Own it

We have a big festival here every year that celebrates the arts.  James went downtown with a friend on Friday night.  Later, I decided I would go downtown and search for some creative inspiration.  Having already arrived at home, James offered me the pass that he had purchased and used earlier in the evening.

I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. It isn’t a numbered pass … just a little pin that you wear on your shirt. No one would know we were “sharing” it. But,  it seemed to me to be dishonest.  Using it might be the same as his sharing a movie ticket with me …. for a movie that he had already seen. Right?  He paid to get in – but now, I must also.

I’m not sure why this authenticity/honesty thing is so important to me  … but, it is. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched people be dishonest and hurt people they love. Maybe it’s because I’m always evaluating my own actions and reactions.  Maybe it’s because I’m seeing my oldest children stretching their wings …. strengthening their muscles …. stepping into their adult personas and I want to above reproach.

With this adult freedom, choices have been made that …. well, that a moma’s ♥ might not choose.  Both my kids have picked up cigarettes. I don’t like cigarettes. They know that. Glory has since stopped … and James … well, he’s not sure if he really wants to or not. But, I’m not going to disown them because they spend their hard-earned money on Marlboro’s any more than if they spend it on bubble gum.

Ya know what’s been harder for me?  The fact that they have hidden their cigarettes …. not from me, so much …. but from certain others.

A perfect example:  the two of them went to the grocery store together some weeks ago.  They were sitting in the car smoking cigarettes just before they went into the store, when a mother of a friend pulled into the parking space beside them. They slouched down in their seats and hid themselves AND their cigarettes. 

So, in their heart of hearts, they knew that what they were doing was not … good. Because, if they had been holding a coke and knew that this mom didn’t like coke, but preferred pepsi, they still wouldn’t have hidden their drink.  But, this was more than that. I think they know that cigarettes are a bigger decision than the “coke or pepsi” debate.

Turning the spotlight on myself, I’m also struggling with an internal brawl.  My iPod looks like it belongs to a schizophrenic.  I have music from Veggie Tales, Pit Bull and James Taylor, Josh Groban, The Black Eyed Peas and  Crosby, Still & Nash on my playlist.  You can find Ella Fitzgerald, Lyle Lovett,  DJ Khaled and Toby Mac in my band list. I have classical, country, folk and alternative choices galore.  There are a few songs – very, very few …. but still some – that I don’t want Joy singing. There are several songs that I couldn’t…. well, wouldn’t want to sing …. in front of … a Bible study group.

So, there I am ducking down in the car hiding my ….. cigarettes …… I mean my ipod ….. and hoping that the mom driving into the parking space next to me in the Kroger parking lot won’t see/hear my contraband.

I’m just being honest here.

If I were to choose a verse of scripture to have Jesus personally explain to me, I would ask Him to tell me HOW I can do what Paul instructs and be “all things to all people.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) Because, to come alongside a Mennonite, I must wear a modest dress and head-covering. But, in doing so, a student sitting next to me in class at school would not be able to find any way to relate to me. How can I be “all things to all people?”  I’m not sure. This verse has been perplexing to me … for decades … for.EVER.

But, what I do know, is that I must be comfortable with who I am today. I must let the Spirit of God lead me and remain open and teachable … wherever I am.  In the past, I have worn only dresses, home-schooled my kids and ground my own wheat to make our bread.  At other times, I have done well to find clean shorts for everyone and get Kraft macaroni and cheese on the table. Right now, I’m a single mom in school with two young adults stretching their wings and a pre-teen with an irreverent mouth who is spending her days in the halls of a public school (cringe).

And right now, as never before, it means more to me for my kids and I to do our best to be authentic. If we’re going to smoke, let’s do it in the open. If we’re going to have a margarita, let’s not hide it. If we’re going to listen to Uncle Kracker, let’s be comfortable with it.

Or let’s not do it at all.

Own it. Be yourself. Be real. Be authentic. Be honest.

So, may I ask you a question? Where are you struggling right now? What are you hiding from others … but enjoy in private?  And more importantly, do you hide it because the Spirit of God is convicting you that it’s not okay?  Or do you hide it because of fear of man?

10 thoughts on “Own it

  1. very very very good writing. i know how it feels to have young adults stretching their wings…and i hope the very best for them no matter what they choose. we’ve loved them so long…please Lord protect them from all we’ve tried so hard to protect them from. May they walk upright lives, submitted to the Most High!!!

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  2. A couple of years ago I finally gave up smoking, perhaps forever this time, and at 61 years old no longer have interests/habits that I cringe about.

