I grew up on movies.
My mom came out of a theater background and both my brothers ended up going into the film industry.
Movies and the stories that they offer about humanity and its constant battle to overcome its fallen nature are often how I process the world.
I was introduced to one of my favorites by my two brothers the year Jackson was born in South Africa. The jacarandas were turning purple, I didn’t realize how much a person could miss sleep, and Josh and Luke told me I had to watch, Monsoon Wedding.
So with my nursing, burping newborn I curled up on the orange and blue patchwork sofa in my parents’ den and sank into the story of circles within circles of family within family all gathered for an elaborate arranged marriage between a very modern pair during a very traditional Punjabi wedding in Delhi. And the threads of the story weave and unravel between loss and past abuse and redemption and rescue and love where commitment is at stake.
And we discover an old hurt that threatens to crack the family down the very middle. The father of the bride must choose whether or not to believe his niece – she who has become like his adopted daughter, since her own father died – or his brother-in-law when it comes to a tale of childhood abuse. And up until the morning of the wedding he is torn.
They are all standing together and the wedding party is about to arrive. The brother-in-law about to go and receive the groom. When the man at the heart of the family, the father-of-the-bride and protector of his niece puts up his hand and will not allow his best friend to pass. He dismisses him from the wedding and from the family and we see on his face what it costs him to do so.
His decision is immovable and his body bars the way. But it’s his words that send up the high walls of protection,
“These are my children. And I will protect them even from myself if I have to.”
I can never get tired of that scene and those words, “I will protect them even from myself if I have to.”
On the days when my temper flares and I feel the niggling temptation to let it vent all over my kids who have trailed mud from the door, through the living room, and into the bathroom, who have dumped Costco sized containers of hand soap into my bed, who have stuck out tongues and defied and disrespected me these are the words I want to live by, “I will protect them even from myself if I have to.”
Protect them from the words I can’t take back and the insults that no five-year-old should be weighed down by. Protect them from a mother who flings laundry and rattles dishes; a mother who slams doors and sends the message that her children are what’s wrong with her world at 5pm on a Monday afternoon. Protect them from a mother who cares more about the state of her house than the state of her kids.
I will protect them even from myself if I have to.
How many parents have felt at their wits’ end, eager for time alone, only to have to sacrifice it on behalf of their children? When God calls you into this arena, remember you have one who understands. Jesus has been there. He knows exactly how you’re feeling and invites you to turn this difficult moment of sacrifice into a profound place of intimacy and understanding with him. He knows what it feels like to need some time alone, some time to get refreshed and renewed, onto to have that time stolen by the reality of tending to the needs of others.
Children’s needs rarely arrive when we feel at our best or when we’re well rested. They come when we feel exhausted, when we’re in our own time of crisis or in the midst of our own worries….This is the heart of a parent’s sacrifice = putting our own needs beneath the more urgent calling of child raising.
Gary Thomas, Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls, p. 187.
Christ help me and together we will protect them even from me, if we have to.