Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mountain Climbing

My husband called me from a business trip this morning to see how things were going. I told him it was all I could do not to drive straight to the airport and buy a one way ticket to Hawaii. There was a slight pause and he asked in a rather tentative voice, "Can I come?"

I told him that he was welcome, but that children with attitude could only come for short visits.

One of my children is struggling heavily with grief this week and it comes out as button-pushing anger. That would be his anger and my buttons.

I had a less than stellar parenting moment in the midst of the fracas and was sharing the situation with a friend. I marveled at how I could shrug the whole episode off with an, "Oh, well. It just wasn't a great day."

In years past, I would have bludgeoned myself with regret, guilt and shame. Feeling something like the slime left behind a slug. It would have eaten me up for days.

And it's not that my behavior would have been off-the-charts-bad, it's that I felt I had to be a perfect parent.

When I fell short of that perfection, I believed I was the root of all the fleshliness in their little lives. If only I had parented better they wouldn't lie (or fight or be sullen . . .). If only I had read to him more as a toddler, he'd be doing better in school. If only I had played with them instead of doing housework . . . and the guilt list went on ad nauseum.

Yesterday, as I thanked the Lord for this change—this freedom from guilt and shame, I saw a picture in my mind of a mountain. There were many people around this huge mountain. Some marching in endless circles around the base for the entirety of their lives.

Others struggling to climb up the mountain side. Toiling with great effort and a few bloody scrapes to reach a plateau. That plateau is the place in their lives where they emerge from a painful situation with new insight. A place where a piece of God's puzzle falls into place. Illumination comes.

Then a new situation arises that nudges them out of the comfort of that safe place. They start climbing again with great effort until they reach another plateau of understanding and peace. Maybe some healing of past hurts. Forgiveness for wrongs made. They rest in that place for a while.

But as we grow and climb, the plateaus come more easily. Insight more quickly and the vistas become more wide-sweeping.

Some remain on the same plateau all their lives, some just circle the mountain.

But I want to climb as close as I can to the summit before I hear those sweet words from the mouth of Jesus. "You have fought the good fight. You've won the race. You've kept the faith." Welcome home.