other families who also struggle with the same questions and yet continue to identify themselves as followers of Jesus. The times we do Night Prayer/devotional readings/read scripture. The times of worshipping at church with other believers, staking our lives on this belief, this faith that God is at work and present. I trust and pray that all of this is shaping my family. Is shaping me. And on the days when I am convinced it is not enough, that I am failing in the most essential parts of what it means to be a Christian parent I am reminded of the doxology we say at the end of every service: ‘Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. . .’ and this reassures me that God is at work. Even in the blur.
Thanks be to God.