Last week I wrote about our presence, discussing how it is our “yes”. When we show up, we are saying “I believe in this, I believe in you, I believe in what is happening here”. You have full authority over your presence. You choose, you show up, and there you are.
“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own.
You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president.
You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis
One of the most dynamic shifts in my life was when I took full authority of single-motherhood. I made the decision one day that I could do this alone; that I was fully capable, secure in my identity and so full of love that I knew things would turn out just fine. Accepting responsibility changes our posture.
I made decisions for our little family that were mine to make and I stood by them. After all, I was the one solely responsible for my daughters upbringing. Me. Not my mother, my friends or my pediatrician. And when my little girl turned 5, I saw the fruit of my labor.
Throughout kindergarten, she was a pure delight: obedient to her teacher, friendly to all kids, thankful and compassionate. At home, she was mommy’s little helper: diligent with her chores, affectionate and grateful for the little things.
I began to trust my instincts, aware of what was working and let go of what was not and grew confident in my mothering, as I could finally see I was doing something right! I chose to instill values the old fashioned way, by living them, and my child was indeed learning them.
Here is the real truth: I did receive scoffing for how I disciplined my child. I listened to taunting in response to why I did or did not allow certain things in my home. I took in opposing beliefs that claimed God’s way is only this way. I even endured ridicule for not indulging in specific foods.
My daughter is now in high school and I am so very proud of who she has become. Humbly, I will accept any compliments of her as compliments of the mothering she received.
I now know that sometimes people respond through a filter. This is their own personal filter and it is important for us to recognize this. When your words travel through someone elses filter, they are applying what you are saying to their own life and responding to how it makes them feel.
If you speak about an upcoming risk or adventure, the worry wart will respond with worry and fear; If you share the news of a promotion, the jealous and competitive will refrain from celebrating you; If you step out of an organization, community or relationship, the selfish will react to how it makes them feel, even though it may be the best decision for you and your family.
One of my favorite tests is this: Want to test the depth of a friendship? Disagree with them. If you can disagree and still love and respect and encourage each other, you have found a true friend. If you disagree and they pull their friendship from you, you have just caught a glimpse of the heart; consider yourself saved from a fair-weather friend.
A few months ago I was pregnant. It was not planned, but very much a welcomed celebration. We were extremely elated. My husband and I had 3 children already, and someone responded to our news with, “WHAT?! Are you serious? You are really having ANOTHER kid?! Well, good luck and congratulations, if that’s what you want, but you guys are crazy!” OK then. We really didn’t know how to respond to that. Smiley face, I guess?
This response was a reflection of how having another baby would make them feel and it left me feeling sad. I spent the next few weeks praying against the cloud of doom that was imposed upon our announcement.
Then, there was a certain friend of mine who I was nervous to tell, since she was battling infertility. I felt guilty for being happy. She heard the news and instantly sent me a message of sincere congratulations. I was stunned and honored. Her response to my joy was completely selfless and ultimately, life-changing. She celebrated alongside me because she knew I was full of joy; she set aside her pain for just a moment to be a part of this great happiness.
Three months in to the pregnancy I miscarried. I heard nothing from the women who scoffed at us having a 4th child, but the woman battling infertility showed up at my doorstep with wine, chocolate and comfort food.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ” – Buddha
We are not responsible for how others respond, we are only accountable for our responses towards others.
You are the authority of your own life. You decide who you will follow and who you will not. We are called to test everything and only hold on to what is good. So what do we do with things we have tested and have proven to be unstable, unsteady, untrustworthy or unsound? Let it go.
Psalm 25 and Psalm 139 are excellent prayers for seeking the right path and the right choice; for searching the way that is good and for testing our hearts and thoughts. Discouragement comes when a response is deprived of courage, hope, or confidence. Discouragement is disheartening. It is the reversal of hope.
Wisdom is never discouraging. Wisdom uplifts, nudges and gently corrects. Wisdom is encouragement.
Maybe you have felt the shackles of discouragement in response to something you revealed? If so, I break the dark cloud of opinion and pray you hold fast to what you are called to do.
Maybe you are feeling the sting of jealousy or the burn of comparison? If it is hindering an encouraging response, I pray that you can release this to the Lord, trusting in his leadership, and ask for an encouraging word for them.
I pray that we all continue to grow into the person we desire to have within our own life: encourager, compassionate, loving, kind and uplifting.