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Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Which I Have An Epiphany

We went to a baby shower today. It was a family shower, so there were families there, moms, dads, and kids running around everywhere. In this group of new friends in our new church, we are the only homeschoolers. No one else has ever been exposed to the homeschool subculture. We are novelties to them. I don't mind. I've never felt so at home and so not judged before in my life. I like it. I love the people. They've opened up their hearts and homes to us before they even knew us and the love of Christ is so very evident in their lives.

But as I was sitting in the joyful chaos of that shower, a thought that has been bouncing around in my head for a while suddenly landed with a thud. Did you know that the only people who expect perfect behavior from small children is the ultra-conservative Christian subculture?? And did you know that the rest of the developed world doesn't expect this nor judge you as parents if your children aren't perfect little obedient angels all the time? When my kid throws a fit, no one looks down their nose at me. They just smile and nod knowingly...kids will be kids, after all.

It's so relaxing to realize. The unrealistic expectations of the culture I grew up in are just that: unrealistic.

Probably most of you are thinking, um, yeah? like this is something you've always known and Darcy must be slow. But see, I've never really shared my life intimately with anyone who has not had a similar background as me. I've always hung out with the same crowd and only now am realizing what most of the world has known and taken for granted. That the expectations and standards of the ultra-conservative crowd are unique to them and not indicative of the rest of the world.

Do you know how freeing that is for me? For the first time in my life, I feel like I can let my defenses down. I can be flawed and it's OK. My kids can act like, well, KIDS and no one thinks I'm a slacker parent. These people love me for who I am, not for what I believe or how I perform. They love my kids and accept my family without strings attached. It's amazing.

I think God has me in the place I'm in, sharing my life with these people for a reason. I think He knows I need it. My husband feel it too. It's like a breath of fresh air.

So this is what Grace looks like.

20 comments:

  1. Darcy, I have had some of the same experiences. and you are correct. It has made me rethink what it means to be "conservative." I still hold to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. I just choose to study the whole Bible and not land repeatedly on those "pink,homeschool mom" verses! The other day I read a comment from a woman who said that she doesn't read her Bible often but when she does,she always goes back to those familiar verses that have been so poorly presented and have been taught with a paradigm and agenda in mind. She is slowly drowning and doesn't know why and the responses she got were to "keep reading those passages and obey them."

    Your blog is so refreshing....it is hopeful to me,let me just say! {{{{{}}}}}

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  2. Oh, and thanks for passing that grace all around...

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  3. Karen, thank you for your comment! You know, I've decided that I can't classify myself as "conservative Christian" any more. The connotations that go with that label just don't fit me or my family. We're just followers of Christ...liberal to some conservative to others. But I don't think it really matters. :)

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  4. To quote a friend, we are in the "normal middle!"

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  5. Thanks for this! We sat in front of one of those"perfect" families yesterday in church;-). My toddler was, shall we say, "imperfect":-). This was a good reminder of the things that are important in life!

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  6. Aw, Darcy, enjoy the love! May it wash all over you and your little family and just drip from all over you out onto a thirsty world. :)

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  7. Darcy,
    I'm SO happy for you. Enjoy God's grace, then perhaps you can really enjoy Him, and your family, and the people around you more than you ever imagined.

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  8. Darcy coming out of legalism is so refreshing, isn't? Everything seems new and good, the stress roles off and you just feel like dancing ALL the time!! I can relate!

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  9. I appreciate this so much. When did perfection become the Christian Standard? There is only one perfect and it isn't me or my kids. Nor those well behaved kids in the front row.

    Found my way here through thatmom.

    Thanks again for sharing your heart and His grace. So refreshing.

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  10. WoW!!! Are you serious??? I forget about that. Along those lines, this only-in-the-conservative-world was my biggest shock when I went to college. I met people so opposite of my entire subculture that I had no idea how to respond.

    So yes, thank you for saying that!

