I’m one of those moms who wants to love summer with with every cell of my being. My favorite little people are home and I just want to soak up the sunny splashy mornings and the long slow afternoons and the “just because” snuggles. My husband and I are those parents who deeply desire to relish in home, who crave for home to be the safest place for our people, who long for it to be a place of peace and breathing deep and opening wide and having all the beautiful identity and destiny and belonging poured right in.
We’re a family who lives for kitchen dance parties and who searched for the largest bean bag we could find just so all seven of us could snuggle up for books at night. We believe that family is powerful, and we teach our kids that we’re stronger together. We aim to never let the sun go down on our anger, and we fight for our relationships with each other. We talk about building up and not tearing down, and serving each other in love.
That’s the heavenly home that lives in our hearts and prayers, and the heavenly home that our straggled, weary, moments are fighting for.
But the reality of our home is a bit more complicated and sometimes leaves me feeling like I live in a war zone. I have strong and spirited children who only follow rules they believe in, who fight for justice and fairness, and don’t have much trouble voicing their opinions and concerns…from the rooftops.
The reality of our home is that it’s loud.
The reality of our home is that there is usually someone fighting, someone in timeout, someone crying, someone who needs help, someone yelling, and someone who needs a Band-aid. Yes, at the same time.
The reality is that the pace is grueling, the demands are endless and space for teaching and shepherding moments free from a howling storm of noise are scarce at best.
I used to wait for the moments that looked, sounded, and felt peaceful to try to get my peace back, and help my children find theirs. I’m realizing that if you live in a war zone, you have to find a way to find your peace while the war is still raging. Like Peter locking eyes walking on water to Jesus, with the waves still crashing around him, there is peace to be found while the storms of our homes rage on (Matthew 14:28-33).
Peace is not a set of conditions but a presence of the God who is bigger than them all.
The peace of our homes does not depend on maintaining a steady state of quiet and freedom from conflict. The peace of our homes does not wait for our children to figure life out and obey. The peace of our homes does not rely on the promise that there will be no suffering. The peace of our homes does not depend on our five physical senses, but on the abiding of our spirit.
When everything around us feels peaceful, we might convince ourselves that we’re the heroes. When life feels like a bit of a mess, we have a chance to let Jesus be the hero.
If you live in over your head, like me, it’s a great place to practice living by faith. More and more, I’m convinced that abiding peace starts with weakness. Real life happens in the untidy places. Real faith happens when we are at the end of ourselves. Real abiding happens when we know our need for Christ.
When I stop trying to tidy things up and I look for God in the middle of the storm, I find peace that passes understanding. When I stop trying to be the hero and I’m less surprised by my C minus parenting moments, I’m quick to apologize and my family gets to encounter the grace of God, afresh.
I’m convinced that the greatest strength of our home is that we clean-up well. I don’t mean the Legos…they are still all over the floor. I mean the relational messes we make every day.
“It’s not what you do that matters most. It’s what you do AFTER what you do.” —Dr. Garry Landreth, Founder of the Center for Play Therapy
Being quick to admit our mistakes teaches our kids it’s ok to make them. Mama, you’re lovable while you’re still on the journey of growth. And our children are, too. My children know that I’m still in the process of becoming the mom I want to be. And I’d like to think it’s giving them freedom and peace in their own journeys of becoming.
I think this is what it means to have a home of peace. Letting the peace of Christ (because He’s the hero!) be on the throne of our hearts (Col 3:15).
When we stop worshipping quiet and easy and we start worshipping Christ, we don’t have to be afraid of things getting a little stormy. When we stop worshipping our own perfection, we get to find the peace of being covered by Christ’s perfection.
Years ago, my habit was to only meet with God when I felt stable and strong. But it’s honestly pretty hard to find Him there. We get in our own way.
When we come before God with nothing except our need for His touch, we become magnetic for His presence.
I’m practicing crying out for God to speak and move in the middle of the craziest, loudest, ugliest moments of parenting. Peace for me looks like knowing that God speaks the language of my children’s hearts when I have no idea how to get through to them. When I quiet my heart and ask for help, God is eager to give me wisdom in words or wisdom in silence. He’s eager to quiet the frazzled nerves of my body and to hold my heart in His love. Peace looks like knowing that God has an identity and a destiny for each of my children (and for me and my husband as well), and the mess of our paths has very little to do with it. God can weave a beautiful tapestry with our broken and tattered threads.
Peace looks like welcoming God’s love to cover our profusion of brokenness.
If you find yourself envying the homes that look more put together, the ones where the kids are compliant and the siblings don’t fight and nobody yells…I encourage you to set your sights on a another goal. Instead of exhausting yourself for a peace that comes from quiet in your ears, become recklessly committed to pursuing the peace that comes from a heart quieted by the presence of God, no matter what kind of storm is raging.