Thursday, June 9, 2016

Negative Authenticity

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouthsAuthentic honesty with others is so important.  God created us for relationship with Himself and grace and healing happen when we share honestly in community.  God is honored through our authenticity.

There is a way, however, in which authenticity can be twisted to not honor God.  When our motives are bad, for instance.  Gossiping, even if it's true.  Sharing in order to boost our pride or gather pity through being negatively authentic.  This last reason, I think, is the one that I've been struggling with recently in the way I talk about my kids.

Being a parent is without a doubt the hardest job I've ever had.  (For one reason this is true, click here.)  Never in my life have I consistently seen the height of my selfishness or my need for humility.  I've learned what it truly means to be a servant leader, even though I fail at this on a very consistent basis.  I've been forced to simplify the way I verbalize my beliefs so that a toddler can understand (still working on this, too).  It's not bad to talk about how hard parenting is, but a few things have happened lately that highlight what has become my habit of negative authenticity.

A Mom Conversation
I met a mom on Saturday during an awesome local event for kids.  The boys were playing on one of those big blow-up bouncy things when I noticed a lady next to me wearing her sleeping baby in a carrier.  Then I noticed she had another baby strapped to her back.  Twins born just a few days before my daughter last August.  Because being a mom is hard, and also - let's be honest - because I was hoping to commiserate, I asked her with a knowing look how it was going.  And her answer kind of offended me.

"It's been really easy."

What?!  Easy?!  Ten-month-old twins were easy?!  This was not the answer I was expecting or hoping for, and I didn't really feel like talking much after that.  I was hoping she would tell me how hard her kids are so that I could talk about how hard mine are, too.

I have a very part-time educational consulting job that includes a weekly phone meeting with another mom of young kids.  In every phone call with her - literally almost every one, I complain about my kids.  I talk about how bad the morning was, or how I didn't get much sleep the night before, or that my kids aren't getting along.  She must think I really don't enjoy being my kids' mom.  That's what I would think if I heard someone talk the way I've been talking.

When someone compliments one of my kids, my reply usually points out something negative about them (which is SO BAD).  For instance:

Person: It's so great that he can ride a bike!
Me: Yeah...we just need to make sure that he doesn't run in to anything with it on purpose.

Person: She is so cute!
Me: It's a good thing...she's still waking up through the night.

Person: How are you doing?
Me: Well...the kids were a little nuts this morning, but otherwise we're okay.

Why do I do that?!  
My kids are great.  Definitely not perfect, but still.

There are times to talk about how hard being a parent is, but it shouldn't be every conversation.  My kids will pick up on that (if they haven't already).

I want my kids to have a true view of who they are - wonderful creations of God in need of Jesus.  I don't want their views of themselves to be inflated (pride) or deflated (self-hate).  This habit of mine is not helping this goal.

Not only is parenting the hardest job I've ever had, it's also one of my greatest lessons in humility.

What is one of your greatest lessons in humility?