Today’s author is Naomi Sveholm who is a missionary with Central Europe Teachers (https://www.facebook.com/elcacet) teaching English at a bilingual Lutheran high school in Bratislava, Slovakia with her spouse and two children.
Colossians 3:12b, 14a – “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…Above all, clothe yourselves with love.”
My seven year old is wonderfully creative…and easily distracted. The time and lack of focus while getting dressed in the morning have become a regular point of contention in our household. The technique that has offered the most recent success in focus is to fold the task into whatever story is in progress at the time. Dinosaur? Time to molt your feathers and grow new ones. Paddington Bear? Your coat is sticky with marmalade and you need a clean one. Superhero? Here’s your new protective suit!
I am fortunate enough to have a roof over my head that is also my home, a safe space where I can be fully myself. While I wouldn’t say I hold a lot of secrets when I leave my home, I also realize that not everything is appropriate to share with others. I am my students’ teacher, not their friend. There’s a difference between telling my students an illustrative, personal story and griping about a slight from the administration. Even young children understand that they need to be better-behaved in public and save the worst of the meltdowns for home, where they will (in a safe home) be fully loved despite their vulnerability.
A dear friend told me recently that when someone is rude to her, she tries to remind herself that some people don’t have that safe place where they can be fully themselves. She tries to clothe herself in compassion and patience in order to be that person’s safe space. But it takes continued effort and practice to clothe yourself in Christ-like qualities, to be patient and kind with others AND yourself.
So perhaps we all need a narrative: regular reminders to shed our pajamas of safety and leave the house to face a world that often seems physically or mentally unsafe; to clothe ourselves in the feathers of compassion and kindness, the coat of humility and meekness after a sticky mess, and superhero patience and love.
Thank you for sending us your son and others who model your love for us. Help us to find our safe spaces and to create those safe spaces for others. Remind us again and again, as many times as we need, to clothe ourselves in Christ-like qualities and to be patient and compassionate with ourselves as well as others.
In Jesus’ name we pray,