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This Christian’s response to Halloween

It’s the 31st of October, and I’ve got something big on my mind – the final settlement of my birth home in Singapore, the flat my mother and aunt grew up in. But to the rest of the western world, it’s about something far more entertaining – Halloween.

Australia isn’t real big on the Halloween shindig. Part of it is due to the Aussie aversion to anything they perceive as overtly American, and part of it just got left out of its immigrant DNA way back when British settlers arrived, all newly buttoned up and Victorianised. As to its origins, there is a little argy-bargy there too. Some say it was a pagan festival made Christian (like Christmas and Easter – which also have debatable origins, by the way). Others say both early Christian and pagan festivals co-existed before they got merged when Christianity moved through Europe. Mostly out of expediency, because both festival dates were so close.

The name “Halloween” comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” was eventually contracted to “Hallow-e’en,” which became “Halloween.”

As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in “Christianizing” a pagan ritual—the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That’s what happened to All Saints Eve—it was the original Halloween alternative!

Why am I telling you all this? Because this morning, Arddun finally got to wear her Spider Witch costume – the one with the pointy hat. It’s Halloween dress-up at school today, not that Arddun would have understood its debated Christo-Pagan origins, nor cared. If Spider Pig

  • was a costume that sold in Big W for $12, and
  • included a pointy hat

Arddun would have gone to school as Spider Pig. Because that would have been funnier. And I like funny.

But today, she went to school as a pink spider witch.

Arddun dressed as Spider Witch

On Facebook today, I’m getting a weird mix of Halloween costume selfies and groupies, and a couple of rather upset feeds decrying this pagan festival and its growing encroachment into Australian culture. And while the former is largely to be expected and can be quite entertaining, it’s the latter types that are perplexing me.

Because they seem to be saying – repeatedly – that as a Christian mother, I’m being spiritually remiss in allowing my daughter to participate in these festivities.

I’ve thought about Halloween in passing through my Christian walk, and I’ve had at least three years to think about my convictions on the subject in earnest since I became a mother. So yes, the decision to get Arddun a Halloween costume was hardly a flippant one.

Of course, there are a few elements to Halloween (as it tends to be celebrated) that I take issue with. The sexualising of costumes as children get older, for instance. The fact that Halloween adult parties can rapidly descend to drunken debauchery in certain circles. The greed and sense of entitlement that can come about. (Had quite a few kids expect candies from our house, but didn’t think to prepare a trick when we didn’t have any. They just wanted the lollies and were miffed we were such killjoys. Actually, we forgot.)

The thing is, all of these are within the parents’ control – certainly in the very early years. As with anything, moderation and consistent teaching are required. Manners when approaching someone’s home. Stranger danger and safety. Values surrounding modesty while still maintaining fun. Arddun is not going trick-or-treating this year because I think she’s still too young to be exposed to that many lollies. But that’s a personal judgement call. I think it’s actually a wonderful way to foster neighbourliness, and she’d love it. And maybe we’ll do it next year.

The verses that many Christians often quote to underline the evils of Halloween are as follows:

There shall not be found among you anyone…who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18: 10-13)

Except why limit that to just Halloween? Don’t we need to be vigilant at ALL times? In such an overwhelmingly secular society as Australia, the religious/pagan element of Halloween has been neutered by supermarket commercialism. And yet, think of other forms of literature we’ve exposed our children to.

  • Harry Potter (witches and wizards, spells, Dark Lord with No Nose)
  • Sleeping Beauty (one really ticked off sorceress or fairy)
  • Snow White (witch/sorceress)
  • Hansel and Gretel (witch)
  • Cinderella (fairy godmother with fashion spells and lousy curfew)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (vampires, ghouls, monsters, werewolves, you-name-it-they’ve-covered-it including bringing Buffy back from Heaven)
  • Frozen (Elsa’s floaty arms are pretty spell-binding.)
  • Lord of the Rings (Sauron, wizards, elves)
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Christian allegory with… a white witch)
  • Enid Blyton (witches, wizards)

Ironically, the only times I’d encountered anything remotely resembling Deuteronomy 18 was when I did door-to-door evangelism in Singapore, and knocked on the doors of a few bomohs and Chinese mediums. Believe me folks, it wasn’t Halloween – it was broad daylight – and there were no scary costumes or candy. But my skin prickled and my hairs stood on end in a way I’d never experienced before. Nor ever want to again.

