Paradise Lost and Found

25
Aug
2014
Written by:   |  Found in: Parenting  |   no Comments

Paradise Lost and Found

  Twenty-five years ago I had a plan to change the world.   It began unfolding in the middle of a spectacular course (you may have to trust me on this) devoted solely to John Milton’s magnum opus, “Paradise Lost.”  I suddenly knew I had to be a literature major.   Only moments after this grand epiphany, I also realized I might end up having a hard time paying my rent.  Few employment ads begin with “seeking comprehensive understanding of the conventions of epic poetry.” Then, I realized that I could become a teacher!  And, as long as I had several roommates and developed a healthy appetite for ramen noodles, I could even pay my rent.  I was going to make a difference in this life.   I finished my Bachelor’s; I finished my Master’s; I found mentors in my school district and university who were going to help me impact the face of public education and get my name on lots of peer-reviewed articles.   The whole rent-paying, ramen noodle-eating problem worked itself out when I fell in love with and married a guy who wasn’t also a teacher.  Twelve credit hours into my doctorate program, I learned I was pregnant with our first child.  And, a baby changes everything.   It didn’t take a lot of soul-searching to know that while there were other moms who could juggle these dual roles, I wasn’t that capable – one of my spinning plates would fall.  I stepped out in faith that derailing myself professionally to become “just a mom” had to pay off somehow; I could still change the world, right?   Throughout this journey, I have definitely struggled with insecurity that I may be changing the world, but certainly not for the better!  Don’t tell anyone, but my kids aren’t perfect.  They don’t always get A’s.  Or B’s.  They don’t always share.  Or speak nicely to each other.  They don’t always make the right choice.  Or the choice that indicates they have a single functioning brain cell in their head.  Sometimes I parent out of fear.  Or anger.  Or image-control.  On many days the Enemy whispers that my choice was a worthless sacrifice.   But, here’s what I know that I do right – I, along with my incredible husband, have intentionally created an atmosphere of grace in our home.  A place where you can get B’s (or, um, not even do quite that well sometimes),  forget to share, make the wrong choice, lose your temper, let fatigue or frustration get the best of you.  Where “I’m sorry” is as prolifically spoken as “I love you.”  Where there are always consequences, but always a clean slate.  Where the content of your heart is more important than the content of your academic portfolio, the brass on your trophy shelf, or the likes on your Facebook status .  A place where my kids are loved with an earnest, albeit imperfect, attempt to mirror how God loves us – with no regard for what we have done or not done, but simply because He has chosen to love us.   My name never made it onto any peer-reviewed publications.   No one at the Department of Education knows who I am anymore.  My kids have no idea their mom used to have different dreams.  I don’t care.  I only care that they recognize the familiarity of God’s grace when they see it – that it looks like a perfect version of what I tried hard, but often failed, to reflect.  So that they will always know the real story of Paradise Lost and how we were found and redeemed.   That’s what will truly change the world.    

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