Mom's School Week Six: Opening Your Heart + Cultivating Faith

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Dear Friends, 

Here we are at the final week of this Mom’s School. This summer I’ve been thinking about life lessons and ideas I want to share with my boys. Beyond the typical summer checklists of places to go and things to do, I felt inspired to talk with them about the topics I’ve written about these five weeks. Beyond all that, I wanted to commit to writing each week. So often an idea comes and I say to myself, “I’m too busy for that”. I let the idea go and it rarely comes back to me in the same way. So, if there is something tapping you on your shoulder, I hope you will answer the call.  

This week is for you. Though I’ve known it all along, doing this project has made it crystal clear to me that in order to give our kids these intangible insights, we need to spend time with them ourselves. We need to take the time to work and sort through what we think first. We must dive into our hearts and sit there for a bit. 

This idea of opening my heart and cultivating faith have been a winding roads for me. I believe it’s a space that each of us are invited to. It’s a place below the surface of life that gives foundation to all else. Allows for firm footing when life happens, as it always does. We tend to go through the motions, we think of God the way we were taught to, we pray the way we did as kids. We intuitively know and want our kids to have some spiritual life, so we pass along what we’ve known. Or conversely, we reject what we grew up with and steer our kids clear of the spiritual or religious experience that did us wrong. 

Instead of all that, what if you went back to the drawing board and chose to be open to hearing and cultivating that which calls to your heart? 

When tragedy strikes, I’ve seen people do all of the following, double down on a belief they’ve espoused without question, throw it all out because how in this world would a loving God allow this or that to happen, and take the opportunity to dig deeper, to reassess, to open up and ask, “what is this really all about anyway?” I have done all three at different times in my life. I’ve found the third to be most life giving, most growth filled, most freeing. 

So in this final week I want to tell you it’s a worthy, worthy exercise to find where your soul rests. I invite you to stop waging war or living in anger or blame. I want you to consider that you are fully loved, fully known, your life has purpose, you are worthy of love and you belong. 

I invite you to put down the list of grievances you have with all of it. 

With life. 

With God.

With what has happened to you. 

With what has not happened to you.

I’ve found it’s so much easier to throw the whole idea of faith out the door, than it is to claw, scrape and trudge through the pain and question to find an open space to listen. And to me that is what prayer is. It’s listening, it’s sitting in an open space filled with love. For me it’s encountering a God who whispers to me, “I see it all. Trust in the bigger dance, the bigger view that you cannot see”. 

God looks and feels different to all of us. That’s because it’s a personal experience. It’s not my place to tell you what he or she feels like to you, how you experience God or who or what you think God is. But I hope you will figure it out. I hope you will answer the call. I hope you will believe. I hope you will listen long enough and are open enough to experience a peace that passes understanding. 

Some days I’m still clawing and scraping. Like the last two weeks. Two people in my life have said goodbye for now to the most important people in their lives. One to her sister, one to her daughter. I have felt a fraction of their grief, but still heaviness is there. I ask why, I question, I don’t understand. 

Some days I sit in an open space, with grace for what comes. When people say, “how can you do all you do?” The only answer that comes is, “this is what I’m called to do.” I have the grace to do it. 

About four years after Ethan died and one year after Bodey’s diagnosis I went to a women’s conference at a local church. I felt called to go, though I’m not sure I had set foot in a church in a couple years. I was nervous, but I needed to answer the call to go. As I sat in the morning session, one of the presenters mentioned that God wanted to do great things with our lives. 

All I could think was, clearly this woman didn’t know about my life or the lives of many people I know. To me, her comments about great things were just a set up for big disappointment. 

I got in my car to go across the street to grab lunch. At this point in time, I’d become comfortable listening to thoughts that came to me at random times as more than just thoughts. I felt the nudge to look up “great” in the dictionary. This is what I found in Webster:

great | adjective: notably large in size, elaborate, ample, remarkable in magnitude, degree or effectiveness, distinguished, remarkably skilled, long, continued. 

There was nothing about exciting or happy. This word didn’t mean great like a party. This word was more about magnitude, reach, and effectiveness. That was something I could live with. I got out my notebook and wrote down the definition. At that moment, I said to God, “use me to do great things, not easy things, but effective things, use me to make a difference to a magnitude beyond what I can imagine”. After that weekend, I felt my heart had been softened, and that I desired a cultivated faith more than I had in the years since Ethan died.  

I don’t have a magic formula for you, but what I hope is that you will take time to cultivate your own heart, that you will soften it and allow God to creep into the deepest, most cynical parts. I hope you will be open to big, wide, elaborate, continuous, “great” things that God created you to do in your time on this earth. 

Thank you, my friend, for reading along these six weeks. 

Much love to each of you.

PS. Are there topics you'd like to hear more about? I have some ideas for other series I'd like to feature on my blog. I'd love to hear from you!

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