shifting to His perspective

Posted: July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

I am at a baby shower.  We are given a spool of ribbon and told, “Take as much as you think you will need.”  No further explanation is offered. 

I watch the spool go around the room.  Some take yards of ribbon.  Some take inches.  Some press for an explanation, but don’t get one.  It seems like I’ve played this game before, but for the life of me I cannot remember whether a long piece or a short piece is the best choice, because I cannot remember what the heck we are going to do with it! 

I am tempted to take half an inch, but then I’m feeling bold.  Instead, I take 2 full arms’ lengths of it.  Whatever is coming, I’ve got a lot of ribbon!

Then:  the instructions.  We will go around the circle.  When it is your turn, introduce yourself.  Tell how you know the mom-to-be.  And wrap the ribbon around your hand one time for each bit of advice you give the mom.  Instantly a couple of girls start trying to get the scissors, to re-size their long ribbon.  Lots of laughter. 

I am not at the beginning of the circle.  As I listen, lots of things I would have said, get said by someone else.  My good ideas are getting all used up!  What will I say?

The thing is, I’m not crazy about giving advice on anything I’m not sure about.  For instance, I basically won’t give out marriage advice almost at all.  My reason?  I have never yet effectively made a marriage work.  So when people ask for that kind of advice, I generally direct them toward ladies who ARE making it work, and otherwise just make myself available to listen and pray a lot. 

One would think I might be pretty certain, when it comes to parenting advice.  After all, I have two kids who are stellar, interesting, fun, funny people of integrity, creativity, and intelligence and who love and – cooler yet – LIKE me.  I have a passel of former daycare kids who still are friendly and glad to see me, when we encounter one another…some of them are even coming to my wedding next month.  I still interact with some of the kids I worked with in the schools, and my warmth toward them is not a one-sided thing.  My nieces all treat me with ways that do not shout, “Look out, here comes the mean/dysfunctional one!” 

But I haven’t been all that confident.  Sure, my kids are great, but I’ve lived long enough to understand that a lot of things I took credit for when my kids were little…was just the blessing of good-natured kids.  I was not as amazing as I once suspected I was.  Furthermore, I feel like I was pretty crabby and kind of mean (or…sometimes there was no “kind of” to it!) with the daycare kids. I could have – should have – done better.  Also, when I was working in the schools, my motivations were this funky mix – some of it was for sure a God-calling and He used me greatly…and some of it was just that I was a hot mess codependent messiah-complex fool, stumbling through and, shall we say, doing it highly imperfectly.

One of the gifts of living longer and seeing more clearly is that I can look back and see so many ways that I fell short.  Places I caused pain.  Places I was selfish or short-sighted.  Lots of lazy places.  Quite often, I was, plain and simple, A JERK.  And that’s what I have tended to focus on, when I think about Karen’s Parenting Abilities.  So people praise me up one side and down the other, and I think oh, you’re very nice, but you’re leaving out all the crappy parts.  I’m not that wonderful. 

Believe it or not, that kind of stuff rolls through my head, even when I’m just playing a party game on a sunny afternoon.  I want to get my hands on those scissors and cut my ribbon down to a quarter of an inch. 

But hey, play with the hand you are dealt, eh?  And there must be a REASON I was so filled with boldness and adventure as I cut such a long length!  I rack my brain and I come up with something.  And…something else.  And…hey!  There’s another good one, too! 

So by the time my turn rolls around, I have some stuff to share, and if I talk slow and wrap fast, it all matches up fine.  I listen to myself as I talk.   I am surprised.  Hey!  I have some good advice to offer, after all! 

You can believe this or not, but I feel sure:  that was a nice little God-appointment in my life.  I have no doubt at all that He was tired of me focusing in on the condemning voice – a voice that is most assuredly NOT His – that so reliably repeats the news that all I’ve ever done is mess up, and I need to sit down and shut up.  It’s not really true, that news.  Yeah, I’ve made my fair share – probably MORE than my fair share – of mistakes.  Some of them have been made with the very best of intentions.  Some of them were more just straight out selfishness or foolishness. 

But amongst the many mistakes, I also did a whole lot right.  I didn’t single-handedly form my kids into the wonderful people they are…but I did get to play a part.  All those kids from daycare and from the schools…they aren’t just being polite when I get big hugs and grins and old stories retold.  We had a lot of fun.  We learned together. We grew together.  A lot of good came, even despite the mistakes.  Maybe sometimes BECAUSE of the mistakes. 

Praise His name, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever.  Today, I am grateful that He has taken the time to re-shift my view on that part of my past.  I’ve decided to agree with Him. 

I’d be silly – and stubborn – not to. 


(Also, speaking of silliness…there is a ridiculous bit over at the naked place today.  Skip it if you hate stupid humor!  You’ve been warned!) 

  1. Thanks for sharing Karen. I identify, very encouraging. Felt good to read this at the end of a busy day when I’m feeling maxed and assessing how I did in the relational department… Your insight and candor are liberating. Thanks again. Now I can’t resist checking out the ‘naked place’, with all the silly humor you mentioned… 🙂

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