I have to say that for as taxing as parenting can be, the process contains such a treasure trove of lessons. There is something sacred, beautiful and stretching about having to take truth or a big life lesson and make it easy enough for a toddler and preschooler to understand. There is something powerful about hearing the Gospel come from my lips in its profound simplicity as I have shared it over and over again with my three and four year old. In those moments, I get emotional because it often feels as though I have preached to my own heart. These times that are peppered in among the fits and whining and the other not-so-glamorous parts of parenting make it all so worth it and are often the inspiration for what I bring you here. Therefore, without further ado, I bring you a snippet of encouragement from the Howard homestead.
We try to spend some one-on-one time with each of the girls and take turns taking them on special outings occasionally. However, after a few times of doing this, we have come to anticipate that it might be a little bit of a challenge for the girl who had to stay home when her sister returns to tell her about the fun she has experienced. We have seen quite a few meltdowns or grumpy attitudes during these transitions. These same reactions have also been witnessed when one sibling receives praise for a job well done. Why? Jealousy? I am sure that is part of it. However, I think it goes deeper than that to a faulty core belief that I have seen many adults live out of but few articulate; myself included. After affirming our love for the one that feels left out, what we usually discover is the same. The root of her unhappiness for someone else usually stems from the thought that her sister’s success or joy somehow means that she is missing out or has failed and isn’t good enough thus resulting in the meltdown, frustration and subsequent competition. It’s hard for her to say ‘I am happy for you’ and mean it.
Can you relate? Have you ever felt upset when someone else gets the recognition, job promotion, house or family you wanted? Do you have a hard time celebrating others’ successes? Maybe you have been on the receiving end. Maybe you have tried to share good news with people who are reluctant to rejoice with you without competing. I can relate to having experienced both. Neither is a good feeling. So then what? Here is the adult version of what I say when I coach my daughters and myself. Lean in, and I will tell you a secret. Say this with me. OTHER PEOPLE’S SUCCESS DOES NOT MEAN MY FAILURE. Why? One, because you have nothing to prove. God is gracious, so your identity is not staked on how well you perform or how productive others say you are. Second, you serve a GOOD God who is not holding out on you. He has good things for you. His good in your life may not look the same as someone else, and that is ok. This process of slowing down and unpacking the beliefs behind my emotions is so important to allowing truth to penetrate deep in my heart. Oh how realigning the truth can be.
Our place is secure, friends! We are deeply loved, wanted and significant, so we can make others feel the same by being present. If we have the courage to do the work to go below the surface, we can make strides toward not being the walking wounded. We can rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). We can seek to know each other’s story. Sometimes in our insecurity, the circumstances in people’s lives that we wish we had are actually the result of hard fought battles we know nothing about.
Let’s cheer each other on and love each other well. There is no need to compete and strive. Life can be challenging but beautiful, and we need each other. God is at work in our lives, and sometimes we need the reminder and deft eye of others to point it out. So come in close again, and I will tell you like I tell my children. Jesus loves you. You are ok. You are important. You are special. You are loved.