So, we need to recap here for a sec, since I have been a little bit all over the place over the last few days.
I’ve been on a warpath lately: I want to start living an exciting life of expectancy and miracles again, the kind my husband and I used to live before we had children. It was easy before we had kids. But those scalawags, for all that I love them, they have made it really hard to want to do anything but dive under the covers of my bed and sleep the sleep of a worn-out parent.
There ain’t much expectancy or miracle in living like that.
This warpath started being cut in a giant swath through the jungle of parenthood because, “in my spare time” (ahem), I decided to start writing a blog in French, too. While I thought I would be covering the same topics I wax poetic about here, it ended up taking a completely different direction: I have been telling the story of how exactly we landed back in France in 2007, although at the time we had zero intention of ever living in France again.
I don’t know that I expected people to actually read it, but I had been getting all kinds of comments from people here in France that they couldn’t understand anything I was posting in English, and why don’t you ever write in French? So I started, and people have been reading it.
It’s been quite the adventure. I even was the “surprise guest” at a breakfast party that some readers hosted. Me? A special guest? It was the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced.
Long story longer. The more I tell those stories, about how amazing God had been to us in those years before we moved to France, and in those early years here, the more dissatisfied I became with what I was currently living.
So, a few weeks ago, I sat down with God and had a powwow. “Listen,” I said. “I want that life. The one where you were revealing yourself to me in the tiniest details, the one where I knew how much you loved me because you spared nothing to show it to me. The one where I was happy, truly happy, even though we had nothing.” Then, I asked that fatal question, “What do I need to do to get us back there.”
And, you may remember, but the answer was, “You need to serve your family with joy.”
Which of course, royally pissed me off. Because I wanted to hear, “Sell everything you own and go back to Uganda,” or, “Stop everything you are doing, go back to school and study psychology.” But that was not what God said to me.
And since then, I have been trying to parse through what joy means, how to serve my family with joy, where joy comes from, what joy is not…
Okay, so we are pretty much caught up now, I think.
The Scalawag Love Language
Numéro Uno on my 22 in 22 is to love my scalawags each according to their Love Language. You may recall me mentioning, but my eldest has a penchant for inventing never-ending stories (sound like anyone else you might know and love and be reading right now?).
He could, and this is no joke, he could talk for hours. He has talked himself hoarse. He calls this “telling his movie”, and he performs all his own Foley work, with a special emphasis on everything that is the sound of laser guns. (pew! pew! pew!)
I’ll be honest about something. This is something that I have, in an aside to my husband, mentioned that I found soûlant–that is, makes you feel drunk in the not good way. You feel like you are drowning in beer. Like you are reeling and can’t breathe. Can the child not see that his story is killing me?
Genuinely, however, this child experiences the telling of his story as an act of creativity. He lives to be able to tell his stories. It’s like back when I asked him to play with my hair and for three days he did nothing but that. He’s a creative, like me, who finds something he loves and can’t let it go until all the creativity is out of his system.
The kick in the butt
So here I was, innocently scrolling through Instagram as one does, and I landed on this gem from a writer and thinker whose work I have been following for several years, Bandra Bukowski:
I didn’t have to chew on it. I knew this was true. I knew that there was no doubt about it…anything I have ever done that was worth anything was something I poured my heart and soul into.
Was my eldest not pouring his heart and soul into his “movies?” He’s only six years old. Was I, by quietly complaining that these “movies” were soûlant, was I trying to stifle him, or get him to be “normal”?
Darn it. Here I am, saying I want to see extraordinary things happen in my life again, but I was stifling the unimaginable creativity that was brewing in my own home.
What a freaking hypocrite I am! These words, in white on black, written by some thinker who I admire on the other side of the planet, they held the same power as what I had heard that day: You need to serve your family with joy.
To serve with joy…
You may remember; but I was having trouble imagining what it would look like to live a life of daring deeds and amazing faith with two scalawags in tow.
Well, as it turns out…it looks a lot like taking a walk with a six year-old who spends two hours “pew!pew!pew!-ing” through the streets of Mulhouse, while he goes into deep, deep, detail about the rocket ships and firearms he invented for his movie…while he sets the stage with word pictures about the planets where Ayron, his hero (who is sometimes a good guy, sometimes a bad guy) lands to bring justice to the universe. While he sings himself hoarse with the John Williams/Michael Giacchino-esque music he has invented for every. Single. Scene.
Apparently, this is a season of my life in which “daring deeds” and “amazing faith” is going to be defined by not stifling the creativity of a budding six year-old filmmaker. By not trying to get my five year-old whirling dervish to stop dervishing, no matter how dizzy he makes me.
Joy, it seems, is both a byproduct of letting them discover and exploit all their creativity and seeing where it will go, and simultaneously, the necessary sealant for those trash cans where the rats of negativity and doubt and self-importance live.
Maybe the daring deeds that are in my future won’t be my daring deeds, but the world-creating, justice-bringing, dizziness-inducing acts of two little boys who I know for a fact have a phenomenal destiny, or else God wouldn’t have shaken up my pleasant little existence to give them to me to raise.
Yeah. All that. As it turns out, my ego and my comfort and my desires are rats that need to get sealed into the trash cans and taken to the dump, to make room for all the joy and all the miracles that are going to be filling our lives as my boys are given space to make magic with all their hearts and souls.