Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Crazy Days of May

May. The month of chaos for families across the nation. Graduations and ceremonies, baseball practice, dance recitals, concerts…

May. The month of “Just eat it in the car! We’re late! Shoes! Go!”

The month for remembering the thank you cards and thank you gifts and cupcakes for this thing and oh yeah, it’s crazy hair day...

May in the ‘Hoo house is just like that, friends. It is not only Crazy Hair Day, it is just plain Crazy Town up in here. Last week, we had tee-ball practice, baseball games, football games, a track meet, and one of my sons had a concert at his elementary school. You guys, Elementary School Music. I just couldn’t. I mean, I did, but I felt like my brain was being shaken around inside of my skull for an hour because… 4th graders with recorders and drums.

I know many people watch those concerts and think, Oh. How sweet. They are such little angels. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I am more in the How long is this going to last? Please make it stop camp.

It’s not that they were bad. In fact, by Elementary School standards, they were amazing. But sometimes I forget that kids are learning, and I hold them to the same impossible standards to which I hold myself.

And I forget that my children are learning and their concerts SHOULD sound like kids plunking and squeaking and banging on instruments. Their baseball games SHOULD have errant throws and ugly swings. Their performances SHOULD consist of my kid crossing his arms and not singing because THAT IS WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING PEOPLE.

When I was a kid, my grandparents came to almost every game, meet, recital, and concert I had. They were there, beaming with pride, watching me compete and perform. And while most of my family consistently had opinions and suggestions about my performances, my Papa rarely had any advice to offer. He just watched, joyfully. He watched with a twinkle in his eye and happiness in his heart. He just showed up and enjoyed watching me grow up. If I threw the ball over the third baseman’s head, he’d chuckle. If I hit a home run, he’d clap once and wink at me if he caught my eye as I was trotting towards home plate. He just loved to watch me do the things I loved. He loved watching all of his grandkids the same way… with a bursting heart full of love. It was his JOY to love us.

You see, for years, I’ve prayed for my children. I’ve prayed that God would protect them and make them strong. I’ve prayed that God would change situations and temperaments and outcomes. I’ve prayed that the boys would do well at their games, meets, concerts, assessments. I’ve prayed that they would succeed. I’ve prayed that God would help them learn and become better.

And I don’t think that any of those things are bad things to pray about.

But I also don’t think that they are the most important things to pray about.

A few weeks ago, James Henderson, founder of Ashrei, a spiritual formation ministry in Latin America, told us that it is God’s JOY to love us.

God DELIGHTS in loving us and being our friend.

All I could think of was the twinkle in my Papa’s eyes when he would sit in the bleachers watching me play ball. I could see his face light up when he told a story. He delighted in loving us. And the feeling of being loved without agenda was the best feeling in the world.

Friends, since then, my prayer has been, “God, please help me enjoy my children. God, please help me delight in loving them. God, please help me see them the way You see them. Please help me to choose showing up with an open heart and open arms for them. Please help me to be more like You. Please help me love them without agenda. Amen.”

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time.