A safe place. A place to come home to. Where one feels simultaneously protection and peace, love and acceptance, a place to live fully and without fear.
I admit that my home doesn’t always feel like a haven. As a mother, I don’t always feel like I am their haven.
I can hear it now – “Heather, you have to give yourself grace. Parenting is hard. It’s a season. This too will pass.” And you’re right. I do need to extend myself more grace, but not to the point that it erases discipline. Parenting is hard, but not so hard that I can’t do better. It is a season, but it’s an important one. This too will pass, but I don’t want it to without proclaiming change in my heart to fully embrace and live in it.
I look at my boys and see to young men that are growing up with a mother who is still struggling to figure out how to live to her fullest personal potential, which at times can lead to frustration pointed at them instead of inward. I see a woman who needs to pray more, to be more disciplined, and most of all who needs to be and create a haven for her family. I see a family that loves one another unconditionally, but that also needs to work toward creating an intentionally safer space together.
There is grace, to be sure, of which I am so thankful for. There’s no way I could type this all out without those new mercies we get every day. There’s no way I would have the insight to make changes without divine wisdom and realization and leadership from above. There is grace…but now there needs to be discipline as well.
The other day the word “haven” came to me and I’ve been thinking through it, praying on it, sitting in it. I want to be a haven for my boys. I want our home to be a haven for all of us. And I want our family to be a haven for others.
There are many times I’ve started a little series on this blog only to let it fall by the wayside; however, never have I felt so personally convicted to instate change like this. I’m committing to writing about this once a month as I make specific changes to our lives. I’m coming to terms with the fact that our family isn’t the same as anyone else’s (although what does that mean anyway?) – we are outside of the norm. It’s a scary place to be for someone like me who likes to be behind the scenes and not stand out.
Today I read a note in my Bible about how we are called to put on the shoes Jesus gives us, even though they feel too big, too clunky, or not the way we want them to fit. We are called to step out in faith in those big, clunky shoes and trust that Jesus is big enough to fill in the gaps we just can’t fill. I’m coming to terms with the fact that my faith has been too little lately and that I’ve been killing myself just trying to fill that gap with my too-little feet. Sure, I’ve been called to several big, scary things that not everyone else gets to do. But my Jesus is bigger than those fears and He is more than enough to make up for what I lack (which is a lot).
Back to creating haven: I don’t have a timeline here. This isn’t a 365-day challenge before I move onto the next thing; this is a lifelong challenge to create haven in our home, in our family, and to find it in Christ. I will be making changes – to our home, to our food, to our purchasing habits, to the mindfulness with which we consume products and media, to the volume and tone of voice I use, to the way we prioritize others, to the way we move, to the time we spend outdoors, and more. Like I said, it’s a forever thing, something I will be (we will be) working on constantly.
This month specifically I’ve been working on (and failing at, but progress is progress) the tone of voice and the volume of my voice when I talk to my kids. I have too easily gotten into the habit of trying to be the loudest one in the room, as if that would show my authority or force them to listen to me. What resulted were a lot of frustrations, tears, sore throats, and an ever escalating volume that just became too much. Nate and I have seen in our children how yelling has started to shape the way they react, and now we’re having to backtrack. We’ve apologized a lot. And moving forward we have committed to speaking much more quietly and, especially when we are angry, much more stoically.
Y’all, I’ll tell you this – nothing freaks my kids out more than when they do something that we used to get loud about only to see us handle it with quiet stoicism instead. I have to admit that it gives me a little bit of joy to be barely talking above a whisper and have them listen better than when I was yelling at the top of my lungs!
It’s hard work, this change thing, but already I can feel the effects in the amount of stress I feel toward parenting. The past 3 weeks or so have been insanely stressful for a lot of reasons, and while I haven’t handled it perfectly I am already seeing our home as much more haven-like because of the way we’ve committed to changing our tone of voice. That one small change will add up to make a big difference, and one that I know we will be proud of down the line.
Over the coming month we are going to continue to speak much more quietly, but two other big hurdles I’m tackling are media consumption and the amount of stuff we have in our home. I promise to take notes along the way, and then share a bit of the journey with y’all next month as a means to inspire and to be held accountable.
Finally (and I’m terrible at this), I just want to say that if you ever feel led to pray for me in this journey I’m always open to the power of prayer. It’s hard for me to ask because there are so many more people with much bigger issues who need the mighty power of prayer in their lives. But if my name ever crosses your mind? I’m just saying I wouldn’t be mad about it.
Y’all, if you’ve gotten this far then thank you for reading all 1,200 words of this post. The support I’ve gotten from you guys over the past 9+ years of blogging has helped make me who I am, and I am forever thankful for the way your encouragement has shaped my life!