Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘lessons’

The Rose

“Unforgiveness is a slow-acting, painful poison that we drink, in the vain hope that our enemy will perish.”

A young lady found herself wandering bare foot and carefree through a beautiful garden. It was well kept, neatly maintained. Predictable. As she ambled down the well manicured garden paths, idly contemplating each twist and turn that lay ahead, she enjoyed the comfort of knowing that nothing in that beautiful space could hurt her or take her by surprise.

Her favourite part of the garden was undoubtedly the roses. The colours lined up neatly, in a breathtaking gradient from the deepest reds – so dark they almost looked black – past delicious ice-cream pinks, and ending neatly in the crispest white she’d ever seen.

She dutifully stopped to smell each and every bloom. How could she resist? They all seemed to hold their own secret scent, meant for her dainty nose alone.

we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

we can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses

However, she hadn’t gone far when her amble was brought up short with a piercing stab of pain. She’d stepped on a thorn, and it had lodged itself deeply in the soft skin where her toes met her foot.

She cried out in agony and limped awkwardly back to the house to see what could be done. Her suffering was severe. It wasn’t just the physical pain of having a barb lodged inside her. She felt betrayed. Her beautiful, safe afternoon had been shattered, and she wasn’t sure she’d ever have the courage to walk through that garden barefoot again. How could she be sure there wasn’t another concealed prickle out there, waiting to ensnare her, to hobble her?

When she found help, they tried to pull the spike out of her foot, but to their surprise, she resisted.

“This is MY thorn,” she retorted. “It’s my pain, and I will choose when, how and IF I let it go. Until then, that thorn is staying just where it is. I want to make sure that whenever I see that stupid, ugly rose garden, it knows what it did to me – how it’s ruined my life!”

And so it was that every day, this stubborn, crippled young woman would hobble out to the garden (well shod!) and admire all the lovely flowers that grew there, and the orderly paths arranged around them. But she turned her head, and raised her nose in the air, and (sniffing timorously as she held back the tears over what she had lost) she would stalk past the roses and stoically avoid their gaze, allowing them just enough view of her to see the damage they had done.

The roses, for their part, gave out their beautiful scent, and filled the garden with their sumptuous colours, and rustled among themselves as the days cooled into Autumn. They spared no thought for our invalid.

As Spring bloomed into pulsing Summer, then cooled into the mellow sleepiness of Fall, still our young protagonist allowed no one to remove the shrapnel she wore in her foot, a badge of honour announcing the roses’ betrayal to any who would listen. Finally, however, the thorn began to fester. Her foot swelled up. The pain was excruciating. The smell was unbearable, and the foot’s dewy fresh tint faded to sickly green.

At last she no longer had a choice. It was time to lose her leg, or lose her life. The surgery was painful, and the recovery time seemed interminable. Her crippled state ceased to be a personal choice, a mark of pride worn to signify a long-held grudge. Now it was permanent, as were the crutches she needed to visit her garden.

Notwithstanding, she bravely soldiered on, visiting the flowers, breathing in their heady scent. She looked longingly at the rose garden, missing the pleasure these blooms had once given her. Even now, however, with one foot securely locked in a boot up to her knees, and the other foot gone altogether, she still lacked the confidence to face her old enemies and admire their loveliness.

Then she saw it. A thorn detached itself lazily from its rosy branch and sidled to the floor, clearly waiting for an unwary foot to chance upon it. She watched in anticipation to see what the roses would do. Surely they would get rid of the thorn? Surely, after all her suffering, they’d realise what they’d done, and make amends? Surely!

But the roses kept doing what roses do. They didn’t care. They didn’t know. They couldn’t change. That’s how it is with roses.

Lesson #15: Expectations vs expectancy

When we live a life filled with expectations, we create a pressure cookie for disappointment.

I know that this statement is a broad generalisation and not always true. For instance, if we expect nothing from ourselves, we’ll achieve it. Not great. We need to set reasonable expectations for ourselves. Furthermore, if we expect nothing from those that matter to us, we can make them feel worthless and insignificant – the last thing we ever want!

My problem was (and still is, to some extent), expecting too much. I expect myself to achieve too much, and fail hopelessly every time. This disappoints me and leads me to feel that, since every effort is an inevitable failure, I shouldn’t try at all.