    Until I quit though, I hid my smoking from my three little grandkids…not always well. I would sneak outside to the patio courtyard at the front of their home to indulge when we stayed with them on vacation and to our garage when they were staying with us. Our middle grandchild would occasionally ask me if I smoke or make comments about smelling smoke when I would come inside but I was always able to change the topic to dodge the question because I would never directly lie to them…never.

    So here is another BIG question for you who writes so magnificently about such philosophical issues. Is there truly a difference between lying when asked a direct question and dodging or changing the subject to avoid answering?

    I would still perhaps contend that in the example above it is okay to do so because my true desire was to NOT model smoking for my very young and impressionable (they adore me!) grandchildren…or is that simply a lame justification for pseudo-lying?

    OMG! As I typed in my blog address below I realized that I do still have something that I monitor the content of very closely…my blog. Because my 11, 9, & 7 year old grands along with many acquaintances in our small, close-knit neighborhood do read my blog, I avoid any controversy or adult content…I strongly self-sensor my blog. A much more sanitized version of my self and thoughts appears there. Don’t think smut here, think political and philosophical opinions.

    And to your final questions, I’ve never feared God only man. Personally, in spite of my early religious exposure, I could never believe in a vengeful God, only a loving and forgiving God.

    I didn’t start out to write a treatise this morning; I apologize for the length of this reply.

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    1. Bev, first: never apologize for the length of your reply. It’s so nice that you even take the time to read and comment. Bless you for sharing your heart.

      And, so nice that you’re even honest to admit that quitting smoking this time is “perhaps forever.” That’s huge.

      I understand censoring your blog. Unless you are truly misleading people, then you are right to do so if you know that grandbabies/children are reading.

      But, your “BIG” question …. hmmmm….. I’ve been chewing on this since you first penned (typed) it.

      I think we know in our heart when we are answering a question whether we are answering to protect (like, not giving more information than a child really needs on a sensitive, adult subject) and answering to cover for ourselves. If those children were aware enough to ask about your smoking, then they knew. Even in dodging the question, you were answering them.

      In this particular case (and those similar), I would say it’s important to be honest. I would probably have said that I was, in fact, smoking and then asked them what they thought about it. Assuming they would have said that it was not good for you, I would have thanked them for asking about it and then asked them to pray right then with me to quit and to later remind me and check back with me … hold me accountable. I would also ask them to be forgiving if it took me a long while to stop, because I’m a “Super Grandma” but .. I’m only human and I struggle just like they do. This could lay the foundation for some habit that they may try to stop in the future, having watched you walk through it.

      Of course, I say all this and want you to know that it would be hard … but I have spent years asking God to help me have a contrite heart when He uses people to call me out. I’ve learned to embrace that big defensive wall that goes up when we are called out on something …. it’s an indicator that God is working on my heart about something. I’m thankful for it, although it’s often laborious to knock down, one mortared brick at a time.

      Thanks for offering that thought provoking question. Do you have any further thoughts?

      By the way, now might be a good time to go back and talk to the child(ren) that questioned you. You could say that you realize that you were covering up for something that you knew in your heart was bad and that you should have been more honest with them. And then ask them to keep you accountable and pray for you and with you. That way, you’re opening a door for conversation and letting them know that even adults and Grandma’s struggle.

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  3. Great post! I totally agree! None of us are perfect, let’s just be who we are. Some of the music I listen to would be frowned upon by some of my friends too. But I love music! It makes me smile. And just because I listen to a song does not mean the words reflect MY feelings and ideals, it just means I am appreciating someone else’s creativity. For someone else, the same words of the same song might cause them to be tempted to sin–and so they shouldn’t listen to it. I think we should all strive to know ourselves, and also be sensitive to others. It is a fine line we walk, to live in the world and not be of the world. A very thought-provoking post….thanks!

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  4. Again I am a day late but wanted to chime in. It is hard to begin life again in adulthood and also find who we are as young teens. I know my life choices would make some cringe also but ultimately I am the one that has to live with my decisions. So I like to sing, I love to dance, I like to have a drink from time to time (maybe sometimes more than one). I am anxious on the sidelines as I too watch a young adult spread her wings and learn to fly 150 miles away from here. Yet, God must right each of our own stories of redemption. I believe he walks closely with us even in our wanderings. And I remember an except from “The Shack” when the character that represented the Father was listening to angry rap music and when question by the character that represented the Spirit questioned, the reply was something like I love these children of mine too. Many radio stations are preset on our dial both in the house and in the cars.
    Thanks for sharing your heart,

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