Showing up

th-2Ten per cent of the Christian life is showing up; the other ninety per cent is what God accomplishes in and through us when we do. It’s just that our ten per cent can seem like ninety to me when it involves something I don’t want to do like confrontation.

Such an event occurred this weekend when Chandler and two of his friends disobeyed me and I had to confront them over it.

We have chosen to make part of our garage into a family room. (Hardly anyone in this part of Laguna has the luxury of using their garage for a car since most of these older homes are little one and two bedroom beach cottages – ours is approximately 900 square feet – and not intended for year round living. So most garages have been turned into something else.) Chandler’s room in the house has enough space for a bed only so when he has anyone sleep over, which is almost every weekend, they use the garage room, creating a challenging situation for us in that outside access to the street is possible without being detected by us in the house.  We have had to make up a few house “rules” in order to manage this challenge.

  1. Any friends who stop by have to greet either me in my garage office or Marti in the house so that we know they are there.
  2. No one is allowed to leave the room on a sleepover after I or Marti has a a verbal acknowledgment that they are “in” for the night.

Knowing the temptation is great, Marti or I will usually make numerous trips to the garage to check things in my office or do the laundry.

So it was that this weekend, when two friends were sleeping over, I found them all gone after I had their word they were in for the night. Marti called and got them on a cell phone and told them to turn around and come right back, and I went out to the street and waited for the little prodigals, hating every minute of what I had to do next.

“We just wanted a snack,” said Chandler as they approached me.

“Well there’s a car right here and you have a very willing father who will take you just about anywhere within reason. If you had asked me, I would have been more than willing to take you.” (We have a 24-hour convenience store three blocks away.)

This was met by silence so I proceeded with one of Marti’s favorite tactics in these kinds of situations. “You know I have a number of options here. I could wake up your parents… I could take you both home… If the shoe was on the other foot – if you were me – what would you do?”

One of Chandler’s friends chimed in, “I would let it go this time but say that next time there would be a punishment.”

I smiled at his ingenuity and said that would be alright but there was something missing. That’s when I got “Sorry”s from everyone and the other guest embellished that with, “Sorry we broke your rule.”

At that my little antenna went up and I felt the Spirit of God taking over. This was definitely an old covenant situation that needed a new covenant perspective. The use of the naughty old covenant word “rule,” tipped me off. The next part did not come from me.

“No,” I said. “Breaking my rule is not the big deal here. The big deal is that you broke your word. Your word is much more valuable that my rule. It’s like gold. You guys want to be men of your word. You are better than this.”

When I told my wife this later, she was elated. This was a positive response to a negative situation. “That doesn’t even sound like you,” she said, knowing that my usual response to these situations is to play the cop and bring down the upper hand, a position I am losing rapidly to Chandler’s size.

“It wasn’t me,” I said. “I just showed up.”

Ten per cent of the Christian life is showing up; the other ninety per cent is what God accomplishes in and through us when we do.

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10 Responses to Showing up

  1. greg Krejci says:

    Parenting is not for cowards. Especially when they get older. They really do need more of a grace lesson than a hand lesson. Good job, John. I’m righht there with you.

  2. Carole says:

    I agree kfd&p, most excellent indeed! 🙂 Congratulations Dad for hearing the Spirit move you. 🙂

  3. Awesome! I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t wanted to “show up” somewhere, but I went anyway and God DID show up and I and others got blessed. “Being there” – which reminds me of the title of a Peter Sellers movie – is so important! Sometimes we actually have to go out of our way to show up or be there. Those are usually REALLY special times.

    Christmas is a great time to be there for people. But when it comes to family, just showing up may not be enough. You may have to have a difficult conversation with someone. But even then, it’s good to remember what Scripture says: “…do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11b,12

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Priscilla says:

    Great listening, John. I usually hear the Spirit after I’ve blurted out the wrong thing.

  5. Clayton says:

    Great “Catch”, John. Just like when Drew Brees passes to Jimmy Graham and as soon as he turns his head, the ball hits him in the numbers. Likewise, many times I find that I just need to hang on and run with it.

  6. Peter Leenheer says:

    What an absolutely delightful story. I just sat there and laughed at the interaction and the remarks made by the kids and you John. This is exactly how kids behave, and it isn’t always done out of designed nastiness, but often it is innocent poor decision making.. Like why not ask if you can go to the store eventhough your are “in for the night”.

    You mention how you dislike confrontation. So do I so I understand the fear to deal with it and just let it fester. I am trying to convince myself that a crisis is a good thing because if handled with humility and vulnerability usually things turn out for the better. We just had a crisis at our house recently and I surprised my wife by saying, ” O, good, a crisis, that means God will turn this into something good”. Without realizing it John I did what you did… up, and yes all turned out fine, but my heart was miserable at having to confront.

    By the way John, the way you handled this gained respect from Chandler and friends, and also from Marti…. what could be better than that.

  7. Gary says:

    I just came in from cutting firewood for our next cold spell here in Colorado, and read this “Catch”. The other day I heard you talk talk about Chandler crying while sitting waiting in your car, and it had come to me that I might bring up to you that I to while in my late 50’s have, with my wife, taken on the responsibilities of raising two little girls, now ages 18 months and 3 and a half years. I am awhere this will take on challenges that I thought were in a past life with my older children long gone from our home life. But I ‘ve been thinking lately that these two girls will in time begin to see my morality entering the late season of life. I just wondered if mabe Chandler was maturing enough to realize that as viberent and attendive as you are and have been there for him, that he may be beginning to ponder the thoughts that I think my girls will come to realize I have less time to give them and that will be hard to accept. I know it is for me.

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