20120427-184712.jpg Parenting is a good teacher. My children are 4 and 2. This is an older picture but represents the fact that they fight. A lot. Our house can go from bliss to inferno and back to bliss all within the same second - yes, second. Well, ok, maybe a couple seconds. It happens rapidly, is all I'm saying. Here is the scene: I am snuggled down with my feet up at the kitchen table ready to read my devotion and drink my coffee. I have entrusted my children to the delightful care of a doctor for 30 minutes, Dr. Seuss. Grace has a beloved chair she always sits in to watch 'Cat in the Hat', a chair she dearly loves. Today, she got out of said chair to retrieve something, and like a flash of lightning, Elijah was in her chair. She screamed, he screamed back - she started heading toward him, while looking back at me and screaming, "Elijah took my chair!!!!!" Meanwhile Elijah, while screaming "NOOOO," was getting into a sturdy tackle position so as not to be knocked over and his hands were up ready to grab a nice handful of hair from his elevated position in the chair. The whole situation was going south and it was heading there fast. PAUSE scene: If you could just hit pause in real life, you could step back and assess the situation. You could think back on parenting books you have read, that really do work when you ever remember the techniques laid out in them. You could take a deep zen like breath and meditate for a moment, so that when you responded to the plaintive wails of injustice, you did so in way that neutralized the situation. You could formulate a calm and loving intervention that both rectified the situation and left both children feeling understood and loved. PLAY scene: Instead I did this at the top of my voice "ELIJAH GET OUT OF THAT CHAIR, GRACE STOP, DO NOT HIT HIM, ELIJAH GET DOWN, GRACE STOP, DOWN, STOP, NOOOOOOO, DOWN, STOP." Shockingly nothing changed - the scene continued to progress despite my much louder voice and obvious parental authority. Then I had a flash from the Angel of Parenting Mercy given to mom's on occasion. In a much quieter tone I said "Grace, hon, stop and tell him what you want. GRACE, ask him for what you want. It will work, try it!" And she did. She stopped the forward advancement. She dropped her volume level and she said, "Elijah, I want to sit in that chair." Now - I was so proud of her self control. She and I shared zero confidence that this was going to really resolve anything. But I do know that Elijah is a fairly accommodating lad when he wants to be - so it couldn't hurt to ask. I was buying time. Lo and behold, Elijah said, "Ok." He got down and got in the chair he always sits in and they both went back to watching TV. I fainted. END scene. Who knew? Sometimes all that is needed to diffuse a situation is for one person to stand down and be rational. That made me wonder - how often are our reactions not really our own but simply mirroring someone else's reactions? When we are in the heat of the moment it can be hard to stand down. It can feel impossible and weak to stop and help change the course of the conversation. Newton's Law states - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction - but we don't have to adhere to that in our relationships. We can step up and calm down. We can change the conversation. My four year old proved it. Maybe it is easier for Grace and Elijah because they don't have a lot of baggage behind their arguments. Rarely are they actually fighting about a deeper problem just disguised as the chair. As crazy as it may seem, they really are fighting over the chair. And as irrational as that may be, it is much better than what we do as adults - too often our disagreements have nothing to do with the thing we are disagreeing about. It seems there is almost always a deeper issue that just manifests itself in a fight over the chair. So my take-away, after coming to, was to work harder at encouraging that habit in my kids, first of all. But secondly was to try and remember that lesson for myself. The next time I am angry or frustrated with a situation in my personal life or at work I am going to figure out what I really think should happen and ask for it. Who knows, they might just say, "Ok." I just hope, if they do, I don't faint. 20120427-185536.jpg
18. April 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Faith
20120418-192155.jpg There are times when life is so much harder than I expect. I am unclear as to why I am caught by surprise each time. I've known since I was a child that life isn't easy, and the only hope is to work with what you have. Nevertheless, I am often caught unaware by the complexities of life. Faith, as you know, can be a tricky thing for me. Sometimes it takes effort to remember what I believe and why I believe. I tend to want a 'genie' kind of God when things get hard. The last few weeks have been a reminder that He doesn't work that way, and it's really ticked me off. There are a couple of situations where I really feel like God should step in and straighten things out. The people involved in one situation are deserving of grace - and the people involved in the other situation are deserving of mercy - you know, in my opinion. But it seems the harder I, and others, pray, the more stuck the situation gets. So I got righteously indignant about the whole thing. I thought, "Why bother? If You are a caring God, now would be the time to show it." Silence greeted me - as I'm sure it should - and so I doubted, again. I really really dislike doubt. I know this is not a unique feeling, but I just want to know - 100% know. I will give you a billion pounds of faith if you can just take away the need for it. Please? I do believe in God. I can't always tell you why. I can't explain suffering. I don't know with certainty what happens after we die but I believe we go on with a relationship with God. I believe this is possible because of Jesus's life and death and life again. I believe this on faith and sometimes I know it in the depth of my being. I believe this sometimes because the alternative is to scary and hopeless. I believe we live in a broken world and God does not intervene in situations in the way we expect - not very often anyway. I believe there is a larger plan that is progressing as it should. I trust our prayers influence the many alternatives that fit within the plan. I believe in prayer, even when it seems like nothing is happening. Something is always happening. Something is always happening but still my faith waivers. You see, It is hard to take my will out of my view. It is hard to step back and humble myself with the knowledge that my opinion is severely limited by my knowledge. It is hard to remember that God loves the people I pray for more than I can even comprehend. It is hard to remember that He weeps for them too. It is hard to remember that just because I believe a situation can be resolved, doesn't mean that it should be resolved. It's hard to believe in an all knowing and powerful God that doesn't intervene in things that break my heart. These things are hard and yet I believe. I know that God is in the middle of the situation. I know this because of the many prayers that are being spoken daily and asking Him into it. I know because of the courage and grace that is being demonstrated every day by those in the middle of these situations. I know because I know my God. He's better than I am, and He's always right. Something is happening and I try so hard to rest in that. More often than not it is not a restful rest, but more a forced reminder, "Rest Julie!" Try that when you want to sleep tonight, just yell at yourself to rest and see what happens. What I tend to have trouble remembering is that good comes out of bad. Every trial and every pain has the potential for love and beauty and growth. The miracle I pray for may have already happened in these situations. The intervention I seek may be internal and unobservable to everyone but God. Faith isn't the belief that everything goes my way, it's the belief that there is a right way - and everything goes the right way. Finally I hear a whisper, "Julie, rest." And I find I can. Postscript Thanks for joining me on this virtual journey. I can't explain how God uses this public profession of my failings and doubt to heal me, but He does. I like admitting, to whomever is reading this, the doubts that I used to hide in my heart. I like being known even when it is the not so pretty parts of me. Writing publicly both forces me to be more honest than a private journal, and also challenges me to be more honest... sometimes it is easier to hide from yourself than others. I know that I'm still not as transparent as I want the courage to be - but I hope what I am able to expose is read by someone who can, at a minimum, say, "Well, I guess I'm not alone." None of us want to be alone, especially in the fragile times of life.
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