My faith in Christ is my victory. In Him, there is no darkness and I am under His protection. If I honestly believe that – and I do – then I believe that I can cautiously and intelligently allow my daughter to enjoy this day of dress-up, just as I’ve allowed her to read about Hansel and Gretel, and pretend to be Elsa making a magic living snowman. All while still teaching her who God is.

Also, here’s a really sensible take on Christian responsibility during Halloween.

Flawed Mommy Love

The past month has been a jumble of fragmented thoughts and intentions, made all the more woolly by chronically interrupted sleep. I try not to squint at people when they tell me – hohoho – to enjoy all the sleep I can now – hahaha – because I will be getting none of that when the baby arrives – heeheehee.

Bullcrap. I’m already sleep-deprived. I haven’t slept deeply before 4.00am in a month. Every night, I fall into this weird shallow sleep punctuated by bouts of punchbag-in-reverse from Boy Blob, and the constant niggling sensation that my bladder is crying for help. When I finally do rouse myself at some unearthly hour and zombie-amble over to powder my nose, I tumble into bed straight after for some serious zzz, only to be awakened by a cheerful toddler re-enacting the wake-up scene from Frozen not 3 hours later. Verbatim.

Yet the skittles of thoughts I’ve been meaning to string together in the one post – or several – remain. I am convinced there is a common thread, although I haven’t found the time to sew.

There’s the skittle about these two women I’ve met – one with seven children, and one with six. I know not where their strength comes from, if not from God. The former homeschools all of them, as her husband is with the ADF and they move every so often. He had been posted overseas recently for months at a stretch, so she held the fort solo. SOLO. Now they’re moving yet again, and are planning a house build at their new destination. The one with six children still manages to find time for the gym. And has her children in bed by 6pm every night (although the older ones get to go to bed by 7pm). Both of them have five boys.

And it’s hard not to look at these surprisingly sane, grounded women and not marvel at their competence. It’s hard not to think about them and find yourself conflicted in your deep admiration for their ways, while simultaneously bashing yourself over your own underwhelming energy levels. I know they do it because they first want to, and then because they have to. When you are a conscientious mother, you find the strength and the will to carry on.

And then there’s the other skittle about these other two women whom I’ve never met, but whose lives touch people close to me. And these two women have many children. And they are struggling. Mental illness can be so, so debilitating. It can snuff out maternal instinct in its black hollowness. So all-consuming a vacuum that there is little oxygen left for love of themselves, much less the children who suffer in their wake. Made all the worse by a crumbling married life, an obtuse community, and just plain lousy choices and willpower. They love their children still, but it ain’t healthy no more.

There’s the skittle about crunchy and silky parenting, and how everyone in parenting land can be prone to getting a leetle beet crazee when it comes to defending their art and science of Bringing Up Junior. And really, most of us are just trying to do the best parenting we can in the best way we know how. Even if we sometimes want to crash tackle someone else’s methods to prove it. Until I became a parent, I had no idea how easy it is to irrationally process every (perceived) criticism of my parenting method as a direct measure of my love for Arddun. I also think that’s why Mommy online forums can be such toxic places, and why I’m mostly leery of them.

(As it turns out, I’m also 80% Silky, with a sprinkling of granola. I think my stout stance on vaccination irrevocably left me out of the Crunchy loop. Oh well.)

And finally, there’s that skittle about Boy Blob and my Arddun, and how I cannot fathom how my life will change. I love Arddun truly, madly, deeply – which is why my heart squeezes at the knowledge that I will be breaking this all-consuming only-child bond in order to make a new one. I have only been an only-child. As such, I have only known the love of a mother of an only-child. Sure, I’ve observed other family units with multiple children and am convinced they love their children deeply. But I’ve only known the love of a mother of an only-child. And with Arddun, I love her as my one and only.

