Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Just Be A Kid"

I've been thinking about my kids a lot, not that I don't always, but more about them each as individuals.  They are similar but different in many ways.  One thing I've really been mulling over is the pressure society, parents, friends, school, church, family put on them to be "the best" or to "fit in".   If you're a parent, or even if you're not, you probably can relate to this post on some level.  I was talking with my middle schooler the other day about her extra curricular life, and I had to break the news that soon she would have to choose one thing to focus on and participate in.  Some of this is due to finances and some due to time but most is due to expectations.  I had to tell her that even though many of her teachers and coaches would lead her to believe she can participate in a multitude of things, the reality is she can't.  The pressure to be the best, in most cases, outweighs the need to be well rounded or enjoy many different things once you get to be a certain age.  And it seems like that age is getting younger and younger.  It makes me sad that because a few of my kids chose to "just be a kid" when they were younger and elected not to be involved in some sort of organized activity, they are now not able to participate in anything; because they aren't "good enough".  I am not sure how this is positive for most, but for my children it is not.  They aren't allowed to join sports, choirs, bands, classes, etc.;  because they don't have the experience or knowledge that they needed to learn when they were little bitty.  Instead they were busy building mud pies, playing make believe, going on adventures and reading books.  I chose to allow them to do those things and not force them into anything, and now they aren't welcomed into much of anything.  How are they suppose to learn if the door is shut so early?  I know it's about balance, but it seems to me that the scale tips very heavily in one direction.  Although my girls can read music, play an instrument, write amazing stories, paint, sing, and many other things;  their lack of "experience" oftentimes keeps them out.  Believe me they have experience, it just might not be with an organized team or group.  And even if they do have experience with an organized team or group, which a few do, it never seems good enough.  More hours, more money, more time away from family and no time for anything else.  I do greatly appreciate the leaders, who are upfront and tell you from the start, what the time and financial commitment will be.  But it still makes me sad that there are oftentimes no options for children to participate, if you don't have the money or don't want them to spend 90% of their time away from home.  I don't know the answer, but I wish I did.  I do know that I don't regret letting my kids "just be kids", and I hope they don't either.

The Journey

  • The other day I was physically reminded about gratitude once again. I had been in the car for a while, and anytime I stand or sit for a bit; stiffness and pain settle into my joints so intensely. I'm slow to get moving again right after. I got out of my car to go into Starbucks to pass some time while waiting for Drew. The minute I stepped out, the pain was piercing and hardcore. I winced and immediately thought UGH! It was only a second later that my eyes met the woman's, who was sitting on the patio in her wheelchair. I instantly felt that nudge towards gratitude for my body...ailing and all! I walked into Starbucks and my eyes went right to the amputee sitting at his table reading the paper and drinking his tea. I thought to myself, "God I hear ya! I do! And I'm thankful for my body, even though it's so far from perfectly working." Every now and again, I feel myself getting into the pit of being consumed with the negatives instead of the positives; and almost always God nudges me towards the positives. He reminds me that this earthly life is a journey but not the destination! Glory to God!! 
  • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James‬ ‭1:2-4‬
  • "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18
  •  "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

Friday, August 4, 2017

Shy Is Okay

I've always struggled with self image....physically and socially.  I use to be way too concerned about what people thought of me.  My self image and worth were always in question.  Did I offend them?  Will they forgive me?  Did I hurt their feelings?  Why didn't they reply?  Why wasn't I invited?  As a child, I was painfully shy.  It has taken and still takes work and intentionality on my part to work through that.  When I started writing this post, I though I would never say I have overcome it; but then I looked up the definition of "overcome".
  1. succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).

    "she worked hard to overcome her paralyzing shyness"
    synonyms:get the better of, prevail over, control, get/bring under control, masterconquerdefeatbeatMore
    • defeat (an opponent); prevail.

      "without firing a shot they overcame the guards"
      synonyms:defeatbeatconquertrouncethrashroutvanquishoverwhelmoverpower, get the better of, triumph over, prevail over, win over/against, outdooutclassworstcrush;More
    • (of an emotion) overpower or overwhelm.

      "she was obviously overcome with excitement"
      synonyms:overwhelmed, emotional, moved, affectedspeechless
      "I was overcome"

I have "overcome" it as far as gaining some control and addressing it.  I'll never defeat it, and as I've gotten older; I realize I don't need to.  It's part of who I am.  Being shy use to be considered as a negative attribute and honestly it still is by many.  I remember always feeling less because of it.  Over the last few years, I've started believing it's not negative unless you allow it to be...just like most things.  There were times when my shyness would have caused me to miss out on something I really wanted to be part of which was my main motivator for addressing it.  In the past, some thought I was rude or unsocial as well.  This made things even more challenging.
It wasn't until I was well into my forties that I realized being shy shouldn't be considered something negative.  One of my daughters is painfully shy, just like I was as a child.  I could never get her to try much of anything new or step outside her comfort zone.  She also suffers from sever anxiety, something I never knew much about until recent years.  Even now it's difficult for her.  I always wanted for her to not feel the things I had felt for being so shy.  I wanted her to know she was not less because of it.  For summers as long as I can remember, she has attended a summer day camp with one of her best friends.  She LOVED it and looked forward to it every summer.  In fact, she works there now.  One of the things they do during the week is give the kids a bible verse to memorize.  The goal is for the campers to recite it on Friday.  One day many summers ago, I was helping her memorize the verse:
Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; our works are wonderful.  I know that full well.
Each day as she recited it, I corrected and encouraged; but I didn't really listen to the words until years later.  I had heard that verse a ton of times previously, but I didn't really listen.  One day I asked all of my kids what their favorite verse was. Without hesitation, she recited it to me perfectly.  This time I really listened to the words, and I immediately know why she had chosen that scripture.  Those words meant more to her than a treat for memorizing a verse at the end of camp.  They described her to Her Father.  They validated her as a person.  They told her that it was okay to be shy.  They meant she was loved as a shy, anxious little girl.  She had understood that verse better than I had.
A few weeks ago, she was working at camp and was assigned to assist the nurse.  A very shy child came into the nurse's office one day who wasn't feeling well.  The nurse was busy, so she asked my daughter to call the little girl's mom.  When she was talking to the mom, the mom told her that her daughter was very shy and suffered from anxiety and stress (this sweet little bitty girl).  It sometimes manifested itself as illness.  My girl knew immediately what she meant and could relate to this little lady so well.  She hung up with the mom and approached the child.  She began telling her all about herself and her own struggle with shyness, stress and anxiety.  The little girl listened carefully and then began to engage in conversation with my girl....something that had not happened when she first came in.  When she was telling me about this later in the day, I knew (and so did she) that was a God moment.  God knew that my girl could offer comfort and encouragement to this child....HIS CHILD! One of the ways He used her shyness for good.   One of the ways that she was able to help someone else know that she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  One of the ways that He could reiterate again that she was enough.  One of the ways that she could share His love and adoration with someone else. He knows what He's doing, doesn't He?  He doesn't make mistakes.  I love it when He orchestrates situations, so we can see Him at work.