Harvey's teacher sent a note home earlier this school year saying he was playing way to(o) rough on the playground. She left out the necessary second O and yes, it annoyed me. However, I was more concerned with the unnecessary roughness. So, I asked Harv about it and he was embarrassed. It was not at all shocking to me that he could play rough. If you have not met my second child let me shoot you the facts:
- He's a boy
- ALL BOY
- A loud noise with dirt on it
- If you decide to crank it up a notch, he'll match you stride for stride
- He used to think he could fly
- He doesn't have fear, but he has a lot of feelings
- He grunts more than he speaks
- He's happy most of the time
- He's a great snuggler
- He can play alone for hours (I think this is the precursor to cave time)
When I saw his teacher later I flagged her down and discreetly asked if there was anything specific I should address? She was pervasive with her assurance. He was just playing with some really rough kids, she said. He's a great kid and he's playing with someone new at recess now. Christ (pronounced Chris T) or Krish, I'm not sure which. But even Harvey sort of knows his name. And that's impressive.
The lesson here for me is that sometimes we all play too rough on the playground. The question is whether or not this is a result of defect in our character or a result in our poor choices about who we're surrounding ourselves with. Sometimes it's necessary just to separate ourselves from others whose influences on us are less than stellar. If we choose to surround ourselves with people that build up our character and encourage us toward excellence we will find that we become the very person that we want to be, the opposite is also true. Character is something that rubs off on us. Proverbs warns us over and over of this. Sometimes we can surround ourselves with people that encourage us to be a wallflower. To stop speaking up for ourselves, to ignore our hurts and not to confront those hurting us. That influence can be just as detrimental. And just as ungodly. We are no more supposed to participate in evil than we are to stand idly by while others reign with it.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke
That is not to say we shouldn't be an awesome witness to those who are walking an unrighteous path but like Harvey we have to be aware of where our weaknesses lie. If you're prone to unnecessary roughness don't hang out with the bullies.
"Harvey, stop hanging out with the bullies," mommy says so. I think Jesus would too.
If you're prone to laziness avoid those who are slovenly and unmotivated. If you're prone to throwing a right hook don't go to a fight club. If you're prone to gossip avoid the neighborhood busy-body. Your character isn't strong enough yet. Right now, I'm avoiding those who make too many brownies. Sorry Naomi... ;-)
I find myself feeling like sometimes people are running roughshod over me lately. I have concluded that this isn't always because they aren't being kind sometimes it's because I am in a heightened state of awareness. I do tend to cry a lot more now than I used to and I've lost that thick skin that I only ever mildly possessed.
Within these situations is also the crux of me trying to find my voice. Trying to figure out what I am feeling and thinking and then finding a way to express that which honors me and those to which I'm speaking. I feel like my voice comes out in starts and stops and all fragmented. Half stagnated.
My goal is to hear myself and my true thoughts feelings and emotions and also to be kind and strong. I have felt in the past like I might lose the fight within me and yet I know I have three excellent reasons to soldier on. Some would prefer a more timid version of Shannon, others one that is all hatchets and trailblazing. I'm finding the center of where I and God want me to be. Where I want to be is important, which parts of myself do I most want to develop, which ones do I want to shrink?
Does He want me to move on this? Then I move.
Is this just selfish anger? Then I stop.
What am I really feeling right now? I'm not filtering because people don't like it.
Where do I need to speak?
Is this person honoring me and my children? Then I'll spend time with them. If not, then no.
Previously I would have been so focused on trying to figure out who God wanted me to be that I would've forgotten to honor myself. Now I have learned that my own heart will reflect that to me. I don't have to go searching. My calling in life is clear to become the best version of myself that I can be. The gift in that is that I already know myself better than anyone else, so I know what to pursue. I am a gregarious, outgoing, deep thinking, 51% introvert. I'm great at writing, public speaking and making artsy crafty stuff. I love being a mom, I put a lot of effort into maintaining friendships, I'm funny and flirty. I'm a bit of a smart ass, okay, I'm totally a smart ass. I also get distracted easily, abhor detail crap like paying bills, even though I know how to do it efficiently, hate cleaning houses but I'm pretty good at organizing. There are things I need to develop within myself to be successful in life, like house cleaning. But there are strengths I possess that when I develop those I become a better person, more authentically me.
When I put effort into my writing, I clarify my message. When I clarify my message I give that gift to others, which is what I feel called to do. When I make things I create beauty, beauty makes a difference on a hard day.
There's a common quote often said and misquoted "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." T.H. Thompson and John Watson
When we get a little too rough when one another we miss out on relationships. We set one another on edge; they worry about being honest and genuine around us. I just had someone do this to me today. The left a snarky comment on a public forum that made a mockery of my writing. They were probably joking around and thinking I would laugh. Or they could've been trying to encourage me with their 'playful criticism.'
But we don't have the trust present our relationship for me to handle that from them, nor do I know them well enough to know which it would be. There is no depth present and there's no love lost between us. I've admonished myself already for thinking this person could help me as a writer. For being vulnerable for asking them for help. And I have learned that I need to back away from this already barely existing relationship. Because they wounded me, I'm learning from the wound. Wouldn't we rather people learn love and trust from our interactions from them, rather then learning from the pain we're causing them?
We need to be kind. We need to love one another. We need to think first before we speak. The old adage that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason is true. God gave me ten fingers and they can fly over this keyboard attacking another person as well. But he has also given me wisdom, my brain, my heart and my spirit can be engaged before I publish. Or I can let them fly and shred someone else and hit that orange publish button without a second thought. Maybe even feeling smug satisfaction as I have returned their meanness for meanness. But that is not the way of God.
God desires for us to be honest about the truth of relationships.
God desires for us to be gentle with one another.
God desires for us to respect ourselves and not deny our own voice. That is not his way.
God admonishes us to always seek him first. Don't publish, don't snark, don't confront without talking to him. Don't playfully criticize another, it hurts and it does not help. That is not love. We might think we're being witty, witty is just another word for wounding. So you might not be using a sword to wound but that tiny little switchblade is just is as deadly.
Love others, and yourself, find the balance. And share your toys at recess.