There is a guilt that threatens to eat away at me with every fleeting week that passes us by. Let’s make the most of our precious time together, just you and I, I try to tell myself – except my body is now cumbersome and I cannot walk too far. I shouldn’t behave like this is the end of something good, except it is. I have loved growing up with Arddun these 3 years and counting. I should behave more like this is the beginning of something better and richer, because it is. Except I don’t know how.

And yet I am convinced that my heart will expand twice as big to love twice as large and twice as deep and twice as hard. It is the only explanation that will comfort me, as much as it confounds me. The heart cannot be thought of as a fixed-sized receptacle or a finite bankroll of warm-fuzzies. Rather, I like to think it expands with the using. It gets bigger, the further you venture in. Kinda like a TARDIS.

Oh, the imperfect love of a relatively new mother. Still brimming with hope and doubt and everything else in between.

P is for Princess (of Power)

I’ve written before about how I’ve been making a concerted effort not to pink up Arddun – or at least to teach her that ALL colours are gorgeous, and that just because she’s a girl, she’s not expected to default to Pink, Purple or Sparkle.

Lately, my Facebook feeds have thrown up lots of mini debates about gender equality, nurture vs nature, and if or when a child should decide if they are a boy or girl regardless of the genitalia they were born with. Until Arddun, I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to mull over such topics in great detail, having never questioned my sex. But as a parent, these have become Hard Questions because they hit the heart, the head, and the faith.

In anything – whether we decide that we want our babies to play with “unisex” toys and wear “gender neutral” colours. Whether we allow them to choose the design of their next birthday cake, or decide what party theme they are going to have to live with.

Whether we decide if they go to a private Christian school or a public secular one. Whether we bring in God and theology from the start. Whether we let our child play with the rough kid next door, whether we teach them to push back or retreat. … we shape these individuals. We mold their world. We craft their mindsets. At least for a little while.

The difficulty is understanding where that fine line sits. Therein lies all the difference between a hug and a smother. When does setting boundaries start to snuff out freewill? When does instruction become indoctrination?

I don’t know. But in thinking about colours and my aversion to overtly Princessy things, I’ve lately wondered about the bias I was bringing to the table. And perhaps I’ve been looking at it all wrong because I’ve assumed Pink, Purple and Sparkle are way too girly girl girl. As if being a girl’s girl were a bad thing, ala this fabulous ad campaign:

 

Other things I’ve noticed – Lego. The tiny ones for older hands? They are now either in dark boy boxes or pink-purple girl ones. The ones I grew up with – the ones where the bricks are in primary colours and you can build anything that springs up in your fertile kiddy imagination, all that’s gone.

It frankly appalls me that they only put Male and Female Lego figurines in those dark and pinky boxes respectively. And truth be told, Arddun adores diggers, trains, and trucks, along with playing Masterchef (she made noodles this week) and offering hair styling services. But because I want Arddun to have heroines to fly those Lego planes and haul dirt in Lego diggers, I went and got a bunch of pink Lego boxes for her.

So now she has Mimi (the brunette) and Mary (the blonde with the lamb).

Lego-princesses
Hair slightly askew with oversized bows, but still good.

Anyhoo – sorry this got all dark and twisty. I actually started out this post just wanting to put up Arddun piccies. Like this one:

Arddun reading to herself in her bedroom while dressed as a princess
Princesses are brainy people. Lots to keep up with when running a kingdom.

Arddun has no difficulty saying the word “Princess”. This we’ve known for at least a year, because we have a CD of Australian Christian songs for young children, and Arddun calls it the Princess CD because it has a picture of Christ’s crown on it. She can also say “Promise” and “Umbrella”. So we don’t understand why she can’t say the word “Properly”… you know… properly.

Me: (While getting Arddun into her car seat) Are you sitting properly?

Arddun: I’m sitting plopply.

