I’m going to start this out with being honest. I haven’t read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. To be even more honest, I’m scared to read it. Although I would guess that purging a house for a move would be as good a time as any to read it. I had also only read a handful of Jen’s blog posts ever before. So I had no idea what I was getting into when I saw that Jen Hatmaker was going to be speaking for the first session on Friday at dotMom. NO IDEA. But I’m so glad that I got to hear her speak.
Jen taught me a lot in the 30-45 minutes that she spoke. It was like God gave her the message just for me. And from reading what others wrote about her talk it’s obvious that I’m not the only Momma dealing with fear and control issues in regards to my kids which is such a relief. So often it seems like everyone but me has it all together and that might be what I love the most about blogs. That you get to share your experiences and read about others’ and say, “I’m not the only one. This must be normal. At least someone else out there is dealing with this same thing. Let me see how she’s handling it and maybe I can figure something out for me.”
I’m going to try and paraphrase and also direct quote some of the things that she said. But, I’ll be honest, sometimes I was so caught up in listening that my notes don’t always flow cohesively. And if you’re looking for a non-wordy summary of her talk this is not going to be the place to get it. 🙂
Jen started out making us laugh out loud with her stories about her family. She told us that one of the things that she asks her kids when they say something they shouldn’t is, “Was it necessary? Was it kind? Was it true?” She told us about one of her daughters who called her son an ugly name and answered no to the first two questions but vehemently agreed that the third was a yes! I can see that happening in my house but I’m planning on implementing these three questions immediately!
She then started speaking about relaxing. About parenting the way prior generations parented and not entertaining our children. She talked about not taking chances with their safety (there will be no running down the freeway) but realizing that God is in control and I AM NOT so I need to stop agonizing over every little decision that I make because one wrong choice IS NOT GOING TO WRECK THEIR LIFE!
I loved her quote that “Fear makes an already hard job, motherhood, even harder.” I’m not really sure what it is to mother without fear lingering in the back of my mind but I want to try it. I’m guessing that it’s freeing and allows you to enjoy the short time that you have with your kids even more. That it allows you to be spontaneous and chalk mistakes up for what they are, mistakes, without dwelling on all the possible –very unlikely– repercussions down the line.
Jen talked about that we’re trying to give our kids a “safe life” by removing all risk and pain and possible hurt from their life. We don’t want them to be excluded on the playground. Or make a bad grade. Or get cut from the team. We want their life to be perfect with none of the hardship, rejection, and negative emotions that we experienced. But “a safe life has never been the mark of a true disciple. Conforming to the image of Christ, like Romans 8:29 tells us, is messy and hard and involves loss and struggle and failure.” Jen said that “our job isn’t to shield them [from hardship] but to parent them through it.” And I think at that point every Mom in the room started saying “Amen!”
She brought out a point that I’ve been struggling with recently and that is that our kids are smarter than we think and see more than we think. I can say all that I want that I don’t want Charlotte to be like me in my fear or anxiety or anything else, but unless I’m not showing her those things, she’s going to see them and, to some degree, emulate them. And just like Jen said, I don’t want to be the reason that my kids choose safety over courage. She asked us to parent with diligence but to parent without fear.
That’s a hard task to aspire to but I think, with God’s help, we can get closer than we ever have before. I might need to make a sign that says the following and put it on my mirror so that I can remember this every day, but this that Jen said was RIGHT ON.
“Scared Mom’s raise scared kids. Brave Mom’s raise brave kids. True disciples raise true disciples.”
Jen encouraged us to rest in God’s goodness in order to allow us to parent without fear. She mentioned that the first day that was blessed in the history of time was the Sabbath, the day of rest. God spent six days creating the world and then, He rested. I’m pretty sure that if God rests then I need to rest also!
Jen used the story in Exodus 16 of the manna and the quail to remind us that God provides all that we need. He provides just enough and that what he provides is only good for one day. She reminded us that spiritual food is perishable just like physical food and that God will provide us just enough but it is only good for one day. We must replenish our spiritual needs and our motherhood needs in advance or it won’t be good when we need it.
Jen told us about their family and their commitment to keep the Sabbath and make it Holy. After worshipping with their church body (they have a church in Texas), they choose an activity that they can do as a family and spend that time using God’s gift of the Sabbath, that he has commanded us to take, as a sacred day. She reminded us that our work (laundry, dishes, etc) will never be done but that we need to plan for a day of rest. That taking a day to recharge and honor God is NOT being lazy and that those chores that we have will still be there the next day.
I left Jen’s message with a peace in my soul that I am enough for my kids and that God is enough for me. I pray that I can hold on to that peace over the next days, and weeks, and months, and years and remember to relax and parent true disciples.