Monday, February 24, 2014

Bigger Picture Moments: Why We Need to Know Who We Are

He came roaring out of my body and into my arms, a mighty lion-baby that knew what he wanted and how to make sure his first-time mama didn't just jump but jumped high enough and long enough and wide enough, too, to quite his loud roars..

That hasn't faded from him during his almost seven years of life.

He just roars now in a way that makes my head ache and my heart wonder why we can't just all get along.

He wants answers at any cost, and I want peace at almost the same intensity.

He demands reasonable explanations, and I scurry to find them, which doesn't come easy for a feeling  and sensing soul and doesn't come fast enough for a thinker.

I've spent many of our long days together since he's become increasingly logical and capable of understanding more information than I could possibly keep straight in my head feeling absolutely deflated by this strong-willed, justice-oriented, reason-seeking thinker.

I've cried in my husband's arms over this boy of mine more times than I can count, trying to understand why why why he bristols at my direction and seemingly obliviously stomps all over my heart some days.

I've wondered aloud, asking God if we'd done something in parenting wrong. Why did we have such discord in our relationship?

****

At 31, I'm still learning about who I am without the thick skin I wore for so long, a source of protection for a heart that had been deeply wounded.

As I've allowed Him to peel layer by layer off of me, I've increasingly become aware that while I enjoy thinking about things that deeply matter, more I walk through life feeling everything.

While a friend and I were traveling together two weeks ago, she pointed out that my oldest son and I come at life very differently -- so differently that it's almost like we're speaking entirely different languages, often missing what each other are saying.

She encouraged me to take the Myers Briggs Personality Test, and we found that I am very much the epitome of a The Caregiver --people-loving and sympathetic, down-to-earth and practical, enthusiastic and energetic, stability-craving and thorough.

I knew some of this about myself, but after reading the profile for my type, I'd fully recognized how I come at life -- caring very much about harmony and other's feelings and often valuing both more than valuing having all the answers to everything.

Knowing this about myself helped me have a light bulb moment while talking with my friend about parenting my oldest son -- because essentially it helped me realize that my oldest is the exact opposite  in how he comes at the world -- he values answers, the logical and sensical, before feelings or hearts.

And it all clicked at how we've both been speaking English but not the same language.

The simple recognition of understanding how he takes in the world and makes sense of it and goes after life helped me to alter my communication efforts with him to provide more structure, more reason and less feelings and more black and white facts than vague gray ones -- like feelings.

Our difference, when unknown, have been a source of frustration, when actually they could be a source of strength.

I need people like my oldest son -- desperately in fact! While I like structure and I am typically semi-organized, I need people like him who ask the really hard, thought-out questions to keep me from following every idea that floats across my highly-idea-trafficked brain {One of my strengths in the StrengthsFinders is Maximizing -- meaning nothing is good until it's AWESOME. You can see how I could get really bogged down if I followed every idea and tried to make it awesome.} I need people like him to remind me that not every feeling needs to rule and that not everyone feels as deeply as I do.

And he needs people like me to teach him and then remind him that feelings are God-given and need to have room in his life to express and be expressed.

****

This whole thing about knowing who we are and taking the time to recognize who others are extends beyond motherhood, though. I believe it has deep ramifications for the Church, too, if we are to be the Body of Christ.

Awesomely, my oldest son is a lot like my good friend who pointed out these differences in the first place, the same friend who has often said she needs me in her life to remind her that mercy is as important as truth-telling and justice.

Not because she needs to transform who she is to be more like me but, rather, so we can recognize the value of working together.

Can we each grow in our areas that aren't as developed? Yes! But, more, recognizing each other's strengths and who they were made to be and then working together better helps us function as a real, living Body.

During our conversation, we both recalled how other people have tried to "fix" us, down playing our strengths and defining them as weaknesses when instead the more beneficial thing would be to come along side each other and help refine our strengths so that the really are strengths not only to us individually but also as a Body, a community.

I mused aloud about how frustrating it must be for my oldest son to often feel like he's trying to be shaped into a leg {unintentionally by me at times} when he really needs to be celebrated for being an arm.

Of course, I'm not advocating that we leave the leg alone to do just what the leg wants. It's part of the Body, after all, and it needs to learn to function as part of the Body. Does the leg need to be exercised and made stronger? Yes! Of course! It needs training to be able to go the distance, to be what it was made to be for itself and for the Body. But it doesn't need plastic surgery to become a different part altogether. There's a line, and that line is broadening in my mind.

We need to recognize who we are so we can be who we were made to be

and not just for our own benefit but for that of each other, too.

**I highly recommend taking both the Myers Briggs Test and the StregnthsFinders test to help you discern where you strengths lie and how they can be honed.

1 comment:

  1. So much here. My husband and I did this with/for each other. We learned how to value how differently we approached nearly everything, and have loved the years of learning together. Add in the two kids - who are as different as two kids could be...and there's quite a mix! I, too, took a long while to learn just how different people are from each other...from me. I think, in fact that church life - body life - slowed down this growth process. It's so very hard for a congregation to not take on/value/hold up the strengths of those in leadership. I believe that God believes in His church...so I'm sure it can be done. But, oh boy...it's hard. And we do so, with all good Christian intent, long to "fix" each other! This is, to me, the mystery of Christ at its most poignant. Men who imitate Christ become more masculine. Woman, more feminine. Thinkers more thoughtful and the compassionate...well they grow in mercy. And as we imitate Him, even the rougher, weaker sides of who we are are sharpened. He is, after all, that perfect embodiment... I'm so glad my husband and I are so different - for many reasons. Probably the most important of those is that it taught me early on not to try and "fix" my kids. Just to learn them. And learn from them. To enjoy them. Anyhow - huge light bulb moment, with so many layers!! Thanks for sharing your heart - as always - so wonderfully!

    ReplyDelete

There's nothing better than good conversation ... but not while talking to myself. Will you play a part in this discussion?

AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.

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