Courage and Grace

I wake up most mornings at 5:30am, journal, read, and enjoy a cup of tea. An hour later, I’m making sure our youngest is awake and preparing for his morning run. He meets his running group and I start my 4-5 mile walk. My days are filled with household chores, lunch with my husband, writing, researching, meeting friends for coffee, and helping others with interview preparation.

My thoughts have recently been wandering to the concerns today’s kids and parents need to navigate, and sometimes this whole “finding balance in my day” just doesn’t happen. Our kids are exposed to so much more these days than we were as we grew up. Long gone are the simple summer conversations: What happened during lunch this past year? Guess what we did in PE. Which camps can I go to?

We have faced, with joy and courage, topics that a generation ago were never talked about. Throughout this summer we’ve had conversations about pronouns, sexual preference, and gender identity. Our youngest has several friends who now go by new pronouns or new names. He’s shared stories about friends who are struggling with balancing who they are with who they think or feel they should be. We’ve had kids come over to visit, and their parents come to the door, letting me know that Ashley is now James, and ask if I’m okay with that. My response is always, “Yes, of course.” I think to myself, “Why wouldn’t I be?” One young boy, who last year identified as a girl, shared how thankful he was to be included in their friend group. The kids don’t care that he was a girl who now identifies as a boy. I’m so proud of the way our son has welcomed everyone, without worrying about how they identify.

He doesn’t understand why their parents, or some people in general, can’t just love them for who they are. They’re still the same person, just with a different name or pronoun. Some have supportive parents and some parents are struggling to understand what’s going on with their children.

During these conversations, I’m trying to balance what I do and say, to ensure that I speak out of love and acceptance of “the other.” I realize the difficulties in navigating the world we live in today. I try to be committed to what my faith as a Christian tells me and to raising children as good Christians, while simultaneously being open-minded, accepting, and loving of everyone. These things should not be mutually exclusive. My own reading of the gospels reminds me that Jesus regularly had difficult conversations. When given a choice, he loved the lonely and outcast. He loved and accepted everyone for who they were. I fall back on the faith of my childhood to help me find the balance tipped toward the side of love.

I’ve been asking myself, “Who am I? What do I believe? What am I committed to? Where does my heart lie?”

This world as we know it keeps changing.

I’m raising my children to choose courage over comfort; to be brave and fearless every single day. All the while I remind myself to do the same, and to be curious instead of judgmental.

I can’t help but think about the kids who are trying to figure out who they are and how they feel; the parents who are trying to understand their kids and these changes; the school nurses, teachers, and counselors who hear the stories from kids who are trying to understand what’s going on within themselves; and the friends and families who are trying to be supportive. Everyone is trying to find some sort of balance in their life while still being loving, kind, and accepting of the world around them.

The life God’s given us is not about perfection. It’s about love.

Our discussions with our boys are great reminders that these individuals are simply trying to find balance in their lives as well. Everyone wants to be loved and cared for. Our family continues to believe wholeheartedly that God created everyone. Why shouldn’t we accept and love everyone?

I remind my kids that every day we each interact with hundreds of people and have the ability to influence their entire day with a smile and a kind word. Sometimes during a conversations, it’s hard for me to remember to use the correct pronouns or names. I make mistakes. I don’t correct myself; I just make a mental note, continue talking, and try harder. Life is always changing. That’s how we know we’re alive. I know that the balance lies in being accepting of others, and each of us being willing to show the others a little bit of grace.

At the end of the day I ask myself the following questions:

Did I love enough today?

Did I laugh enough today?

Did I make a difference in someone’s day?

If the answer is “yes” more times than not, then I know I’ve found balance and joy in my life.

Tina Huey is a mom of two fantastic kids and wife of her hero, who also happens to be an incredible dad and husband. She is an avid reader, and a life long learner. She enjoys exercising. She loves to laugh—to find the ridiculous in adversity. She is passionate about life and living it to the fullest, being the best version of herself, and helping others in a positive way so we can all make this world a better place.