Tuesday, January 12, 2016

I think she actually learned something!

Have you ever heard the principle that your biggest trials will also be your greatest teachers? My oldest daughter has been my greatest teacher since the day she was born, in more ways than I can say. Her entrance onto this mortal scene was itself was a huge lesson. As I experienced the full force of unmedicated birth for the first time, I kept crying out to God for a way out of that intense pain- Surely there must be some escape.  The answer came loud and clear; "The only way out is through" and that mantra that has echoed through every struggle of these past 17 years. This child has been the catalyst for much of the emotional work that I have done and for that I am so grateful. She has stretched me beyond all of my perceived limits and compelled me to re-form myself stronger and better than I was before. She is a force to be reckoned with and I gave up on teaching her anything years ago. I decided that the only person I could change was myself, and set out to do just that.

When this girl was born, I was a total disaster. I didn't know how to keep my bedroom clean, or do the laundry, or really organize anything in my life. I guess I physically knew how to do those things, I just didn't know how to blend them all together in a way that would make a household actually run. I forgot children at school on multiple occasions and let heaps of clean laundry pile up on a regular basis. The kitchen looked like a science experiment most of the time and we used plastic spoons because it was easier than washing metal. It was bad. Over time, I figured out how to keep the house running, and I moved onto other stuff. I took up daily exercise, learned how to eat right,  how to set and achieve goals and on an on. I have loved every step of the journey of self improvement. Every time I learned something new, I was eager to share it with my family, sure they would want to join me in my newfound passion. Wrong. They usually chalked it up to "My mom is crazy" and kept right on doing what they were doing-eating junk food, reading twaddle, and all the things normal kids do.  I was afraid I had failed. Oh well, I thought, at least I am healthy and happy. Then something happened.

A few weeks ago, I got a text from Ms. Independent (from the other room) that said:

I was stunned. I'd been trying to get my kids to exercise for seriously 12 years, and they were about as interested as a toddler is in broccoli.  Was she serious? Exercise? BOOTCAMP? And she actually researched and sent me a link? So naturally we signed up. And we have gone faithfully for almost 3 weeks.

Then this text exchange the other day after she went shopping for a new bedspread for herself (with her own money). I am the texter in blue.

Was this my daughter? After years of begging for the most expensive item available in any given situation, was she CHOOSING the practical option?

Then this morning, I was blow drying my hair, and she came in with another bit of wisdom.

"Will you help me hang pictures in my room? I know I've been keeping it ugly all this time because I was like 'I'm moving to London' but I think we both know that isn't happening anytime soon, so I decided I may as well make it a place I actually like to be."

From the mouths of babes! She has learned, for herself, that if we are constantly refusing to be happy in the present because we are holding out for some lofty future goal, it isn't helpful. She learned to that she is worthy of beauty and joy even if she isn't done yet. She learned that from me as she watched me loathe my surroundings for 7 long years, refusing to make a home until the house was perfect. Thank goodness she saw that struggle!

These may seem like small things to you, but to me, they were HUGE! I share them not to brag or to set myself up as some kind of example. I share them to offer hope. You may feel overwhelmed when you look around at your children and think of all that is needed to shape them into the people you want them to become. I would challenge you to stop looking at them, and start looking at you.  I hope today that you will walk away from this post with a knowledge that when you begin with yourself, it's like tossing a pebble into a lake-The ripples go out for generations to come. The greatest effect you can have on your family is to do the thing you want them to do. Your example will speak far louder than any words you will ever speak.

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