Me: Are you sure you’re sitting properly?

Arddun: (A little indignant) I am sitting plopply!

Me: Not plopply, Arddun. Prrr…. prrrrrroperly.

Arddun: Pppppppp… plopply.

Me: PRRRRRRR… Properly!

Arddun: PPPPPBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTTTT… plopply.

Cracks both of us up all the time.

We also made a fairy castle today.

Cupcake stand unassembled and in packet
Okay, so it didn’t come from the toy section. Which is why it only cost me $10.
Arddun stringing bunting together
‘Scuse the hair: Deep in concentration, as Arddun strings the bunting together.
Close up of bunting
Tiny industrious hands
Arddun pushing hair aside
“Phew! Finally done!”
Arddun sitting beside finished Cupcake Castle
The finished product
Arddun playing with paper fairy in castle
Castle in action

Staring intently at the fairy

Still Relevant memos to self

While going through my computer folders, I found my notes from when I gave a short devotion at a mother’s group meeting at Audrey’s home in Singapore. Had a flick-through and true enough, all of what I had pondered over then is still relevant today.

1. Growing Dependent Kids

I had mentioned before how Tony and I are big on Arddun gaining independence early. It’s in the small things, like minimising the spoon-feeding, getting her to self-settle instead of rocking her to sleep, teaching her to put away her toys and to clean up her messes, instilling in her the focus and contentment required to play independently… The only thing we haven’t been as successful in the Get Independent Quick parenting scheme  is potty training. But still, there is that inner dialogue hurrying me along, ever conscious not to molly-coddle, not to breed bad habits…

Except I think I might have lost sight of the ultimate goal. Because the ultimate goal isn’t about giving a child life competencies and a sense of her place and role in her environment, although those are great things to strive for. The ultimate goal isn’t about enabling my child to stand on her two feet and know her own mind.

The ultimate goal is to move my child from dependence on mummy and daddy to dependence on God.

I didn’t get to say this at the actual sharing because there were eleventeen babies making friends with one another at the time (and eleventeen equally loving mothers trying to keep them out of trouble), but I had read a blog post that week written by a mother who wanted her newly school-attending daughter to gain more confidence by remembering that God was there with her at school. And that just shifted the paradigm for me. I will not always be there for Arddun. As she gets older, there are going to be play dates, and classes (we think dance classes at the rate she’s going), and school, and sports, and a whole other world that is going to be mostly hers. I will always be there for her emotionally and the rest of it, of course. But I won’t be by her desk at school when the soi disant school queen bee comes around, or leaning against the bleachers when she is tempted to cheat at softball. (Because of course, we’re hoping she’s going to do softball. And when I say we, I mean Tony.)

In all those cases, her best bet is a keen sense of right and wrong that comes from understanding who God is and why He loves her.

REALLY helps if she learns all that through example, of course. So I’d best buck up.

2. Be present

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

Be ever hearing, but never understanding. Be ever seeing, but never perceiving. (Isaiah 6:10 Hebrew; Septuagint ‘You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; / you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ / This people’s heart has become calloused; / they hardly hear with their ears, / and they have closed their eyes)

Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there. ― Willie Nelson

How many of these scenarios are familiar to you?

iPads or iPhones at the dinner table.

A young man sitting in the reserved seat on the MRT, engrossed in his Candy Crush while a mother with a young child stands beside him.

A mother on the phone with the Australian Customs Department worrying about boxes, while her child waits to cuddle her and wave good-bye. (That was me, the day before I shared that devotion.)

It is so easy to get busy over the details. To multi-task. To jam as many things in the day as humanly possible. Sometimes it’s because we have to. But many times, it’s because we want to. We want to please God, we want to help His people. We want to fulfil our potential, and we want to maximise the talents God has given us.

But sometimes, in the doing, we sacrifice the best version of ourselves. Quantity is very often NOT the substitute for quality. I get very exasperated when I see how many small things I can accomplish at one go, while my husband seems only capable of doing one thing at a time. But if I were to analyse the attention span I’ve paid each task, I realise that it is often divided, and can be at the expense of someone else. Usually, Arddun and Tony.

