Monday, January 11, 2016

Take your eyes off yourself

For years now we have been teaching my daughters relationship theories. While they have been great listeners and have seemed to grasp the concepts we've taught them, they remained theories for them simply because they are single, young women who have had no way of implementing what we've taught them other than with their family and friends. That has changed now as our oldest daughter, with her father's approval, has started a relationship with a young man. Every day there seems to be conversations and situations where these theories are becoming reality for her. We are kept on our toes knowing that she is actively seeking wisdom, encouragement and practical advice. She has many questions and we are doing our best to provide answers for her. It really has been "game day" around this house and thankfully we've been conditioning with this in mind for several years.

As parents we do our best to instill confidence within them: do what you know to do, pray before you do things, walk confidently in Truth and Faith, reject fear, spend time in the Word, admit your mistakes and shortcomings, repent and ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself. And though she's had this teaching there seems to be a force that is overwhelming her with feelings of insecurity and fear. She's got a hold of something she doesn't want to lose and isn't it often the case that we'll focus hard on something more with a fear of loss than we will with an anticipation of gain?

One incident that she'll eventually be able to look back on and laugh occurred this weekend. She asked him a question that was no doubt one of the most adorable, ditzy things he's ever heard her ask. To make things worse, the rest of us heard her question and all laughed. I looked at her with a motherly smile and said, "oh no...it's a good thing you're so cute." He agreed and continued to chuckle about it as we dropped him off at his house. When he was out of the car and we were on our way home a rush of embarrassment and insecurity came over her. In practice, it really is difficult to overcome having said something stupid, especially when you are trying your hardest to impress someone (which, of course, is the root of the problem).

I reassured her that she's not alone, we've all had plenty of moments where our mouths worked faster than our brains. Being married to a man whose IQ has been tested to be 165+, I can only imagine how often RLB shakes his head at me and thinks to himself "it's a good thing you're cute."  I asked her, "Don't you think I've said thousands of stupid things over the years?" Even my children, who have been gifted with RLB's intelligence, have had plenty of opportunity to laugh when Mom says something stupid. It really does happen to us all but it is our response to it that shows something that sheer intelligence is useless for; our humility and our sense of humor.

In addition to me, once again, explaining to her the nature of men, we were able to discuss a very valuable lesson that we all need reminding of. With men, there are plenty of things you can do that they don't mind and often find enduring. Saying the occasional ditzy thing is one of them. They'll tolerate that very well. What they don't want to tolerate is bitchiness.

She asked, "How can I get over this awkwardness I feel?" I told her the answer is very simple. It's not always easy, but it is very simple.

Take your eyes off yourself.

You literally can not be thinking of someone else and yourself at the same time. You can not be insecure and selfless at the same time. You can not be feeling embarrassment and compassion at the same time. Empathy and self-centeredness do not exist in the same space. You can not look outside of yourself while looking in.

It has been very rewarding watching her develop a desire to be this young man's helper. Just the other night when I picked her up from school she noticed his car was full of snow and ice. She said, "I should scrape his windows for him." I stopped the car, said "yep" and watched her (without an ice scraper, without gloves, and with cute, little, stupid shoes on) freeze while she scraped with a plastic card from my purse.

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