This past week, for our school "Morning Meeting" we watched a video from The School of Life YouTube Channel. We have a Morning Meeting at the beginning of every day to pull us all together, including Matt who joins us then goes off to do his own academics. During our Meeting, we discuss current events and news stories, what our schedule is for the next couple of days, and I will bring up anything that we need to work on to keep The LaJoy Machine running well...like pointing out how dishes are somehow being expected to magically make it into the dishwasher again by the Dishwasher Fairy so I'll urge them to move less than four inches to deposit their dining ware into the dishwasher. Basically, it is a moment of nagging, and then I am done for the day :-)
Much of our Morning Meeting time is largely focused on developing Emotional Intelligence, or "EQ". We have worked on this diligently for years, and it has been very necessary. Our three who were adopted at older ages, Kenny, Angela and Olesya, understandably came to us with few skills, and so we have worked diligently to help them gain what they missed all those years without the one on one modeling and guidance from a caring adult. I use everything I can think of for us to reflect on, find examples from our real life, and speak to how to better handle things. We also use TED Talks, these videos from The School of Life, and articles from my Facebook news feed that I find pertinent.
The video we watched this week was "How to Make a Decision", and I didn't understand in the moment how profound that was going to be for me, personally. Not because I don't know how to effectively make a decision, but because of the insight of one of our kids.
It was explained that there are five distinct perspectives we can use to help us give "fresh eyes" on our decision dilemma, and it went on to explain them (Fascinating how our enemies and death were two of them!) and we had a lot of discussion about the surprising ways in which we saw truth revealed in the five minute video. Matt sat there quietly, as the wheels in his brain turned, and we could all see he had something to say but was working it through before speaking.
Finally, he said, "Something is missing, I get this guy is secular, but our faith is a big key to our decision making." He went on to explain his point, and that he understood the creator of the content was probably including any sort of faith component under "gut instinct", but for Matt, decision making could include gut instinct as separate from being spiritually guided.
I can't tell you all how profoundly moved I was...and we all were...by that. Matt is the one who has, in the past, least spoken about God's role in his life, but who has in the past couple of years claimed his Christian faith more intentionally and deeply. His analytical, scientifically oriented brain seemed to lend itself toward the concrete rather than the abstract, and in truth, I think the process of leaving our old church and methodically searching for a new one, then claiming it, brought forth a stronger sense of connection for him. Obviously, what we had before was not a good fit for him.
We continued the conversation discussing the ways in which we, as a family, have made decisions totally counter to our own desires because something felt God led. We have never regretted such decisions, and Dominick and I have always worked with the kids to talk through such things so they could begin to understand how you "see" God's guiding you in your life. We quickly recounted all the ways in which we have used spiritual reflection (and God's 2x4's!) to help us make the best decisions...moving to Colorado in the first place seemed counterproductive as we left behind terrific jobs to do so, but God had other plans. Each and every time we adopted we had people attempt to dissuade us...particular with Kenny, Angela and Olesya, and thankfully, God had other plans. The purchase of the liquor store was not something I was personally comfortable with but God showed me how clearly this was the plan and I needed to say yes. Changing faith communities after almost fifteen years was not something I would have chosen for us, but God hounded us and had other plans. Homeschooling, oh that was SO not my idea! But God had other plans.
Every time we have evaluated a decision, we have tried to be intentional about making space for God to be present in it with us. In our case, it often seems God guides us to the possibility we would be least likely to select, but not fighting that and being willing to say "Yes" even when we would prefer not to has always proven to be the best for us, hands down. There has never been a single time when we have gone with "God" instead of gut, that we have not been joyfully surprised. I can't even recall how many times my gut screamed out, "NO!!! I don't wanna!!!" and yet my soul said otherwise. Sometimes, I actually hate that, because it also usually means a new kind of courage is going to be required of me, a new level of trust, a new trial to walk through...and yet I grow :-)
Sitting there at the table surrounded by our five young adults, all nodding their head in agreement at Matt's pointing out the need for God to be the largest part of our decision making, Angela...my emotional twin...looked me square in the eye and said, "Mom, next time you doubt your parenting, remember this moment." She knew how much this mattered, how Matt was the more unlikely one, how this affirmed that our years of sharing the ways in which God moves in the world and in our own lives. More importantly, she knew how important it was that in our darkest moments, each of us feels there is something to hold on it, and sometimes the only "something" you may have is God. Only someone who has walked through the darkest of moments herself could understand the significance of this for Matt, and for all of us.
We are at the stage when we, as parents, are realizing the fruits of our parenting labor. We are seeing things being put into practice, skills being utilized, and a gradual maturing into the people we had hoped our kids would become. They aren't "launched" yet, and might not be for years to come, but they are making steps toward it. And who knows, saying "Yes" to God may mean our entire family life looks different from the cultural norm as this process continues.
That's OK, I like being counter-cultural anyway ;-)