So this week, I led discussion for fellow moms on a book we are covering….and while most days I lead discussion, I am focusing on what they might get out of this or that particular chapter…..A few days ago, I finally ‘got’ something out of this book, myself.
I’m a reader….not as frequently as I would like, as my children require time and attention and interruptions keep my reading addiction to calm levels. But over the course of my nearly 12 years of mothering, I’ve read many a book in order to at the very least, ‘feel’ like I know what I am doing. (Even fake confidence goes a long way in my book!) Every title I passed by I was crazed…yes, I need to know that! So my shelves are lined with book after book, all self-proclaimed ‘experts’ in the field of child raising, or Catholic formation, or parenting, personality differences and so on.
This latest discussion book, isn’t the same as most I’ve read. The focus isn’t on being a better Mom, as most of us, if we bought a book to learn from, are already well on our way, recognizing we don’t have everything figured out yet. This book, actually focuses on being simply ‘happier’ when we are doing the job of Mom.
And I like that. It goes a little deeper into the psyche of the Mother, to push us where indeed we don’t want to visit. Some places are a little ugly….like our constant competitive streak with other moms or putting up our kids to compete with their kids….and host of other not-so pretty dynamics that we don’t like to face.
We just covered chapter 7…Give and Get Love in Healthy Ways. (The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker, M.D.) Now, knowing the rest of our business meeting was jam packed, I quickly covered the chapters main points: How to give love in healthy ways, how to get love in healthy ways, realize if any of our expectations stem from our own painful youth experiences and restrain selves in putting that pressure on our kids, loving others for who they are not what they do, not taking loved ones so personally and so on and so forth.
And then I read a few, short sentences just prior to finishing our group discussion. And while no one seemed to be shaken by the quote…I came home, and it sunk in a bit for me. Finally, an ‘Ah Ha! Moment’ just for me. It was about risk-taking.
Our author: “So find out what measure you need to take and risk it…..Don’t walk away, because you don’t need to. If you lay your heart on the table and the person doesn’t respond, you can handle that. In reality you can handle far more disappointment than you think you can.”
Perhaps this quote is more directed to encourage us to be the first to apologize or to tell others how we feel. This chapter challenges us to let go of complaining, dismiss character flaws, and living a deeper kind of love. NOT that that we are blind, but that we see the faults of others, and choose to love them anyway.
Like I said, this quote above hit me, not in the way the author was trying to explain. See there is a lot on our plates right now. I feel like I say that a lot. But there is a truth there, and sometimes, because of the amount of stuff to complete, other things or other people can get pushed away, as they probably will ‘understand’, will step back for us, let us concentrate on other things and get our bearings.
I admit, sometimes I ask my beloved HH or even children, or other loved ones to ‘wait’, to step back, to give me space and time to finish up a laundry list of to-dos. And yes, they do understand, they love me enough to step back, not stress me out more, and give me time, they give me space. I have great loved ones…..I see that, and appreciate that.
What this quote told me simply, Even in stressful times, there is no need to push people away. Give them what they need even when it’s difficult for me to do so. It’s making a choice to push myself further than what I thought I was capable of. In essence, this author told me, You can handle it. You can push yourself even when you are stretched so tight. Even when you think you are at your max…you can always choose to love, and give, instead of pushing away. You can handle more than you think.
Last night, I put these words into action. And literally, I found myself in another world. There was a happiness from the exact actions I chose to do, when I embraced those around me, instead of pushing them away to finish something else.
In my mind, it’s a level of pouring ones’ self out, faster, easier, without constraint, without conditions, without any hold ups. It was as if, I was ready to let the small stuff go, and focus on what is truly important. I kind of see it as this lesson on life and growing into the adult I picture for myself.
Months ago I created a mental picture or vision I have, of who I believe God wants me to become. And it is very motivating to revisit this vision every now and again. I have learned many lessons this school year, and I can see God giving me all these opportunities to take one baby step closer to that image, that vision of the woman He sees me as.
Honestly, my prayer has shown me steps to overcome these tendencies. God pushes us, particularly women, particularly Mothers, to go deeper in how we show our love. He asks for us to show how we love Him, via how we love those around us. And more times than not, we must pour ourselves out, be first with the apology, and control our own reactionary impulses. How would God measure how much we have given? Are we empty? Have we given it all?
Do we push them aside? Do we ask them to wait? Do we lash out when things in our life aren’t panning out just as we planned? Do we let our emotions run us? Do we keep our own love tanks full, while those around us are empty?
We can handle more than what we think we can. We can push ourselves, even if we think we are at the brink.
Have confidence in your own limits. They have a higher width, length, height and depth than what you imagine. God will keep pushing you to those very limits, and those limits …well, they stretch, they expand. Nothing will burst or crack or break.
YOU won’t break.