This morning, right after my last child had left the house to catch the school bus, I hitched my old dog buddy to his leash and we went out for his morning moment with a tree. Buddy and I stepped outside of the garage door and immediately we heard the very loud and insistent honking of a gaggle of geese. I couldn’t tell where they were or what direction they were headed, but within a few seconds I knew because they were flying right over my head…in their impressive goosey “v” formation. They said “good morning” and I said good morning and told them thank you for coming by and making me smile…and then Buddy and I went back inside.
I love it when things like that happen. Last year about a thousand geese (no joke! they covered the sky!) flew over my head (not directly, thank goodness, or it might not have been such a positive experience!). I was in the same town where I had taken that choir school bus so many years ago…I was there because that is where my husband’s entire family lives and we were visiting his mom…and I had gone out to take a walk around her neighborhood. And here they came…and kept coming and coming and the noise was AMAZING…and the geese kept switching leaders and formations…it was a display of grand proportion and intricate choreography.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I ADORE my mother in law. She is absolutely precious. She is funny and smart and generous and just all around fantastic. but she doesn’t like geese. See, there is a big pond near her neighborhood where the geese in transit like to go and hang out. And they don’t just hang-out…they loiter and make goosey green messes…and she can’t see them for the amazing creatures they are because she is too close to them. She can only see them for the bother that they are and the noise that they cause and the messes that they make.
Sounds A LOT like how we parents see our own children, no?
We are told by others how wonderful and polite and smart and kind they are…how helpful and easy-going and cooperative they are…and we say, “Are you talking about MY kid? Because, you know I love my kid…and I am so very happy to hear such a glowing report…but that is not how my kid acts at home!”
Well, in all fairness, do we act to others and in front of others like we do at home?
The other day my youngest daughter and I were at a Fall Festival…lots of young children and their parents and this one parent, I am assuming it was the mom and not an aunt or baby sitter, spoke with such venom to their child that I thought I had been mortally poisoned from ten feet away! We got out of earshot and my daughter looked at me with huger eyes than she already has and said, “Did you see that? Oh, my!”
I did see it…and heard it…and what I thought was, if that mom is like that to her child in front of everybody I wonder how she is with that child when they are at home?
Maybe she is exactly the same…no worse. I don’t know, but my limited knowledge of how families work is that many of us have a short leash that we put on ourselves when we go out in public…kind of a self-imposed shock collar or choker . We put it on because heaven forbid somebody that we want to impress from the neighborhood or community or church sees us not acting our best. So why do we feel free to take that short leash/ shock collar/ choker off when we enter the privacy of our own house. Aren’t people there that we want to impress too?
We all have our moments. Trust me, I am not being judgemental. Once upon a time when my first child was a baby I took him to the local park to play. There was a large group of preschool children there with their teacher…there were probably 12-15 3 year olds…waiting in line at the water fountain…and that teacher had enough! she was through! Done! Over it! I thought to myself, “Why do some people who obviously don’t even enjoy children choose to be with children all day?”and then I noticed that one of the children in the class was the son of a friend of mine…so I thought, “do I tell her what a witch her son’s teacher is so that she knows or do I keep my mouth shut so that she doesn’t worry?” What would you do? What a conundrum.
This is what I did. The next time I saw her, I told her I had seen her son at the park with his class and teacher. I asked how he liked “school” and if he liked his teacher. The friend responded that he did like it and he LOVED his teacher. I was amazed. She went on in gushing praise of this woman…the same one who my first impression of had been how evil she was and what a terrible teacher she was… my judgement based on witnessing her for about one minute. Was that fair? Obviously it wasn’t…and then as fate would have it I taught pre-school for several years. I don’t think that any parent could have watched me and thought I was evil or terrible…but I absolutely had days that were better than others… and some moments I had definitely had enough. (think: tiny 3-year-old whose momma sent her to school in panties everyday even thought she was not remotely potty trained…or mischievous 3-year-old whose momma dressed her in hand-made smocked dresses everyday but didn’t want her to get dirty on the playground…or glue-y…or washable Crayola-y…ugh!)
My point is this, why was I so quick to judge that mother at the festival and that teacher at the playground? Why is it our nature to see the goose poop and our children’s faults instead of seeing them and watching them from eyes that are not so close that we cannot see clearly. They are marvelous miracles and we miss that too often.
Is it projection? It it pointing our finger at someone else’s short-comings to distract ourselves from our own. As my sister says, when someone is pointing a finger…three fingers are pointing BACK right at them. True that.
I said yesterday that I was going to talk about how “doing” has nothing to do with Eternal Life. So what does? might I suggest that the very first thing to do…right now…is take an honest inventory of what it is that we “do” to impress others…of the people who probably won’t even be around several years from now. I like the quote, “The only person I can try to be better than is the person I was yesterday.” True that too.
Isn’t it true that we look down on people and notice their flaws because we want to be better than someone…or if it is our children, we don’t accept their weaknesses because they are “mini -me’s” and their less than perfect behavior reflects badly on us? If we could take ME out of the equation…or at least out of the center of the picture, then we might begin to start the process of seeing that looking outward…trying to impress or judging others is a diversion. Why don’t we want to “soul-search? Why is that so scary? Are we afraid to find what is…or isn’t there? No amount of ANYTHING – food, booze, drugs, friends, toys, money, good deeds, status, power, – NOTHING we DO or acquire will fill us up. We all have a place within that is reserved for only One thing. Everything else that we DO might temporarily make us forget or distract. Only One thing can make us whole. Only One. And it isn’t a secret. It is a choice. It isn’t a mystery…it isn’t difficult…it is the most simple thing we can do – because we were made to be in union with our Creator. His presence within us is the piece of the puzzle that finishes His perfect picture.
A few days ago I wrote the words of a worship song written by song leaders at my church. I will write them again for you to use as a prayer if you would like. I hope you will.
“Come like you promised. I am desperate to see Your face. Show me Your presence everyday. I will lift the name of Jesus high. I will live my life for Him. There is none who’s loved me greater. Come Holy Spirit. Walk beside me, unveil my eyes. show me Your power. Search my heart now, and breathe new life. Sing, let it ring, for the glory of the king.” John Larson and Nicole McLean. The song is called “Lift the Name”. My church is called Church of the Highlands. I look up things on-line all day everyday. Look this worship music up. Check it out. I posted the song “Place of Freedom” on my face-book page this morning. Take a minute and just listen. Please, let’s not keep doing what we always do. Let’s Stop. Breath. Listen. Even if you have asked before, we can always recommit…we can always ask God to fill that place that feels hollow. It isn’t just a choice one time. It is a choice everyday.
“Fill my cup, Lord. I lift it up, Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of Heaven feed me til I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.” Amen and Peace.