Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bigger Picture Moment: Emphasis

We ask them questions, lots of question, when we're all gathered 'round the dinner table sharing plates from hand to hand and passing stories along words in much the same way.

What did you learn in school?

What did you talk about in church?

What did you do today?

And sometimes, at 3 and 5, they answer only in one-word sentence. But sometimes there's more, a full spread of dinner-table feast, coming from their open hands, open mouths.

It's then that I'm tempted to say we're doing this parenting thing well, that everything looks good. That our little shoots rapidly growing out of the soil of our lives look healthy.

That we've got kids who learn and succeed and communicate. Kids that do and go and see and experience.

And then I dig deep into me, and John digs deep into him, and we dig deep into each other during a heavy homework week for our Vantage Point 3 class, trying to uncover our values -- those very driving forces that influence our decisions, that steer the course of our path, that anchor us in the routines and happenings of our daily life.

Our values --they influence everything: how we spend our money, our time, our resources, our energy, the decisions we make, the relationships in which we engage.

No. Not our ideals, that which we aspire to be our powering forces.

Dig deeper. We loosen up the soil in our hearts and sink shovels in to get to the root of what's actually fueling the movement upward.

Our values.

In that digging and searching and uncovering, it becomes apparent that if we want to live intentional lives of authenticity and growth, transformation and depth, that we actually need to be more concerned with who we are rather than what we do.

Because what we do stems out of who we are. 

What we value fuels our decisions, yes, but our values grow out of who we are at the core, at the root.

This all circles back to the dinner table discussion in which we've been trying to engage.

We haven't been asking the wrong questions around the table each night; we do want to know what they've learned and done and enjoyed each day.

But maybe we've been asking them questions with the wrong emphasis, placing more importance on the doing and less on the being, less on the who they are becoming.

If we're far more concerned with who these little guys are and the kinds of people they grow to be, the passing of stories, the sharing of conversation around the dinner table should be a reflection of our intention -- growing strong roots rather than just good looking shoots.

"Superficiality is the curse of our age. The desperate need today is not for more intelligent people, more gifted people but for deep people." Richard Foster

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  1. Wow. I really love the way you've expressed this. I believe that you will find, as they grow, this emphasis gets harder and harder to maintain...even though they become more able to converse on the level of values and perceptions and more able to give voice to their feelings and the root of their feelings. I found that we/they are surrounded on all sides (yes, even within the churches) with an obsession over growing "good looking" {read high performance} shoots. And some of the rough edges that come as deep roots are being grown {forged, pruned} are hard to watch. Hard to live with. Hard to hear other people's opinions about! And sometimes really helping these amazing children we've been given find THEMselves, means letting them choose paths that are off the beaten path. I admire your awareness. You're in the 'roots' stage, and I'm in the 'wings' stage...I really do believe these are the two most wonderful gifts we have to give them!

  2. Amen! I am swimming thought right now. I often wonder how superficiality became so commonplace. It consumes me at times too. The emphasis is definitely placed on the wrong things in today's world. Getting to (and staying at) the heart of life's meaning often seems so difficult, yet it's so very important. Loved every word of this!

  3. I always love your metaphors, and I totally get it. Too many times I focus on the surface of their lives, but I think now it's time to dig deeper to cultivate those feelings, values and hopes. Oh, yes, oh, yes. Thank you my friend.

  4. This line really caught my attention: "But maybe we've been asking them questions with the wrong emphasis, placing more importance on the doing and less on the being, less on the who they are becoming." I've been reading "Give Them Grace" with my mom's group too and both leave me very convicted that my focus as a parent needs to be on the hearts of my children instead of the "good works" that are so much easier to emphasize.

  5. As of yesterday my kids are all "of age" now. I am thrilled with the young adults they have grown into. But if there is one thing I would change about my parenting along the way, it would be this exact change of emphasis. How wise you are to have discovered it so early.


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