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  11. Keep going and never stop. God is your loving Heavenly Father who adores His imperfect children!

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  12. Awesome Darcy and a bellowing AMEN!

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  13. I dream about experiancing that some day. Right now we are still stuck in the super-conservative crowd, but I've just recently realized (as have you) that they are the only ones who expect perfection and persecute "in love" whenever you don't meet their standards.

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  14. I found this post via Elizabeth Esther's Saturday Evening Blog Post. Thank you for writing this epiphany! It sounds like we grew up in similar cultures. Your post has really made me think about the expectations I place on my kids and myself in regards to how well behaved they appear in public. I know that I am still being judged by those of my family and friends who still have expectations of perfectly behaved children, but why should I let that bother and influence me so much? Really? It cannot be healthy as it is so, so stressful.

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  15. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and what a post that I needed to read!

    I grew up in a conservative church and never really fit in. I thought too much- or so I was told. I wore jeans to church and would not be caught dead in a dress or skirt.

    My DD was born and was a high needs baby. She was a screamer and nearly impossible to settle. I was told that I was spoiling her and I just needed to let her cry it out. We quit going to church for a long while because people were so judgmental towards us. This was at several churches, too. It still kills me that at a time in my life when I needed help the most, all I got was jeers. My husband nearly walked away from the faith over it all.

    Fast forward to when she was five, she was finally DNX with severe ADHD, ODD and sensory disorder. We faced even MORE criticism when we -gasp- medicated her. She went from non functional to very functional. We refused to apologize for that!

    Again, we were in and out of church for over a year before we decided to give the church (of another denomination) that was right across the street a shot. I had been resistant to changing but things in my old denomination (SBC) was going places we did not want to go teaching wise and with our past experience we were willing to give something else a shot.

    What a difference it was! She was looked upon as a wonderful-though very active- joy! Instead of judgment, I was told I had wonderful patience and understanding of her needs. People loved on her and they loved on us and gave us encouragement.

    DD would flip over in the chair, feet in the air or blurt out during the sermon and no one cared! No whispers, no glares, no 'friendly advice' no condemnation! We have been active members for almost three years now and would not change anything for the world!

    In turn, I was able to reach out to a visiting family with a daughter who has severe autism. They had much the same experiences with other churches that we did. They officially joined the church just a few months ago. :)

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  16. Wow, Robin, that's awesome. Our last church was actually great about kids, too. It was just the groups we ran in that were into giving "friendly advice" and judgment. My 2nd daughter is a special needs child (most likely ASD) so I totally understand where you're coming from. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  17. Reading stories like these makes me happy, but also confused. See, I thought that I grew up in the "conservative Christian subculture," and I did see some hints at the kinds of things you talk about in some families, but for the most part it was a very positive, supportive, non-judgmental environment. So I'm not sure if my experience wasn't really "conservative," or if there is just a "subculture of a subculture" that has these problems.

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  18. I dunno what to tell ya, Evan. Maybe the people you grew up with WERE loving and non-judgmental, conservative or not. Maybe they weren't as influenced by the Pearl's teachings as the groups I ran in. I would say maybe my experience was unusual, but by the comments here and many, many other people I've talked to, I don't think it was. Honestly, I think it has more to do with different circles of "conservative homeschool" people and the books they pass around, the sermons they listen to, and the teachings they follow. In our circles, books that taught that your 2-yr-old should always be perfectly obedient or you are doing something wrong were often passed around and lauded as wonderful.

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  19. I just read this for the first time today, and it is so true. In my case, I have only people's reactions to my siblings to go by, but it is very much like this. You have to homeschool, you have to be "modest", your kids have to be perfectly behaved angels.

    The irony is, the "perfect angels" are just as misbehaved and bratty as anyone else's kids, just outside of their parent's sight! :-P :-P My parents definitely get judged over my 7 year old brother... he is wild wild wild and pretty impossible.

    Everyone is a perfect parent of other people's kids. :-P

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