I am so pleased to introduce you to my friend, Rachel, today. She attends the moms’ group I’m a part of and we had the opportunity to get together for coffee awhile back. Her writing is simply lovely, and I think you will be abundantly blessed by her words today. She just had a book on parenting published last month. There is a link at the bottom. I’ve read Ordinary Miracles, and it is so encouraging…meeting you right where you are if you are a parent to littles.
I knew it would come at some point.
“Mom, I don’t want to take violin lessons anymore. It’s too hard.”
Coming from my slightly perfectionist five year old who is just learning to pluck the A & E string on his pint size violin, I understood his concern.
It was new.
He was two weeks in.
It was getting a bit more challenging.
He had the parts of the violin and rest position, nailed.
But now the unfamiliar fingering and frustration of not being able to pluck out the single tones felt like too much.
During his lament he points out the window and looks to the sky. He points up at the pale, almost translucent blue haze.
“Mom, look, the letter U! Now an I!”
As I looked out, I too, saw the Canadian geese pattern shift and change with the distinguishable honking following their flight pattern.
As we watched this flock soar overhead, I told Connor about why the geese honk so loudly.
Scientists have observed that the geese will honk to one another to encourage one another as they fly. To spur each other on when the flight gets long and they are tired.
Sort of like violin lessons. Some days it feels tough. And all you want to do is throw your hands up and quit.
I told him that I would be here to encourage him, to cheer him on through the struggle as he practiced.
Because it is in going through the struggle that you often learn the most.
But as I said these words, I realized that the greatest learning isn’t so much about the actual struggle and overcoming the obstacle, so much as it is about discovering who is honking you through it.
Let’s be real. Parenting is tough. It is gritty and raw and messy. It is also lovely and sweet and rewarding. But I don’t think we are honest enough with one another about the real struggles that raising wee ones hold. It is often easier to live in the land of Facebook half-truths, Pinterest neuroses, and well-manicured facades that our life is simply charmed. Of course we all love our kids to the moon and back, but parenting is not for the faint of heart. It is an all-encompassing, demanding journey full of sleep deprivation, blow-out diapers, and mud tracked through just-swept floors. Some days, some moments, I wonder what I got myself into. If I’m real honest, sometimes things can feel much too tough and all I want to do is run away or quit.
Much like violin lessons.
But it was always the community that brought me back. It was a friend that shared openly about her own struggles with parenting that normalized my own. It was a reassuring smile when my kids squawked in church and afterwards genuinely telling me how much they enjoyed hearing these small voices. It was a friend showing up on my doorstep asking to take my kids to the park for a bit so I could finish packing for a trip.
This is the community honking in big and small ways.
You can do it.
You are doing a good thing.
It is worth it.
We can do this together.
Like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24, even through their own doubts and despair, they chose not to walk alone. They journeyed together. And it was as they walked along that dusty road that Christ himself shows up.
That is the meaning of true community.
Christ shows up.
As we welcome one another, as we share our brokenness with each other and listen deeply to those we encounter, and as we extend care to one another, Emmanuel (meaning: God with us) is present. For at the intersection of living and loving, the Spirit of Christ is born.
And we find that what we were longing and searching for all along the way is right there with us.
We can take courage to keep moving ahead, embrace life and whatever it holds because we journey not alone. For we find our hands, though weathered and worn, are held tightly in the grasp of the One who has his own scars.
We are not alone.
Rachel S. Gerber, is a blogger at Everything Belongs (www.everything-belongs.com) and the author of Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting, a spiritual memoir of discovering the gifts and holy hidden in the events of harried family life. Overburdened parents will find reassurance in Rachel’s own story of how, in her darkest hour of disorientation, in the most mundane and ordinary days of motherhood, and in moments of exhilaration, joy, and beauty, God is present. You can order her book here.
Geese image from Stock Exchange.