Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bless One Person A Day

My son and I pray each and every morning for God to present us with the opportunity to be a blessing to someone. Then, at the end of the day we share with each other how we received the opportunity and were a blessing. It has been amazing how my son has responded to this! There have been several moments when I well up with tears at how he has blessed someone during his day.

There was one blessing that stands out in my mind because, as a child myself, I had the exact opposite experience.

We’ve been allowing our son to ride his scooter around the block alone. It’s a baby step to encourage him to be more independent. He will go around the circular block several times… it is fun to watch him be so free. Like a little baby bird learning to flap his wings. He just rides his scooter, talks to himself, sings songs, and his hair flaps in the wind that he creates with his speed.

One day he took a little bit longer to round the block. With my son’s ADHD, we worry he will see something shiny and end up in Mexico. So, my husband went to peek around the corner. Our son had stopped his freedom ride and was picking weeds from a neighbor’s yard. We don’t even know that neighbor. Picking weeds!!!!

When my husband asked why he stopped to pick weeds our son said, “A proper man finds a way to bless one person a day!” A proper man… give me a moment… I cry every time I think of this. We didn’t ask him to pick weeds. He was just out enjoying his own freedom, on his own time… just him, his scooter, and his wind. He stopped on his own to bless someone.

As I think back to my childhood, I cannot even relate to this. When I was a child, my father used to have me pull the weeds in the front yard. For the entire world to see! I am certain he had his legitimate reasons why, but in my young child mind I was certain it was because he was out to ruin me socially. All I could think of while I was begrudgingly picking weeds was “What if someone I went to school with walked by… I’d be mortified and ruined.” I truly felt my chore to pull weeds was an evil scheme or some sort of punishment.

And to think, here’s my child pulling someone else’s weeds… on his own!

Now that I am a parent, I understand why we have our children do chores and acts of service for others. But, when I was a child, the importance of chores was not explained to me. They were just demanded. I cannot stress enough how important it is to teach these life lessons to our children. There are so many life lessons to be learned with chores… if you take the time. I wrote about an opportunity to teach these lessons in Hard Moments.

As parents, we teach these lessons so that our children can grow up to be contributing members of our society, so that they know nothing is beneath them, so that they learn to do everything without complaining and arguing, so that they can work as if working for the Lord (not for man), and so that they can bless one person a day… because, to quote a child of God… “A proper man finds a way to bless one person a day!”

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Four Things About Marriage

One of my dearest and best-est friends is getting married; which has me thinking about marriage itself. If I could go back 20 years ago, when I met the man I married, I wondered what I would tell my Young Self about marriage.

Run away… really fast?! No, of course not… don’t be silly.

I would tell myself that there are 4 really important things to remember… okay, there are really between 24 and 29 really important things to remember, but, in all honesty, that’s too much to remember. So, let’s stick with 4 things and… you’ll just learn the rest as you go. It’ll be fun!

Number 1: Young Self, Keep God at the center of your marriage. Pray for each other. Pray for God to meet you in whatever place or season you happen to be residing. Whatever you do don’t pray that your spouse gets run over by a bus… that would be wrong!

Number 2: Young Self, Love is a choice… a daily choice! Sure when love is young and fun and hot… it is easy to choose love. But, when the youngness, fun-ness, and hotness all go away… far, far away… it is work to choose to love another person. You must choose love even when you don’t “like” your spouse. You must choose love even when you are praying for that bus to zoom by… really fast. I mean… NOT praying for that… NOT. Praying. For. That.

Number 3: Young Self, Marriage is all about hills and valleys. Sometimes the valleys between the hills are short. Sometimes the valleys between the hills are looooong… even years long. In the valley, is where you will pray the most and choosing to love one another will be the hardest. But, at the top of the hill is where you see your future… as far as your eyes can see (with glasses because you’ll be needing glasses by this point). Remember that hilltop view when you are in a valley, it will help. Most couples quit in the valley because they cannot see what is just beyond the horizon. It is also a possibility that they are too busy looking through their binoculars for that darn bus.

Number 4: Young Self, Be willing! Willing to say you’re sorry first, willing to love more sometimes, willing to put another person’s needs before your own, willing to remain friends, willing to communicate even when it hurts, willing to make the first move (whatever that might mean to you… wink-wink, nudge-nudge), willing to commit your life to another person for-EVER, and be willing to actually step out in front of that bus to save your spouse!

So, if I told my Young Self all of this 20 years ago… hopefully, I would still think it was “like a totally cool” idea to marry my wonderful boyfriend because I wouldn’t change that decision for anything in the world.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Shame Resilient

The other day a situation happened between me and one of my best friends. I don’t want to share details and conjure up the past, so we’ll call it the “situation”. This situation left me feeling unworthy and undervalued. It was an imperfect situation between two imperfect people. It happens.

The reason I am sharing this vague situation is not really about the situation at all… it is about what surfaced in me and how I dealt with those imperfect feelings… it is about my journey to becoming shame resilient.

When the situation occurred, I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t about me. But, those little shameful gremlins snuck up on me. The more I tried to push the feelings away and keep them to myself, the more they grew.

So within 5 hours of the situation… I was hurt to the core, I cried, and I confronted my friend. I felt as though I wasn’t important to her. I felt as though maybe I loved her more than she loved me. I felt I wasn’t worthy.

What I was feeling was shame. And that shame built up into misconception and lies.

 I leaned into the discomfort of the hurt I was feeling and recognized my shame trigger was pulled. I talked with my husband and I reached out to another best friend who both have earned the right to hear my story… who both can show empathy and derail my shame spiral. These are HUGE steps for me!

Pulling away has always been my default system and my defense mechanism. In the past, I probably would have allowed a situation like this to destroy my friendship. I would have shamed myself into feeling that I wasn’t worthy of love after all. I would have kept my feelings to myself. I would have pulled away and withdrawn from that friendship.

But… I DID NOT PULL AWAY!   I did not over identify with my hurt. I did not shrink. I did not own the lies of shame. THIS IS SHAME RESILIENCE! I did it! I overcame my unhealthy default system!

One of my favorite authors is Brene Brown. In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” she lists the four elements of shame resilience:
Name it.
Talk about it.
Own your story.
Tell the story.

I named it when I realized what I was feeling was shame… fearful that I wasn’t worthy. I talked about it with my husband and another best friend. I owned my own story and saw the blessings that came from this experience. And now, I am telling my story.

My story is that I am loved, I am worthy, I am enough, and I belong. I chose to show-up, let my vulnerability be seen, and be real! I chose to believe my story instead of believing the shameful lies.

24 hours after the situation… I felt so blessed that I was hurt because through that I could see the work that God has done in me. I felt blessed that I have best friends that I can be real with. I felt blessed that my friend apologized. I felt blessed that I have a friendship in my life that is worth fighting for. But most of all, I felt blessed that all of my hard work to rise above my unhealthy default system has actually paid off.

Sharing my story is part of my journey to change, but maybe you have felt these feelings before too. When we have these “You Too?!” moments we begin to shine light on shame… and shame cannot live in the light, only in the darkness. Please share your shameful story with someone who has earned that right… with someone who will show you empathy. Become shame resilient.