My son found me in the kitchen, putting away the dishes. We made small talk for a few minutes, and then he surprised me by mentioning that the mother of his friend Brian discovered some of my writing online. She read an essay I wrote about parenting and how raising kids impacts my faith, and then she let her son read it too.
Brian then proceeded to describe it to my boy in a less than flattering light. In fact, his words sounded like a downright mockery of not only my struggles as a parent, but of my faith as well.
My face burned as my son recounted the conversation.
I turned away from him, and continued stacking dishes with cheeks flaming and mind racing. For hours, I turned our conversation over and over again in my head.
I grew increasingly annoyed with Brian’s mother for sharing words not written for a thirteen-year-old audience, words that wrestled with some of the deep spiritual challenges we encounter when raising our children.
I felt frustrated with Brian, who didn’t have the maturity to understand the heart behind my words, and yet he mocked them in front of my own kid.
And I grew angry with myself for writing about my daily life on the most public forum on the planet, and withering when faced with criticism there. I exposed my son to people who, quite honestly, think the marriage of faith and everyday life is downright crazy.
I downplayed my reaction, but embarrassment burned a hole through me all evening long.
The strength of it surprised me, and when I examined it closely, I realized it wasn’t really embarrassment I felt, but shame.
My frustration and annoyance masked the true source of my feelings. I directed my anger at other people’s reaction to my faith, when my heart’s response was the more troublesome of the two.
I felt shame because the reaction of Brian and his mother made me want to erase every sentence I wrote.
I wanted to inhale each word back from the page and bury them in the recesses of my body. I wanted to protect my son from a Jesus that makes others uncomfortable, a Jesus who sets us apart, a Jesus who promises others will mock him and also mock us.
I felt shame because I realized how much I covet the opinion of others and how easily my heart stands at the ready to betray my Jesus once more.
I want to teach my son boldness, and yet I must first teach him what it means to show grace--to ourselves and to others. <<Click to Tweet
I fought an inner battle with my pride, but I left my words out there to linger on the virtual page. I want my son to see we won’t back down in the face of discomfort or mockery. I want those words to stand as a beacon in spite of my oft-wavering faith. One never knows who might stumble across them, and rather than finding me foolish, they may come away encouraged to stand firm in a faith of their own.
Kimberly Coyle is a writer, mother, and gypsy at heart. She tells stories of everyday life while raising a family, and shares her faith on her blog. She writes from the suburbs of New Jersey, where she is learning how to put down roots that stretch further than the nearest airport.