Friday, January 29, 2010

Authentic, Available and Affirming?

In a recent youth ministry class, we were reminded that the key to developing all relationships was to be authentic (like don't try to be who you're not), available (like not just show up..but show up ready to play/listen) and affirming(like sincerely..back to the authentic part). At the time I was thinking "well duh". But upon further reflection, I realized just how far I had removed myself from these basics with my own children in my own home.

As I have de-cluttered (still throwing out 26 things a day!)..I stumbled upon a bunch of old pictures. It is very bitter-sweet. Looking at these pictures. The boys are growing up so fast..and I am proud of each and every one of them. But I also found myself thinking when did we stop doing this..when did we fill our days with busyness? We still love each other..we still care for each other..but we have really drifted apart. All of us. Yes..the kids are off doing there own thing..but more than that..we are unavailable for each other.

(Cody showing Austen how to play a chord and Austen, Cody and Devin dyeing cascarones 3 years ago)

This all came at the same time that I had a real wake-up call with one of the boys here at home. This child of mine showed my just how unavailable I have become over the past few years.

It all happened innocently enough. I took a part-time job. We talked about it as a family..and we did this together. Part-time turned to full-time. Full-time turned back to part-time..but then I quickly filled that time with school, ministry, volunteerism. As things became crazier and crazier, I became less and less available. I forgot to be even remotely affirming.I piled on the responsibilities..and forgot to say thank you.

I quit saying.."I like the way you made the lasagna. What did you add?" And began saying."Oh..and don't forget we have 6 extras tonight..and why didn't you make bread to go with it?" I did manage to stay authentic! I made my statement loud and clear. I am too busy and why can't you do more to help. (ouch)

I keep adding on the kids responsibilities at home, so I can help others outside our home. I know we have established a strong relationships..a strong team identity. But I forget to keep the communication open on the home-front. 3 years later, I am shocked at how far I have drifted.

As I am reflecting on all of this, I stumble across a small statement in a Mothering magazine at my friend Carol's (Sardine Mama) house:

There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don't expect you to change the world, I do think it's not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove those from your life who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.
(poet Nikki Giovanni) is official. I resign from the Boys and Girls Club this May. I need to tie-up some loose ends. I will enjoy this time at the well as this time with Kairos. Then no more weekend ministries, no more work. I am, however, continuing with the pastoral ministry training program. But keeping it on the academic level at this time.

Right now I want to be with my family in a true spirit of affirmation, availability and authenticity.


Sardine Mama said...

Authentic, Available, and Affirming...this post was not the exciting personals ad I thought it would be :). LOVE YOU!!

michi herself said...

I can relate to so much of what you have written. This lesson came earlier for us - when the girls were much younger. But a tough lesson none-the-less. I respect you highly for choosing family over saving the world.

We need to get together!!!

Anonymous said...

wow! Thanks for your openness about this. And for affirming what I try to accomplish for my family.

Why throwing out 26 things a day?

I once read about a couple that committed to throwing out/donating 2 items for every new item they brought into their home. There is a limit to this, right? lol