Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sex, Love and...Bible Study?

Raising children does not end when they leave our homes.  The relationship, if we do it well, evolves from that of a leader to a coach.  We have to let go of them and watch them spread their wings and fly with the hope that they will always come to us when they need guidance.  Karen McNeill, our next Perchable person, knows this journey all too well.

She is the mother of a 20 year old daughter named Lexi that, in Karen's words, is "as fiercely independent as I am."  Their relationship has had high points and low points because of their personality similarities.  Karen recognized herself immediately in her daughter and by age eight, they both wanted control.  The love was always there but the fight for independence and fear of letting go dominated their relationship and at times made it challenging for them to connect with one another.

Lexi is now living in another state while finishing up her college degree and is in a serious relationship with a guy she met at school.  Karen went to visit her daughter this past summer which opened a new door in their relationship. "If I could pin point it, I think that was a huge turning point for us. Normally, Lexi would come home for breaks however this time I had come to visit her.  I got out side of my comfort zone and through that I was able to see the life she had built, and I was so proud of her," shares Karen.

During this visit her daughter opened up to her and shared her deep love for her boyfriend. Soon after the visit her daughter had said, "Mom, you are the Godliest wife I know.  Can you teach me how to be that?"

Karen is a pastor's wife and had always longed for her daughter to have a close relationship with God.  She wanted her to have that safe place to go when she was afraid or feeling hopeless.  She suggested doing an informal Bible study over the phone to see what God says about being a wife.  Karen said she would look around and see if she could find something that would work.

After a few months, nothing had materialized but Karen and her daughter were talking more and more.  Karen's neighbor, a young wife and mom, told her about an online sermon series that she had found called Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll.  Her neighbor said it was fascinating and that she was so thankful she saw this series before she got married. After receiving this suggestion Karen researched this a little more and found that not only did this 11 week series talk about marriage, over half of the sermons were about sex.

Now let's stop for a minute.  Put yourself in Karen's position.  You are a mother with a young daughter and you are thinking about opening up this topic which ultimately could lead to sharing about your sexual past as well as hearing about hers.  Do you go there?

Yes, she did.  She invited another friend to join the virtual study and, before long, her daughter's friends were calling into the conference line as well.  Karen shared stories with them she hadn't ever shared openly.  She says, "I try to approach relationships with an open heart and mouth because frankly that is how I learn best. I appreciate when people are honest. It helps me to know that I’m not alone in the struggles or stories that I’ve experienced which opens up my heart and head to learn." It was soon after they started this study that the ladies were opening up all their fears and asking questions.  She answered them all as best that she could and the sex conversations led to deeper conversations about emotional intimacy, mutual respect and the truth about how hard marriage can be.

I asked Karen if this had in any way changed her relationship with her daughter. She said that she is seeing change in Lexi by, "respecting her boyfriend rather than leading him," and she is watching her dive deeper into her own personal walk with God, putting Him first. She is seeing her admit her weaknesses, be open to learning God’s word and wanting to change the way she thinks and behaves in obedience to God’s teaching as well as draw closer to her mom and accept her for who she is.

"Our relationship has changed," said Karen.  "Not only is my daughter the blessed gift  that God allowed me to raise, she is now one of my greatest friends."

Karen showed me that the role of mother does not only apply to our own children.  There are so many people that need to be heard.  There are so many people that need a safe place to go with things that, at first, seem taboo.  She planted a mustard seed when she reached out to these young women and gave them a safe place to perch in her branches.  Thank you, Karen, for being a wonderful, Perchable person.

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