We had a good catch-up, she and I. Touching on the changes of the past six months, we compared notes.
Highlights, triumphs, growth. Challenges, hurts, failures.
As mothers, we shared the trajectories of our children’s lives and uncovered an uncanny commonality.
Our kids had moved into a new season. They had, to some extent, left the safety of the nest for trial flights into the neighborhood blue. And it was hard.
Yeah, we reminded each other of the necessity of fledgling practice runs while still under the shelter of parental wings. Better now, those painful landings, than later, we nodded. But gratefully, we shared that their newfound freedom hadn’t yet snapped a critical thread still binding them to home.
Amazingly, both our daughters had come to a self-sustained conviction of the need for genuine, Biblical friendship.
And we were heart-achingly thankful.
Years ago our families had each determined to raise our kids in a counter-cultural environment. Without a doubt, homeschooling was a central aspect of that decision. However, in the midst of sharing hearts and ideas, we were reminded afresh that there had been far, far more to our choice than simply administering spelling tests at the kitchen table.
We had been convicted that discipling our children’s hearts was of monumental priority over ensuring a prestigious college scholarship. Training their hearts to love God and to love others. To burn with a passion for the King of the universe. To give their lives for His call. No matter what. And for all of our bumbling, fumbling ways, we had hungrily sought to live out that vision daily in real time, empowered by the Spirit.
But there had been another component to that familial mission, one which hadn’t necessarily been purposeful from the outset. It had just happened. And it was beautiful.
In joining together with other families to laugh and love our way through the crazy calling, we had learned to do life together. To come alongside one another in the aching. To shout with joy over one another’s triumphs. To serve one another in the midnight days, grasping tight and reminding each another of inevitable, impending sunrise. To speak truth to one another in love, iron sharpening iron, embracing transparency. And as we adults had learned how to walk as the Body of Christ, our kids had been watching.
So when the youngers had butted head-to-head on some all-important issue like who was going to call shotgun on the way to the museum, we had negotiated peace terms.
Not pacification, but capitulation.
I lay down my life for you. I make you more important than myself.
Because in this pulsing organism called the Body of Christ, there should never be voluntary amputations.
We hang in together. Forgive and forgive again. Love without measure.
And when the youngers became olders and the stakes were higher, we trained by flawed and heartfelt example.
Move towards the conflict. Work it out in humility. Love extravagantly.
We don’t live for this moment; we live for the upcoming generations. We are leaving a legacy upon which you can build, restoring the foundations of the preceding generations so that our ceiling becomes your floor.
That became our battle cry, our shout of triumph over the divisive schemes of the enemy.
But in the recent throes of change, our daughters had circled back to share the pain, the ache that arises from being hit with the realization that so many leave this treasure of covenantal community buried deep in the pages of the Book.
Don’t bring my stuff into the light. Don’t judge.
Don’t call me out on destructive behavior. Don’t mess with my image.
Unforgiveness. Broken relationships. Deception.
Hypocrisy and complacency.
I’m here for you until you offend.
And their souls were resounding with the cry of James 3, “My brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be so.”
And our souls were aching with the fact that this iron-hard earth leaves little room for truth, even in the young ones, and to learn it soon is oh-so-troubling but just a necessary piece of living.
“In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)”
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22,23)”
I arrived home that evening and snuggled up on my girl’s bed, and we talked. About it all. About the hard and the good. About the breakings and the blessings. And I left her with the only treasure I have to offer.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. (John 15:12,13)”
We pressed into prayer and into the laying down. And she embraced anew the inestimable jewel of covenantal community, even if lived out by just one.