I expect myself to not have to do as much as I do have to do. I feel that I should only have to do half of everything that needs to be done, and that I should be able to have some “me” time. Since that’s not really practical or reasonable right now, I get frustrated and start to “steal” time from other place. I spend a few more minutes on Facebook than I can reasonably justify for work. I spend a few more minutes cloistered in the bathroom, reading my book. I take longer in the bath and put off doing the dishes. After a week of this, I have a heap of dishes, a laundry FULL of dirty clothes, and the screaming, wooshing sound of deadlines flying by. I also have a pair of grumpy, understimulated children and a bewildered husband.

I expect my husband to love me the way that I love him. I’ve spoken in the past about Love Languages, and while I know that the way he receives and shows love is not the same as mine, I expect it to be. I expect him to process stress the way that I do (find the problem and fix it at any cost), not the way he does (go to bed till the fit passes). I become disappointed in what I see as his lack of delivery, and frustrated by his lack of action.

I expect my children to magically achieve their potential now that I a) home educate and, b) have overhauled their diets. They should instantly be free of head aches, mood swings, concentration challenges and sore tummies. Somehow all of this should also address their low muscle tone and make them strong. When they aren’t instantly perfect, or when they have one of those days – you know the ones, where a single English worksheet takes four hours! – I become despondent and doubt my decision to home educate. In fact, I doubt all my life choices and dissolve into an unproductive puddle.

It is true that I’m an extremist, and that should be borne in mind.

However, the gift of expectancy breathes life into our family.

When I face the new day with expectancy, excited about the possibility of achieving my Three Important Tasks for the day, eagerly anticipating my morning run or pilates session, I can’t be disappointed. The anticipation adds to the joy of the action itself, and makes the day a landscape punctuated by eager expectation and fulfilled goals. In a nutshell: satisfaction.

When I enjoy Papa Bear’s differentness and realise that I can learn so much from his view of life and approach to challenges, each day becomes a classroom, or better yet, an adventure, a mystery waiting to be uncovered. What will I learn today? What will I become? How will my perspective change and grow, making me a better person? It becomes almost impossible to stay in bed when faced with a whole day where I can meet my beloved’s needs, help him to achieve his potential, and learn about him and from him along the way.

When I see each moment with my children as a moment for all of us to learn, when I realise that whatever I say is absorbed into their growing self awareness like water into a sponge, when I understand that English and Maths serve a limited purpose and are not the final point of lifelong learning, I can seize each opportunity, each window into my children’s souls, capitalise on it, and help them become the best that they can be. I can teach them balance, self-discipline, acceptance, generosity, hard work, sensitivity, strength and so much more. I can comfort them when the work is hard, and rejoice with them when they master it. It’s a journey, with maturity as the end product, not a university degree.

This lesson is far from over, but writing it down helps to remind me of these truths and fills me with awe at God’s grace and mercy that He would take the time to teach these truths to a hard heart like mine. I wondered how a Christian could truly know the joy of the Lord, and here I see it so clearly. Stop expecting things to be different and start anticipating the joy of what already is.

Hebrews 13:5 “Be content with such things as you have.”

Lesson #14: Feelings Follow Faith

“When we walk with the Lord,
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way.

While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
But to trust and obey.”

When we step out in faith and obey the instructions we receive from God – from His Word, prayer, His people and circumstances – He blesses us by changing our hearts to match the Truth revealed in His Word.

I did not know that.

I have spent years and years feeling guilty about my lack of faith. I didn’t feel like I could or wanted to do the thing asked of me. Whether it was serving in my local church, obeying my husband, reaching out to a friend in need, honouring my parents, or any of a host of instructions so clearly laid out in God’s Word. And because I didn’t feel it, I wouldn’t do it. I’d think it would be hypocritical – an “act”, if you will.

Recently, with the help of a wise friend, I took a leap of faith and did as I was told. Sounds simple, but in reality it can be hard for to do. I was still convinced I would be a hypocrite and I wondered if I would ever get the feeling that would motivate me to do good works. I felt guilty about not feeling motivated, and that led to a kind of low-grade despondency and a lack of joy.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. After taking that step of faith, performing the righteous “act” required of me, I was amazed to find that my heart followed suit! Within a very short time, I actually felt what I should have felt. Resentment, bitterness. anger, malic, unforgiveness … they all dissolved away. My devotions became easier, my joy soared.

