revealing and grace


Our compromised solutions sabotage any pursuit of meeting our needs.
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Need of acceptance/Need of belonging/Need of competence
– compromised solution of people pleasing may result in be popularity but not for who you are but for the image you put forth, sabotaging the only way to get acceptance, the risk to be real.
– compromised solution of withdrawing (avoid rejection) may result in not facing potential rejection but left with being on the outside, sabotaging the only way to belong, take the risk to join.
– compromised solution of critical control (pointing out other flaws or manipulating others to do what you want) may result in inflating your sense of power but left in not knowing true authentic giving and receiving.

Sunday morning was traumatic for the Warden family. It was triggered by us simply being a few minutes late and Joelle not having a seat by her good friend, Emily, at church service. Didn’t know it at first but she was clearly visibly upset. Upset enough that MJ took her out of service to find a quiet place alone with her to try to comfort and talk to her. Fifteen minutes later I proceeded to look for them. They were far in the outskirts of the building, sitting on two seats in a very big hallway, all alone. Joelle was feeling left out and didn’t want to go to Sunday School class because she was too upset.

Actually it was kind of a long weekend of feeling left out for her. That night before her friends had a sleepover without her (not because she wasn’t invited but simply because 1. Joelle doesn’t do sleepovers well and 2. She had a basketball game the next day and I didn’t want her all tired out.). She did okay with not having the chance to be with them and she did get to hangout with them until she had to go home. But I think there was leftover residue of feeling left out. So when she saw her friend surrounded and no chair open for her in the front of the service, she fell apart.

So what does a parent do? Do we force her to go to class no matter what she feels? “Buckle up and get in there. That’s life deal with it”
Do we try to reason and empathize endlessly, hoping she will get it and be rational enough to go back on her own? “Emily didn’t know you were at church and so she didn’t know to save you a seat.”
Do we just skip it and let her sulk in the hallway? Or just pack our bags and go home?

So it dawned on me to simply reflect back to her how what she was doing was sabotaging any possibility of her getting what she wanted. That is, that she wants not to be left out and rather to be received and accepted by her friend. I had to unpack that a bit with her and told her that if she chose to withdraw and stay away from class and Emily she would not be able to feel belonging and wantedness. Her solution to deal with her hurt was interfering with what she most dearly longed for. If she stayed in the hallway, she sabotages any possibilities, though it may be less risky. If she went to class, it would be more risky but the possibility to get what she longed for was there.
She resisted quite a bit. She still didn’t want to go. But we were not going to sit and sulk with her. MJ and I would go to service and get her after it was done.
She did agree to go to class, with fear and trembling. Once in, her friend Emily welcomed her, as did other classmates, and she was no longer was left out.

We often resist the means of getting our deepest longest met because of the level of risk and connection to the pain of an unmet need much like a ten year old would do. Risking is scary. Acts of faith can be filled with fear. At the door to the Sunday School class MJ very patiently waited with her until she could open the door and go in. I gave her a big hug of encouragement and love. Then she walked in.

It is hard to navigate with our children such places of authentic struggles and not teach them our own compromised solutions. It’s hard to be brave ourselves in risking by standing in the vulnerable place. But that is the place of grace. That is the place of true possibility of deep heart needs being touched. The risk is that there is no guarantee. Needs may not be touched, may not be met. Only possibility.

The alternative in our compromised solution has no possibility at all.

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When I am in touch with my burdens, passions and longings I often tremble. My hands shake a bit. My chest slightly tightens. Senses, in general, are elevated. Eyes are a bit moist. I am starting to use this self-awareness as a realization that I am getting in touch with a deep thing in my being. I try to write and speak out of that place and often times find it hard to put burdens, passions and longings into words. It is a difficult task for me and based on countless conversations, I observed that it is by nature, difficult for all us fallen beings.

Sometimes when it comes to revealing me, I find myself packaging my words in frames that are filled with theological, cultural or psychological jargons. Though these frames may be helpful, many times they are not truly authentic. That is, it is not fully me but acceptable images of me. It is a way to make it acceptable or even understandable to the other that I tell it to.

It takes many levels to have deep authentic expressions. It requires a language of emotions, longings and needs. Word we identify as what we are internally experiencing. But the words only are identifiable if we practice self-reflection. Self-awareness is required to have authentic expression. But too many of our actions seek not to get in touch with our emotions, passions, needs and longings. Rather our actions seek to avoid it because it moves us into a very anxious and uncomfortable place. Our solution is not to face that but avoid it. That is our compromised solutions. We won’t get past that until we own that.

The grace of God allows for our frustrations with our limited, fallen efforts in self-expression. He calls to “Pour out your hearts oh people.” (Psalm 62:8) That is a call to authentic expressions and self-awareness. Sometimes authentic expressions are moans, growls, giggles and sighs. Words can get in the way. Even this we struggle with because we want to be and have been taught to be in control. Yet he understands our struggle with this. His Spirit comes alongside our spirit and groans for us when we in our weakness cannot. (Romans 8:26)

When I have a moment when passion is translated through the internal muck that is my soul, when passion is translated into authentic expressions of words, my vision is renewed, it feels like something has been unlocked in me. It is my vision for life, mission and God.

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