Once upon a time, long, long ago when I was a mother of three little people under four years old (okay it really wasn't that long ago...it just feels like a lifetime ago!), I started reading one of the worst parenting books I have ever read. Now let me just say that this book was the worst for ME but is a favorite to so many. In fact, probably some of you reading this will claim it as one of your faithful go-tos. But for me and the fragile but feisty group of new/young moms that huddled together on Monday nights in my living room to offer each other support and encouragement, this book was a terrible choice.
Now you might be thinking, I thought I was reading this to get a recommendation for a good parenting book. And if so, don't worry, you will! But first I felt it imperative to share this part of the process because if you're anything like I was all those years ago, sometimes you think you have to fit the book, instead of realizing that truly it's finding the book that fits you that really matters.
Monday nights in my house (and the houses of these dear friends) were sacred. We'd gather to talk, laugh, eat and share our thoughts on books we read together. To call it a book club just doesn't do justice to that sacred circle. Yes, it may have started under that guise, but what it became was an altogether different thing. It became a place where transformation happened (seriously...like magical, fairytale bippity-boppity-boop type of transformation), deep lasting friendships were forged, and God reached out and SPOKE. We were all struggling in our own unique ways as we adjusted to motherhood. Many of us felt a little duped by the whole thing. We'd expected it to be a natural evolution where we somehow birthed the children and then instinctively knew what to do. We were both shocked and a little bit desperate when we discovered that wasn't always the case, while also afraid to admit it. It was a deep, shameful secret many of us held. But slowly, on those holy evenings, we unfolded our hidden selves and found we weren't as alone as we thought. And yes, along the way we read some pretty great books that helped us to do so. The one I hated was actually a catalyst in revealing my hidden shame.
So what was this book? Stormie Omartian's The Power of a Praying Parent. Is your jaw dropping? Eyes bugging out? I know, right?!? How can a book that has you pray for your children be the worst parenting book ever? Well, as I have mentioned before I struggled (that word doesn't even wholly explain what I was experiencing!) with fear as a young mom - debilitating, destructive fear. As I read through the beautiful prayers in this book that I was supposed to pray over my children, I found the fear that God had been working to crush in me was coming back with a vengeance. Yes, the prayers were beautiful, but what they had me praying for was protection from horrible things I hadn't even imagined happening to my children. And trust me, I had already imagined a lot of horrible things!!
So I secretly sat on a particular Monday meeting hating the book we were reading but afraid to admit it. One of my dear friends in the circle was this lady who had a little more confidence in herself (or maybe it was just courage) to speak her truth. We sat sharing casual conversation and then got ready to get into the book. She stated with such simplicity, "I'm really not a fan of this book. Although it's trying to keep me focused on God's power, I find I'm really focusing on potential terrible! It's just not working for me." My head was nodding emphatically and as I looked around, so were the other heads in the group. Slowly we all started sharing our hearts with each other and healing began happening right there in that moment.
We decided to stop reading that book and move onto something else. We read so many wonderful books together and still are. The group has changed over time in so many ways, but the heart, the healing, and the hope continue on. I keep that book on my shelf as a reminder of the power of speaking your truth (even if you're ashamed of it) to heal and as an encouragement that when you do, there's always someone else who feels similarly. That choice my friend made to share what she was feeling let me know I wasn't alone and gave me the courage to come out of hiding.
Now my kids are heading into their teenage years. I'm no longer dealing with keeping them safe on the playground, wondering if watching too much Baby Einstein is going to ruin them, and debating over homemade or store bought baby food. Instead, I'm dealing with pimples and mustaches, existential crises (seriously no joke!), and grappling with the idea that my child who can't remember to brush his teeth is about to operate a motor vehicle!!!! It is incredibly clear to me that praying is not an option but a NECESSITY:).
I am and always have been such a believer in the power of prayer and have been engaging in it since before my kiddos were born. But I've been reading a book lately with some friends that is helping me so much as I enter this new territory. It's called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. It's not a parenting book per se, but strangely enough it's really helping me to stay focused on my faith, the power of our great God, and reminding me that "all miracles can be traced back to prayer" in my parenting. As I enter into this time of teenagers and all that comes with it, I can feel fear on the edge of my faith. But reading this book reminds me that God is God and there is nothing too big for him - not even the teen years.
I've learned so much about who I am, who God is, and the necessity of choosing to surround yourself with supportive people who are on your side throughout this thing called parenting. Books and prayer have often been at the center of the process. But little has been as life-changing as sharing my story with true friends, who not only love me, but like me as well.
Lisa is a deep-thinker, a philosopher in cute jeans and flip flops, a Nutty Professor - mom style. She recognized God's presence at an early age and has lived life mostly open to Him. She hears His voice in books, movies, and music - no matter the genre! She is serious about the work of living Loved, loving God, and loving people.