The art of being present is the art of shutting out distractions, and having the discipline not to let anything else enter in. The art of being present is in the decision that THIS is what is MOST important to the moment. Encouraging my child as she shows me how well she sorts shapes. Listening – REALLY listening – to my husband when he tells me about his day. Talking to Arddun about disappointing behaviour. Rehearsing how to behave when she opens birthday gifts at her party. Undivided attention shows my daughter — and my husband —more love and gives them more satisfaction than any toy or present I could possibly give them. And yet it is hard not to jump up and answer a message when it beeps, or run off and put a load of washing on before I forget.

But it is crucial. And it is respectful of others.

I am still learning, so please pray for me.

3. Love covers over a multitude of sins

Keep your love for one another at full strength, because love covers a multitude of sins. ~I Peter 4:8

I find it so easy to forgive Arddun and yet so difficult at times to do the same for Tony. And I can sometimes feel myself spiralling downward into a very corrosive blame game that makes me out to be this huge martyr and my husband, a rather obtuse and unthinking duh-duh. Which is complete nonsense, because he’s one of the most switched-on people I know.

But yes. Sometimes, as fathers and husbands, they drive us mad. Things that come so naturally to us – like figuring out how to stack the Tupperware in your cupboard logically or opening a fancy packet of tissues using the perforation marks and not brute force – seem to completely thwart our husbands. Many times, it seems they do it because they don’t respect us enough or care to understand.

And maybe some of our assumptions are spot on. And some of it comes from sleep deprivation and being TOO fussy and particular. Sometimes, the battles we pick don’t need to be battles, but we choose to pick them because they’re more tangible than the other worries and concerns we have with our spouses.

Yet the verse is pretty clear about the effort required on our parts. Keep your love for one another at full strength. If it’s depleted, fill it up. If I’m running on empty, if I’m doing my mothering and wife-ing out of resentment, I’ve personally been remiss. If I am unable to forgive and forget – yes, FORGET – then I am unable to let the “multitude of sins” go because I have not loved perfectly. I have not agape-d my husband.

Like I said, I have yet to fully understand this and see it live in my life. But I can only work towards the prize.

Sharing a short devo at Audrey's house

Grief does not change you. It reveals you.

So far, 2013 kinda blows.

We’ve pranged our new car twice… okay, I pranged our new car twice… got handed a very rude quote for some dental work that needs to be done, and have been patiently waiting for my employment situation to unfold.

But that’s just money and inconvenience.

For most of you who know me and some of you who have been following my blog, you’ve been made aware of my mother’s cancer. She had a lot of chemo last year, and that finished up in October.

In the first week of January, my mother had her routine check up with her surgeon and oncologist, and we found out that the cancer’s metastasized to her sternum and it’s inoperable. And so it’s more tests, and more treatment, and more fear and trembling. A quick scheduled reunion got cancelled because of other unforeseen health issues that popped up, and so now we wait and worry.

And then friends suffer sudden and devastating loss at the turn of the month. The kind that makes you cry until you’re soundless, and your chest hurts like the dickens.

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I walked into a bookshop today looking to find words to comfort others, because I lack. And after explaining to the store manager what I was trying to achieve, he handed me a small stack of books and I started tasting the wares to see if they were appropriate enough to pass on.

I ended up getting quite attached to one of the books. It wasn’t a preachy one expounding how to overcome grief, or what the stages are. Just simple verses, reflections and prayer that might articulate grief in its variety and complexity. But until I read that book, I had forgotten that grief visits us even when there isn’t a body count and a coffin. Grief is ultimately about loss, and it comes when trust is broken, when health is irrecoverable, when “big sin” separates us from God and we feel like we can no longer have His fellowship.

I had intended the book to be a balm for others but in reading it, I learnt that I’ve been grieving for a while.

