We do what we see modeled.

I LOVE to throw a party. And, I’m pretty good at it. It comes naturally, but it also comes because I’ve watched my mom do it.  She’s a natural hostess. She can think through how many people, location, age, interest, etc. and come up with a menu and event that will knock your socks off.  Growing up, adding someone to the dinner table was never an issue – she would just add a side.  Our birthday parties were always a ton of fun. School events always had her touch to them [she WAS the PTA Pres.] Now that we are older, Sunday night family dinners are a regular occurrence, as are large parties for family and friends. [Easter Sunday is the MOST fun day ever at my parents’ house…..see photo below.]

And, she’s incredible at time management.   Growing up my mom worked outside of the home (she’s an RN), made dinner nearly every.single.night, organized the (very busy) schedules of three kids who (almost always) went to three different schools, played competitive tennis, spent time with extended family and maintained an active social life (with friends that she is still friends with to this day). And now, other than maintaining her kids’ schedules, she still does ALL of this and then some. [Btw, she did ALL of this in tandem with my dad. They are a TEAM.]

I lived with her for 18+ years and saw these traits modeled.  Daily. 

A few months ago, my mom and I hosted a baby shower for my best friend. The shower took an extreme combination of hospitality and time management. The week prior to the shower, my mom, dad, sister and I were in Egypt, giving us very little time to prepare.  And the night of the shower, I flew to Spain. So…..very little time to clean-up. But because she taught me hospitality and time management [for YEARS via modeling and feedback], the shower went off without a hitch. Nothing felt rushed. Nothing was forgotten. There was no stress. My best friend was celebrated and loved…..and best of all, I got to do it with my mom.

I’ve had great role models in my mom and my dad.  I do now what they modeled when I was growing up [mostly….]. My parents are Christians. They live by doing what Jesus modeled and for how he called us to live. [well, for the most part….my dad might raise his voice a little more than Jesus would have, but you get the point.]  Every day, I saw the Jesus-way modeled.

In the neighborhoods where I now spend a lot of my time, where there is a lot of inter-generational poverty and lack of upward mobility, the women I do life with did NOT grow up seeing this way of life modeled.  I’ve heard many stories of how they grew up with violence as a normal family occurrence, where addictions to drugs and alcohol were an every day thing, where cleaning the home was not a priority and where discipline of a child was yelling and hitting.  Managing time was not modeled. There were other priorities (making enough money to feed the family, surviving violence in the neighborhood and at home, dealing with the stress of trying to provide for the physiological needs of their family)….and it’s how their parents grew up….it’s generational. So, it’s no surprise that skills that would lead to upward mobility [such as time management] are not present in these neighborhoods. [Want to learn more about the generational and systemic issues related to the lack of upward mobility for African American families, check out Race Matters for Juvenile Justice’s Racial Equity Workshop.]

Think about how different your life would be if you hadn’t grown up learning how to cook, study, clean, etc. How would you have acquired those skills?  Especially if you went to a school where life skills weren’t taught, there were no mentors around you and no resources to connect you into programs where you could learn these skills.

People often say….”well, why can’t they just ________?” And, “well, so and so was able to break the cycle.” These women and families are overcoming serious obstacles in their lives and the ones who are able to break the cycle are exceptions.

BUT, we as Christians can help break the cycle and help others overcome.

I recently read a definition of “discipleship” that I LOVE and fits with how I think Jesus calls us to live.  Jill Mitchell, part of the IF Gathering team, writes, “Discipleship means pointing others to Christ through the way you live daily – the words you speak, the interactions you have with others, learning about Scripture and the characteristics of God through some sort of community. It means living life together around the dinner table or praying on our knees through deep suffering or having grace when we let one another down.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

We are called to be disciples and to disciple. And in doing so, we will model the Jesus-way. We CAN break the cycle and systemic impact of poverty and the lack of upward mobility. It means doing life TOGETHER across our cities – not just in our own bubbles. It means sharing Jesus’s love and pouring into others so that they know how much they are loved and that there is a better way.

Think about how you can disciple those who are around you AND those who need discipleship. It might mean getting out of your comfort zone. Are you ready for that? If not, get ready. Jesus is calling you into it.

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Ps – That little baby bump in the middle of the photo below is my brand new godson, Ashworth. 🙂

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