Have you ever had that moment when you were face to face with someone in a hard confrontation, and you could feel what they were seeing in you? As the encounter went on, you began to become what they were seeing in you.
Has this ever happened?
If your answer is no, then either stop reading because you’re going to think that the rest of what I’m saying is nonsense, or keep reading because you’re realizing this very moment what a dishonest person you are with yourself and want to move on and treat people, as well as yourself, better.
You’re still here? Ok, c’mon in to yet another one of my head trips. (rabbit trail – I don’t want this to just be about parenting… this is about the power of belief and how we view one another)
So, a few weeks ago I found myself up till midnight having what I would call a “fight” with my lovely wife. She called it a great discussion however. I was impressed with her for persevering with me, no matter what it’s called.
The topic; dear sweet Adaryn. Middle child. Explorer of boundaries, boundless in ideas and persistence.
You see, as of late, she had been what we will call “extra curious” of her boundaries with independence, passions, and really just how much Mommy and Daddy really meant what they said. It had been a seemingly constant battle, where day after day she was testing fences.
Needless to say, I was getting fried with it. I simply wanted my kid to obey and that be the end of it. But she was pulling more and more grand stunts, and I was starting to see the beginnings of what I’ve seen in so many snotty and rebellious teenage young ladies that I’ve known throughout the years.
After a while, I began to expect it. It was piled up high in my heart, and on this fateful night, my beloved Yvonne was going after it with all her heart.
Yvonne didn’t like what she was observing in me and my interactions with Addy. She said that I was heavy handed, harsh and intimidating. She (from what I remember) basically told me that I was giving Addy nowhere to go for hope.
Of course, what I heard Yvonne saying was, “John, you’re a crappy dad. You make your kids feel really crummy and stupid and you’re a big bully and a jerk! How do even get up in the morning being such a jerk? Jerk! Jerk! Jerk, Jerk!!! Dumb-head!” Yeah, that’s about the sum of it.
I was frustrated at what I saw in Addy. I didn’t want her to be a snotty, mean-girl. I was mad at being questioned as a dad. My pride was wounded, and it was very late. This wasn’t going well.
I had to look this in the eye. Yvonne wasn’t bending, and was totally calm. . . that always creeps me out.
She’s gonna laugh at that when she reads it, but if I’m intense, and she’s dead calm, I darn well better listen.
So I looked at it. Set aside the wounded pride, and look at it. I had begun to believe that Adaryn was a snotty teen. I had begun to look her in the eye and see a girl that was disconnected from her daddy’s heart, and drifting into the distance.
Sure, this sounds dramatic, but it’s real. Put yourself in this with any friend, loved one, whatever that you’re frustrated with. Are you really seeing who they are? Are you really looking at the person standing in front of you?
Or are you looking at the sum of the offenses committed against you? A pile of frustration? Your enemy? Have you lost hope?
Yvonne told me that I’d lost hope for Addy. That she would become what I see in her.
So I paused. I prayed. I pushed past all my frustration. Addy, my sweet little one. That little girl wants nothing more than to be near me and in my heart. She wants my delight more than anything. If I only look on her with disappointment, I will drive her away faster than anything.
Sure, I need to guide her, correct her and help her see when she’s crossed lines. Discipline is not a bad thing by any means. But what does she see in my eyes when I correct her? That’s the question.
If I don’t have any hope when I’m confronting her, then she won’t have any hope that she’ll ever be anything more.
Yvonne looked at me that night and knew that I was a better dad than that. Yvonne knows what kind of man I am and she wouldn’t settle for less. Yvonne did for me what I want to do for Addy; she looked me in the eye and reminded me of who I am.
This is hope.
This is exactly what God has done for us. He made us to bear his image. I know I always come back to this, but it’s just what is true. God looks at us and says, “Son, Daughter, I know who you are and I won’t let you just become another animal. Take my hand. Follow.”
And this is what I will give Addy, Chasah, Allie and all of my other kids that aren’t mine by blood. This is what I will resolve to give my friends and family.
But this takes some homework. We have to prayerfully take care of one another. You can’t just lazily expect to believe the best in the people around you, you have to learn what God actually sees in them. He’s their creator, and he knows who they’re made to be. To see others through his eyes, you have to spend time talking to him, walking with him, learning how he feels…
To preach the Gospel here for a sec, this is how, in it’s very simplest form, Christ’s rule takes over the earth. This is how the Kingdom of Heaven overlaps with this realm; we give ourselves to handing over our wills to the higher will of the Father. We let him tell us who we are… and we can look others in the eye, with hope and love, excitement and joy and say, “Friend, I know who you are. Be free! Come on!”
Correction becomes life giving.
Confrontation becomes liberation.
Being a truly hands on parent, through this mindset, becomes really, really fun.
**** just as a note, in the past month since the above encounter, I have had sooooooo much fun with my Adaryn. I love what God sees. ****