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I wish I can tell you that I’m good with grief, but I’m not. Someone at my writing group on Saturday talked about Fight or Flight – and my immediate reaction to tremendous loss has never been flight to the safety of God’s arms, but the overpowering desire to put on armour and go into battle. Greatest defence is offence, they say. However, my version of “coping”  usually involves standing alone and yelling at something, or hitting out till someone else hurts just as much as I do. It isn’t healthy. I wish my instinct is to run to God first, and maybe one day – when I finally grow up enough to have a child-like faith – all I’ll want to do is run into the arms of the Saviour. Besides, running to God is, by far, the more intelligent and sensible thing to do than standing there, defenceless but seething like a mad woman.

My friends have just lost their children. I cannot imagine losing my child, much less two of them at one go. And yet I am deeply edified by them and their unwavering faith. I have always had the sense that their relationship with Jesus is one that is far more intimate than mine has ever been. They are His kin, whereas I feel sometimes I’m like His distant cousin twice removed – the one you might meet during Christmas, Chinese New Year, weddings and funerals. And again, I ache with them but I marvel even more at how they lean on Christ because He’s really family.

I found a post I had written last year, when we first found out that my mother has cancer. I didn’t publish it, because it was very raw and because I didn’t want to distract from the true sufferer and victim – my mother. I’ve always found my own grief a bit of a time-suck, the idea of wallowing just self-absorbed and futile. It irritates me. Crying has always irritated me, even though I can do it well and do it often.

But after reading that book today, and then finding this old post, I realise that some of the emotions are still there because they have not been dealt with, but swept aside repeatedly. And even though I’m not angry anymore, I am still mixed up. Because the fear is still there, along with the longing, and the fight not to despair. It’s still relevant, and the scab’s raw and bleeding again.

So here’s what I wrote. And be warned – it’s not pretty. But I thought I’d put it out there because if you happen to be like me in the anger department, I hope this gives you an outlet and a prayer… and evidence that comfort can come – even when you’re standing there alone and screaming.

By now, you might have heard. Both churches on each of our continents have been told. This morning, I wrote an email and this afternoon, the elders at PP will be praying over my mother. I’ve embargoed this post, and I’ve written so many private posts both in this blog and on my heart.

Because it’s official. Two and a half days ago, my family found out that my mother has The Big C. And not the good kind, if there ever is such a thing. And our world fell apart. Walls of hope shattered like thin, brittle glass and you cannot see anything clearly – most of all the way forward. And my reaction was shock and horror… and unimaginable anger. I was so angry, it was unholy.

I spent the next ensuing hours alternately blaspheming and begging in my heart. I couldn’t pray, couldn’t look at the bible, and threw the “I love Jesus” hand towel in the wash although a part of me wanted to burn it like an effigy. I was so mad. Pain and suffering inflicted on me is one thing. But to torture my mother who has loved and served passionately, touched so many lives and still carries with her the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Who didn’t ever have it easy. Couldn’t He cut her some slack? Couldn’t she catch a break?

Lots of verses flew through the mind, like the futility of building barns for tomorrow, and the whole damn book of Job. When God allows suffering, when you know on the one hand that He allows it because He is GOD and He has the big picture… such knowledge can be both a sweet comfort and a mockery of the pain you currently feel. And for the first six hours anyway, understandably or wrongly, I was really, really mad with my Maker.

And the other head voices chime in. You know this isn’t about you, but you wonder anyway if this is a sick chess game between God and the Devil to test your faith or punish you for all your sins. Your heated words, your stupid, thoughtless actions. You wonder, wildly, if you had brought this down on your mother. Only because it strikes so close and if she didn’t deserve it, maybe she was collateral damage because of you.

It’s crazy talk, but that’s what grief brings. Your head knows better that God is compassion and love, long suffering and infinitely patient, far from vindictive. But the heart is wild, angry, hurt, irrational.

And yet today is Sunday. A day, like any other day, that the Lord has made. And knowing that flawed and loving people are bear-hugging my mother with words and prayer and deeds is comfort immeasurable. Channeling God always brings beautiful, brutiful stuff. And from the bottom of my heart, I ask for forgiveness and again entreat Him for all my heart’s desire.

