Archive for Friends

Battle Buddies

I knew my last attempt at a workout program was going to crash and burn about 10 minutes in, when I was informed that I would be assigned a “Battle Buddy,” and that his name was Jose. While I can appreciate the benefits of having a workout partner in a high-level, conceptual kind of way, I can also appreciate the fact that there is not much in life that is more awkward than having one’s feet wedged securely under the rump of a strange and profusely sweaty man while one struggles to crank out 100 respectable sit-ups.

Don’t get me wrong—Jose was a very nice guy. And I don’t think he was super excited about having his feet clamped under my sweaty bum, either. But ours was a relationship doomed to failure. Call me crazy, but I want to keep my funky, early-morning workout smells and sweatiness within a reasonable buffer zone that involves minimal-to-no physical contact with other people. I am not my best self when I am running wind sprints at 5:30 a.m., and keeping a wide berth of others seems like the considerate thing to do. Nobody gets puked on, and nobody else has to encounter my gross self.

Beyond the realm of working out, though, I have to admit that this tends to be my default position in life. Maintain the buffer zone, avoid close contact and nobody gets puked on (including me). But here’s the deal: while working out so closely with Jose may have made me uncomfortable on about ten different levels, he provided the resistance and support that was necessary to exercise certain muscles. His ample booty gave the ballast needed to keep my sit-ups honest (albeit highly uncomfortable—again, on about ten different levels).

I’m increasingly aware that God has placed some real-life “Battle Buddles” in the periphery of my life—challenging people who are meant to exercise spiritual muscles like longsuffering (which I think is a mixture of love and patience, but really needs a new name because it just sounds like a total downer). Of course, to keep these people at arm’s length is to completely negate the role that God intends for us to play in each other’s spiritual growth.

I am not a highly motivated individual when it comes to physical fitness. Partly due to the whole “Battle Buddy” situation, I only lasted for about two weeks of the four-week boot camp that I had signed up for. That was two months ago, and although I told myself that I would continue to work out on my own, I didn’t. I now realize that had I stuck with the boot camp, as awkward as my relationship with Jose was, I would have reaped benefits that are now non-existent. I’m no genius, but I think the same could be said about my real-life Battle Buddies as well.


Not to brag, but I’m a fairly accomplished multi-tasker, which is great when it comes to pretty much anything but kids. This seems to be especially true as they get older, a discovery that has less to do with my increased self-awareness and more to do with the fact that my kids are simply better able to call me on it when my juggling act goes terribly awry. Take as one example a phone call I recently fielded from my middle-school-aged son while feverishly working on my laptop:

“So are you coming to get me?”

I glance at the clock in the corner of my screen. School was over almost 30 minutes ago. Crap. “I’m on my way,” I assure him.

“Are you in-the-car-on-your-way or on-your-computer-on-your-way?” he asked warily.

Crap. Busted.

My kids are definitely on to me. They have identified the inverse relationship between the precision of my hearing and the position of my laptop. It’s one of the challenges of being a working mom (can I get a witness?). I am blessed with employment that allows me the flexibility to work from home, yet I am too often cursed with the unwillingness to clock out. That happens for a lot of reasons, like the fact that relationships are yielding while deadlines are hard, and also the reality that nobody in my family is going to be sitting me down for an annual review this year. This is a really good thing–I shudder to think of the 360-degree feedback I would receive from the people who actually put up with me 24/7.

Another inverse relationship that I’m cluing in to is the one between hurry and intentionality. The one kills the other, at least in my world, leaving my family too often in flying-by-the-seat-of-our pants mode. One very small area where I’m moving toward intentionality is bedtime, which I must confess has generally been driven by my singular desire to get everyone in bed with lights out (funny how my drive to punch out on the “mom clock” isn’t hampered by my hurry).

My friends Hilary and Phoebe, who are sisters and each have a sweet preschool boy, are super-intentional moms whose kids are likely going to be the next Chris Tomlin/ Louis Giglio duo, thanks to the Godly influence and intentionality of their mothers. From these friends I learned of The Jesus Storybook Bible, a wonderful little book that casts the whole Bible through the lens of God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” Jesus is God’s Great Rescue Plan, which, when you think about it, is really just about the best way to try to explain the incarnation to a kid (or anyone, for that matter). I read “The Jesus Storybook Bible” with my ten- and seven-year-old over the past few months at bedtime, often with a catch in my throat at this beautifully simple, profound retelling of the Bible story. No matter how crazy our day had been, it was sweet, meaningful, focused time to wind down with my kiddos. Yay me. I’m hoping the mustard seed of intentionality in those moments will take root and grow beyond bedtime.

When we finished the Storybook Bible last month, I decided to get The Action Bible, which is basically the NIV recast as a 744-page Marvel comic book. I figured this would be a good way to drive home a lot of the details of the Bible narrative that The Jesus Storybook Bible doesn’t mention, and while that has been true, it has also proved more challenging in terms of explanation (we’re still in the first part of the Old Testament, and God gets angry a lot). As my son closed The Action Bible last night after reading me the story of Hagar & Sarah (BTW, try explaining the nuances of that relationship to your seven-year-old) he remarked, “Jesus is really strong.”

“Yeah, buddy,” I agreed absently.

“He’s got a six pack,” he said, a note of reverential awe in his voice as he examined the illustrations on the back cover. Sure enough, the crucified Lord of The Action Bible is ripped like a P90X devotee, which is quite a departure from the sweet drawings of The Jesus Storybook Bible. This opens a whole new can of worms, but I guess the two volumes work as a nice complement to each other when you consider that they are each attempting to capture the most complex human who ever lived.

We haven’t yet gotten to the stories of Jesus in The Action Bible, but I’m hoping that the comic strip version attempts to capture one of the features of his character that I find most heroic in this season of my life: his willingness to be interrupted. Jesus was driven, but never harried. He actually paid attention to the people in his life. He lived according to God’s timetable. And here’s what I’m realizing: it matters little whether my kids read about Jesus as God’s Rescue Plan or as an action hero with rock-hard abs, because the Jesus that they are most impacted by is the Jesus they see in me–the me that is susceptible to freak-outs over misplaced keys or a sink full of dirty dishes or drivers who don’t respond quickly enough when the traffic light turns green. So I’m trying not to listen to the voice that would wake me up in the middle of the night with the unfortunate news that I have irreversibly screwed my kids up. And I continue to sow my little mustard seed moments of intention, and pray for rich soil and favorable conditions. I’m also trying to close the laptop a little more frequently. Baby steps.