Teaching Rest and Overcoming Family Traits

“Those who can’t do, teach.”
After teaching in many different capacities including public high school, that phrase always earns an eye-roll or groan from me. The intent is to be a biting remark and I’ve always found that master teachers show through demonstration.

Tonight I’ve realized that I’ve been called to teach my boys to do things that I have NO idea how to do and often feel completely inadequate demonstrating. Raising my sons has helped me branch out and make deliberate efforts to think like a logical engineer, taking a boy outside to learn tree-climbing and hitting a ball with a bat, etc. Still, there are always those moments when I have to concede; I cannot demonstrate how to properly pee standing up. I’m becoming increasingly aware of my limitations.

Tonight I treated myself to a phone chat with a most beloved cousin.
As the topics bounced from laughing matters to the bare-raw-feelings of facing challenges, I asked her about her two pre-teen children. The rush of the season and her 7 day a week work schedule made her reevaluate the sincerity of the family Sabbath. Church happened of course, but truly resting and worshiping as a family had somehow been overshadowed.

“I told the kids we needed devoted time for worship and for God as a family where that would be the only thing we did for an entire day each week. Ellie (age 9) then said, ‘Mom, I think you’re forgetting something. We’re ALLENS.'”

God bless her, I don’t think a more true, meaningful or layered statement has ever been said.

Hours before I had the same conversation with my own mother. Allens are tough and hard-working. We aren’t the family that says all we want is for our kids to be happy. No, sir. After all, Adam had a job before he had a wife and before there was sin, right? Work is good and if you can’t find work, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Even in the attempt to give God our best, in our sowing and reaping we can forget to enjoy the harvest. We run ourselves into the ground although each generation warns the next not to make the same mistakes. We expect doing what is right and giving the best effort do obey and be fruitful as good servants toward God. (As is dictated in or book from 4 generations ago. A legacy to be proud of, if you ask me.) Resting in grace and not working is a Spiritual challenge and apparently, it is a family trait. Thank goodness we tend to marry people with more balance.

My cousin and I discussed this issue; she said, “I’m learning and I frankly have no idea how to rest for an entire day but I have to learn so that I can teach my children.” This dear cousin knows what it is like to suffer and be in medical pain. She knows the sound of silently crying out to God when there are no words left. She’s worked until there is nothing left and then had to sit and just be. She’s done it well; I would be wise to pay attention and learn.

I’ve been marinating in that all night. I have to learn for the sake of my children. My kids have to see things modeled. Right now our family is facing several challenges. This isn’t just on-the-job-training; it is a test of my faith and what I put into practice.
I’ve been reading in the Old Testament lately and I’ve noticed how many sons go astray because their fathers neglected wise instruction. I’ve also noticed how many times God commands us to teach our children through demonstration, with words, and in celebration.

I’m not good at suffering. I feel emotions deeply and dramatically and pain gets unbearable if not balanced with determined joy. I’ve tried to show my struggling and restless children how to dance through trials, read their little Bible books and to pray when we are angry, upset, happy and thankful. I’m learning. It’s messy.

This weekend I’ve been at home with my Firstborn. The child is always moving, working and building. When processing his anger, frustration and sadness over all that is happening he gets restless and wants to be outside where he can run or play alone. He cleans, organizes, builds and is productive- like an Allen.
Then this week I was too exhausted to go on. I just sat down on the couch, closed my eyes and thought in my heart, “God… it hurts.” In inhaled and just felt The Ache of it all. Suddenly a little one crawled up next to me.
He snuggled. He rearranged. He rested.
There is something sweet about grieving together. Sometimes the grieving means rest. Maybe in that stillness of sorrows when there is nothing except Light and Hope real worship can happen. Maybe that’s what Sabbaths are all about. If we work for His glory, we can find rest in in too.

As it turns out, my sons are teaching me how to rest too.
As it turns out, those who do make the best teachers and leave amazing legacies.


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