My mother – ever brave, ever strong, ever faithful – is also human and scared silly. Her fear isn’t unbelief – it’s understanding. There’s something about sickness that silences the masses. It’s not like death, which brings out grief that’s hot, searing, immediate, total. Tangible. Sickness becomes the white elephant in the room, and everyday life feels clumsy, false and suspended. And my mother, she’s practical and smart and incredibly brave. She has chosen not to hide her illness from those who care enough to ask. So please honour her bravery and don’t act all stiff and funny around her. Just hold her and laugh with her and scream with her and cry with her, will you?

For her. For me.

Honest to Blog

This morning, I woke up with a complex.

Usually, I wake up because Arddun’s been calling or crying in her room and when her Daddoh finally frees her from her cheery white prison bars, the first thing she does is run over to me and squeak, “Hi Mumma!”

And that still happened today. But this morning, I also woke up with a complex. And it all had to do with this blog, or rather, what I project from it.

Sometimes, I get depressed that I am not the poster child for Christianity. I still fret. I still say the wrong things, I still think the wrong things, I injure others – sometimes deliberately. Often, I look at myself and my life and my impulses, and wonder how I dare to claim I’m in the field of public relations and marketing. Because I am not the poster child for Christianity.

I woke up this morning and wondered if blog posts like this very one I’m writing are counterproductive to the cause for Christ. Because if I’m a Christian, and I believe I’m washed and shiny and new, then why am I still so insecure? I woke up this morning and wondered if perhaps I am being too honest. Too quick to air my dirty laundry, to turn my insides outside and talk about how I continue to struggle as a wife, as a mother, as a Christian. Because the consummate PR thing would be to talk about the good and the great. To project effortless joy and quiet confidence, to talk only about the upside because there should ONLY be an upside to living a life in Christ.

Except, it has always gone against my conscience to project nothing but the smooth veneer of polished Christianity. Especially when I am not a smooth, polished, glib Christian. Not by a long shot.

This. This struggle is one that I mull over often, because I wonder about the cost of brutal honesty. And yet it strikes at the very heart of my personal identity. The biggest insult you can ever give me is to question whether my insides match my outsides, because I hate to think myself a hypocrite and I work very hard at not being one. I fiercely guard my authenticity and my sincerity. I don’t ever want to live a double life. Or a quadruple life – a version at home, a version at work, a version in church, a version at Mother’s Group. I understand that there are layers of ourselves we reveal to others over time, like the peeling of an onion. I am the same. But it is always important to me that I never fake out.

And yet, in always being stark and honest to those closest to me about my sins and struggles, I wonder if I’ve inadvertently turned them away from seeking Christ. Has my word-of-mouth advertising for the flawed Christian life that I lead so uninspiring a product that it’s gotten them to try out the competitor’s? They say that your personal walk with God is the greatest evangelism tool there is, and yet my track record for baptisms hasn’t been great – so maybe it’s telling me something about my PR spiel. “Lighten up, Blogger. You’re scaring away the tourists.”

And yet, it is so, so, SO important to me that my friends and loved ones know about ALL of it. That it’s not all Happy Clappy because sin sits at the door like horrid spiders waiting to come in and spin webs, and that’s normal. That they see that I fall down all the time, but that I want to get up for Christ – not because I’m this religious powerhouse with a rock solid faith, but because there is a God who forgives plenty and gives me a fresh slate each morning if only I ask. That they wonder how that someone – who continues to muck up big time, who sometimes gets super hurt or disappointed by people in the church, who in turn sometimes hurts and disappoints loved ones and people in the church – still stubbornly holds on to this notion of God. I hope they see that it isn’t blind faith, but a relationship I’ve entered into with eyes wide open.

That the honesty – blogging about the good and the funny and the bad – is my way of ensuring I don’t glory or boast, except about Christ.

That’s my prayer. That’s my one consolation. That in spite of my life and my tongue, I can still be a poster child for God.

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