I’m Thankful for the Bruises

Any way you look at it, I would be described as an overprotective parent.  When my first child was born, I would cringe every time he would get a scrape, bump, or bruise thinking it labeled me as a neglectful parent. 

By the time our second child arrived I was a little more relaxed, having been reassured by the pediatrician with our first child that toddlers who are healthy and growing correctly will have bruises up and down their legs, the result of being allowed to explore and enjoy their childhood. 

After having suffered a miscarriage and then being blessed with yet another child, I was again a Nervous Nellie, afraid that this child would die an untimely death due to some freak accident before the second birthday.  Having celebrated that milestone recently, I again started to calm down some regarding injuries and death.

This past week our middle child got hurt at school.  Once again, Nervous Nellie tried to rear her ugly head, fully ready to dress each of my children, head to toe, in Cottonelle bath tissue as demonstrated in that cute commercial several years ago. 

I was brought back to reality quite quickly when I realized that instead of being upset, I am truly thankful that my children are happy and healthy, in every sense of the word; kids who have the capability to get hurt.  The bruises they receive are a result of having the ability to use their legs, arms, hands, and feet in play – exploring, testing their boundaries, and sometimes are a direct result of not using their brain to its full potential.

With this new mindset, I am actually preparing for more injuries in the future, proving that my children will continue to grow, explore, and thrive in the world instead of being locked away in our house, safe from all danger but also stilted from reaching their full potential. 

So, this weekend, I challenge your family to go out together; Explore, have fun, be creative, and maybe, just maybe, earn a few bruises of your own.  You might be glad you did.

Take It To The Next Level

How many times in life do you strive for perfection and continually fall short, only to give up altogether?  If you are anything like me, eating healthy and exercising always begins again every Monday.  I vow that I will yell less, hug more, work less, play more – only to quit because I am not living up to what I feel I should not only attain, but maintain.

 A great friend of mine told me this saying: “Take it to the NEXT level,” and I think it’s perfect.  It really made me stop and think.  The idea is not to attain perfection; the idea is to only bring it up one notch, which in all honesty, who can’t achieve that? 

 Eating would look like chewing on a smaller portion instead of inhaling seconds and thirds and fourths.  With exercising, that might mean instead of moving my body three days a week I strive for four, or instead of 20 minutes, I aim for 25. 

 For my marriage, that might mean tackling a household chore that my husband hates, or making his favorite dessert, or offering to run errands (with the kids) so he can have the house to himself. 

 With my kids, it could look like spending 10 extra minutes really listening to them or taking an extra 5 minutes in the morning to tuck a special note in their lunchbox.  Maybe it is snuggling together, reading a favorite story, or coloring while watching a family friendly TV show. 

 It is going to look different for every single person, but for me, it frees me up from trying to be perfect and instead motivates me to work toward being my best.  Putting on makeup even if I am just staying home for the day, drinking that extra glass of water instead of a whole pot of coffee, and the list goes on.

 And who knows – it might be contagious.  When I stop expecting unrealistic expectations from myself, maybe I will stop expecting that from my family too and they in turn will feel relaxed enough to personalize their choices, and “take it to the NEXT level” for themselves.

Give or Allow?

Quite a few of my friends lately have been going through some really rough times.  I mean, real, gut-wrenching, ‘don’t want to get out of bed’ struggles. 

 I overheard someone tell one of them, “God does not give you more than you can handle.”  Even though that message was meant to encourage, I personally could not really agree with that statement, and here is why.  That implies that God is the one giving us the bad times, the hardships, the pain; and the God that I know and have come to believe in does not do that. 

 Instead, I like to think in terms of this sentence, “God does not allow more than we can handle.”  That statement conjures up an image of God and Satan fighting head to head; Satan and his cronies being the ones that are trying to make life miserable and God only allowing them to go so far before He steps in and says, “Enough is enough.”

 Another way to look at it would be seeing the picture of loving parents who willingly allow their child to suffer natural consequences of the sinful world, either through a mistake their child made himself or because of someone else’s mistake.  The loving parent stays in the background, watching, monitoring; waiting for the child to cry out, “Help me” before stepping in.  Does this mean the parents do not love their child?  No, just the opposite.  The parents love the child so much that they are willing to allow a little bit (or a lot) of hurt to help the child grow into the mature, responsible, independent person that child needs to become in order to reach his full potential. 

 Does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  Yes, that is what free will is all about (which is a topic for another day).  Do I believe that God purposefully gives people hard times, pain, and suffering?  No, that belongs to sin and the Bible states very clearly that God hates sin and all that sin represents. 

 Having said that, will my friends’ lives be free from the pain they are suffering right now by saying “God does not allow more than we can handle?” instead of “God does not give more than we can handle?”  No, not really.  Their circumstances will not change overnight.  However, instead of picturing a God who is purposefully causing pain as comes to my mind with the wording in the second sentence, I instead picture God as a loving father, keeping the enemy from completely destroying my friends’ lives (or mine) when reading the first sentence.  I picture God protecting, sheltering, and only allowing so much; enough to help them (or me) grow and reach their potential instead of being completely destroyed by the enemy who is trying to do just that.   

 I hope this encourages not only my friends who are going through some rough times, but anyone else reading this who needs extra hope today.  God is not the enemy; He is the One keeping us from being completely destroyed when the bad times inevitably come. 

 

TGIFriday

Here’s to new journey between friends.  Stay tuned for the first blog, coming early next week.

Until then, enjoy some quality time with family this weekend and then we’ll sit down and chat.