We took our oldest daughter’s phone this week.
Elli is fourteen and she’s only had a cell phone since August. She got it for her birthday. We splurged for the iPhone because the camera is fabulous and we knew that Elli was artsy enough to appreciate that. We even got a cute case for it and the not so minimal data plan.
She beamed when she opened that package.
The three of us, Elli, her dad and myself, sat down and came up with a list of rules and regulations about the phone. We came up with a passcode for it. She agreed to earn the money to pay for her portion of the cell phone bill. And we agreed that at 9pm each night, the phone would be charged from downstairs and that her dad and I would have permission to look at everything we wanted to see on that phone.
So on Tuesday night, after MOPS, I fixed a cup of tea and sat down to plunder the phone, per our agreement.
And at midnight, after two hours of plundering, I cut the phone off.
Who were these kids she was calling friends? What the heck were we going to do about them? And what were we going to do with Elli?
I’ve wrestled with this post for weeks now because when I choose to write about things, Satan loves to get his fingers in whatever I’m writing about. He loves to take the truth I know and screw around with it. He loves to take my obedience to Jesus and challenge it by presenting the worst case scenario. He sends crappy mail to my literal mailbox. He steals my sleep. At night, He draws into question decisions that Jesus and I have made in the light. Satan has my number and I have his.
Lately, he’s been jacking around with our kids’ schools. There were three fights at our middle school and our teddy bear of a principal got punched in the face yesterday. A kid brought an unloaded BB gun on the boys’ bus earlier this week and got suspended. A kid threw a desk at another kid. My children are being tested to death by teachers who are simply following the law. There are not enough substitute teachers so classroom ratios are atrocious. Our football team is lacking in talent due to redistribution of children and our our kid is geared up to play tennis except that the season has already begun and her team has yet to have a practice.
And it’s not just our kids’ schools that Satan in messing with. He is messing with my heart towards our neighbors and revving things up a notch. Oh, you like modesty, do you? Well what do you think about her outfit now? How about if her entire chest is hanging out the top of her bra and she’s sitting on your porch? How about that? You have an issue with cussing? Hang on. You’ve heard nothing like what’s about to come outta that kid’s mouth and honey, he’s only 7. Don’t you love how your neighbors pose when they take selfies? Provocative, huh? And guess what? Your oldest daughter managed to make it into that one! How do you feel about your neighbors now? These kids are becoming more than just neighbors. They’re becoming friends and you prayed for that, didn’t you? Your kids are just weak and this is your fault, you know that right? They can’t survive out here or at school. Your little church can’t fix these kids. Your best bet is to jerk them out of everything before it’s too late.
You need to understand that you’re going to have to choose: Your family or Your neighbors.
This is the tape playing over and over again in my head.
My family or my neighbors?
As if there is really a choice.
To love like Jesus, then I must choose to be where Jesus would be and trust His goodness there.
But here’s the rub.
I am a mama and as a mama, I am prone to want to hole up and hide out. Keep safe. Stay secure. Preserve self and family. I’m prone to want to believe that my primary job in this life is to launch Jesus followers into this world, one Harris kid at a time.
I’m prone to buy every good thing Satan whispers in my ear because he has mastered the art of good mothering and good mothering means safe.
But that’s a lie.
Being a good mother means that I give my children Jesus.
Being a good mother means that I make our home where Jesus is and invite my children to join Him there.
Being a good mother means that I teach truth and let the words of Jesus deliver.
Being a good mother means that I make wide open spaces for my children to see Jesus building His kingdom among people who are not clean or neat or pretty. Or safe.
Being a good mother means that when my kids screw up, I give grace through Jesus and trust that His goodness will capture their hearts and that He will launch them where He wants them to go.
And being a good mother means that when I want to choose my family over my neighbors, I lean on Jesus and trust Him to show me how to love both, even when I don’t know how.