Tag Archive | conflict

12/21/12: Today’s advice to my beautiful daughters ~ Don’t let your expectations steal your Joy

As seen in the posts of the past few days (here and here and here), this is one of those lessons that I had to learn the hard way…and then some.

And although I am still learning and struggling, today, I have a greater sense of understanding about how our expectations about where we SHOULD be, how we SHOULD feel, how the world SHOULD line up for us gets in the way of where we are.

Joy is not happiness.

Joy is the peace that comes from the knowledge that we are where we are supposed to be. In this moment.  Now.  Even if we don’t like it.  Joy is the deep knowledge of God’s grace.  Joy is finding the opportunity in the place where your hope and fear and happiness and pain intersect.  It sets aside what we want and what we expect and makes space for who we are meant to be.

Your opportunity in the place you are right now is not a mistake.  It might not feel good or comfortable, but it is not a mistake.  The real opportunity for you, the real joy, comes from how you respond to where you are, and is born from the acceptance that everything that has led you to this place and has prepared you.  It has prepared you to be exactly who you are right now.  The pain has prepared your heart for compassion.  The challenges have prepared you to overcome.  The loneliness has prepared you to reach out.  The roadblocks have prepared you to persevere.

Life is full of a mixture of pain and happiness, loneliness and contentment, peace and turmoil.  God uses all of those things to make you the person that He wants you to be.

Your expectations can make you miss it.  If you are too busy looking for what you want, what you expect, what you think you deserve, you may just miss the JOY that comes from the now, from this place, from the reality that combines all that you have been with all that you can be,  if you can just stop expecting and start accepting.  The you that is unencumbered by all the pressure of expectations is so much greater than the you who might miss it all.

Grace.  Joy.  You.

Don’t let your expectations steal any of them.

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8/16/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughter – Life is full of contradictions

How else do I explain the roller coaster confluence of emotions that are happening right now?

Intense pride
Joyful expectation
Heart squeezing anxiety
Impending dread
Resigned sadness

I can’t even explain the reality of feeling all of these things, sometimes multiple emotions in the same heartbeat.  In one minute I am describing my pride, the next minute my eyes are filling up and I am choking back my tears.

This is it….this moment represents everything we have worked toward and everything I have always wanted for you.  I can’t even explain how deeply I long for you to leave the last painful year in the rearview mirror and move on to lasting friendships and a fresh start.  I am living vicariously through you as I relive those exciting moments of preparation for leaving home for the first time.  My heart just may burst from the pride I feel in all that you have accomplished and all that I know you will be.

But as I plan the menu for the last week of your favorite home cooked meals, I think about the number of days remaining to prepare them.  I shop for the things you like and realize that you won’t be here long enough for them to be eaten…and it makes me so sad.  I’m like a mother bird getting ready to push her baby out of the nest.  I know it is necessary and good and right . I know that this is what I want for you and at the same time, I dread the final nudge.

How do I explain to you that the tears are as full of joy as they are of sadness?  That these tears are the fullness of all that I believe in and want for you?  They carry the memories of your first moments on earth, those first frenzied sleepless days, your first laugh (the most beautiful sound I had ever heard) and your first tooth (that great big lopsided grin that went with it) and your first steps (you were SO excited!), your first day of kindergarten (I was so terrified!), your first kiss (“Mama, Hayden kissed me.  Where did he kiss you?  He kissed me over there.  NO!  Where did he kiss you ON YOUR FACE????), first bike success (finally!!), and your first heartbreak (caused by hurting someone else).  The tears are a celebration of all of those firsts and all the others that came before this one.  The salt of these tears cleanse, they heal, they are the release of the past and the entrance of the future.  These tears hold all the contradictions of the last 18 years.  I release them and I release you with the all the joy, the sadness, the pride, the hope and the dreams that those tears carry.  I release them in celebration of releasing you.

So in those last minutes before our good-bye when I am trying desperately (and failing) to control the waterworks, and you feel that pang of guilt at my sadness, please remember that life is full of contradictions and these tears are so much more than they seem.

7/7/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – What do you want?

One of my friends and blog followers posted a comment on my post about being right, and that comment got me thinking.  She said that she has been in situations over the last month that made her ask the question, “What do I want?”

Isn’t that brilliant?  What if we asked that question in every situation, in every argument, every conflict, every moment of doubt or celebration?  What do I want from this?  What is my goal?  What am I hoping to achieve in this conversation?

We may find that the answer is often that we want to prove a point or change someone’s mind or win.  What do you REALLY want the outcome to be, not just in the discussion or event in question, but what do you want the impact on your relationship to be?

What if I asked that question of myself the next time I felt ready to nag or say (in one way or another), “I told you so.”  What if the next criticism that is going to pass my lips first passes through the filter of “what do I want?”  Is it still worth it when you think about it that way?  Does winning or proving a point or changing a mind still have the same importance if you first ask, “What do I want?”

What do you want for others, and yourself, for your relationship?  How important is THIS comment, this conversation, this point?

What do you want?

Shout out to Sara K. for the inspiration for this post!

7/5/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Be kind, not right.

Being right isn’t all it is cracked up to be.  Sometimes being right isn’t right.

There are times when we find ourselves in arguments that seem critically important in the moment, that get us riled up with righteous indignation, that cause us to rant and fret and worry and stew.  Sometimes these arguments are truly important, but most of the time they are just arguments.  Their outcome will not make a difference in a week or a month and it is possible that in that time, we will forget what the issue was in the first place.  Most arguments fall into this category I think.

Those petty, small, unimportant arguments become a real problem when we decide that being right is more important than being kind.  Winning the argument becomes a higher priority than winning at friendship.  Our quest for right-ness causes us to say things that can’t be unsaid.  It causes us to forget why we are arguing and focus on who we are arguing with.  When we focus our argument on the person, being right has trumped being what we know to be right.  And then we all lose.

When people get hurt because of your victory, being right wasn’t right.

When you get the last word because your words have become weapons that have left someone battered and torn, you lose a little part of yourself in the winning.

When your argument has casualties, people who get pulled into the fray, damaged in your battle, bruised by your determination to prove a point, your point is lost because people will just remember how you made them feel, and not what you were so right about.

When people feel like they have to pick sides and things become so black and white that all the middle gray area, disappears, you have lost.

When your victory feels shallow and your triumph leaves you feeling empty, being right wasn’t right at all.

When you engage in battle over right and wrong, black and white, winning and losing, how do you FEEL?  When you make your point, are you focused on the issue or is your point just a dagger aimed at someone’s heart?  When you walk away from a conversation, do you feel good about what you have said or is there a part that you wish you could have back?  When you examine that part that you’d like to have back, how do you react?  Do you learn?  Do you apologize?  Do you use that weapon again?

The world is full of conflict and people and wars and battles.  In every conflict, there are two sides that believe they are right.  In every war, each side fights for the right-ness that they believe in.  How many winners do you really see in the bombed out remains of the battles big and small?  How many victors emerge without casualty?  What price do we pay for the privilege of being right?

What price do YOU pay?

What price would you pay if you chose kindness instead?  What would the spoils of victory look like if you didn’t win, didn’t defeat, didn’t end up on top?  What would your world look like if you made room for more than one right answer?

Next time you heat up for that argument, ask yourself what kindness would look like instead.