What an amazing gift from our gracious Lord, who works in our hearts both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13)

Lesson# 7: More on attitudes

The day before yesterday I posted about praising our children and ways to do it that will build them up rather than (inadvertently) leave them worse off than before. It’s important not to waste our efforts where our children are concerned, letting them feel and believe that well-deserved praise, exhortation and encouragement is meaningless and empty.

Deerfeet, whose beautiful blog often inspires me in my home education journey, posted a link to a post of hers on a similar subject, which really spoke to me. You can read the full post here (it’s worth the trip over). I want to highlight two bits that really spoke to me:

“Dweck has conducted studies with hundreds of students, mostly early adolescents, in which experimenters gave the subjects a set of difficult problems from an IQ test.  Afterward, some of the young people were praised for their ability: “You must be smart at this.”  Others were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”  The kids who were complimented on their intelligence were more likely to turn down the opportunity to do a challenging new task that they could learn from.  ”They didn’t want to do anything that could expose their deficiencies and call into question their talent,” Dweck says.  Ninety percent of the kids who were praised for their hard work, however, were eager to take on the demanding new exercise.”

‘The Roar of the Tiger Mom’ By Annie Murphy Paul
TIME Jan 31, 2011

I read this TIME article last year and found it very thought-provoking at the time. I think I even modified my behavious slightly as a result, although it wasn’t a great time for us and things got, well, blurry.

Then there was this:

“That’s right,” agreed Grandma.  ”Shall I tell you something else that’s good?  God is pleased by the things we do for him out of love.  We may think some of our actions, or deeds, aren’t improtant, but they’re special to God because he notices the love you put into them.  Giving a helping hand, a friendly smile, or an encouraging word is just as important to God as any other job.”

from The One Year Book of Family Devotions.  Vol. 2

I am reminded that the attitudes in our family, particularly unconditional love, gratitude and a good work ethic, could all do with some focused prayer and Bible Study this week.

(I know I said two things spoke to me. I meant three.):

“Some people may say that these are ‘little’ things.  Maybe they are.  But we must not wait for a chance to do great things.  We must begin with little deeds of love.”

‘Deeds of Kindness’  Adp from ‘McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader’

Lesson #2: One thing at a time.

This Lesson is really a work in progress. It has a loose link to a Lesson on Honesty, but that’s a subject for another post. Or maybe not. What it boils down to is that I have a problem: I over-commit. I estimate that a thing will take less time to do than it will, and I imagine that I have more time available for doing it than I do. Then I try to move heaven and earth to achieve what I have committed to, and I have about a fifty-fifty success rate. Sometimes less.

I don’t like to say “I can’t“. There are lots of reasons for this and it is the subject of yet another Lesson. Two Lessons, in fact, since Rest is another.

To compensate, I try to do many things at once. I imagine that I will achieve all that I set out to do if I set out to do all that I have committed to do. Instead, what happens is that I drop all the balls. I end up with severe stress paralysis and Waste Time. I lose sleep and become ill. And I fret.

Last minute panic. Story of my life.

Last minute panic. Story of my life.

So this Lesson is about taking things one step at a time. Every time I get that stomach-sinking “oh-no-I’ve-dropped-another-ball” feeling, I take a deep breath, pray to God to work it out somehow, and tackle the task at hand. I try to set reasonable goals for each day, and then deal with them one-at-a-time, in order of priority.

It takes Planning and Preparation, and I often skip that step because I’m so busy. But without that crucial step, I end up staring blankly in panic-stricken dread at my overwhelming little computer monitor, and snap at the girls for needing my attention.

Not great.

Many years ago I worked for a Big Corporate in a Big City. It was a great job which I loved at the time and which, in retrospect, I appreciate now more than ever. We went on a lot of training, and one course was titled, “Critical Chain Theory”. It was a workshop to demonstrate that people get more done individually and corporately if they focus on one task from start to finish, rather than on many tasks at once. Powerful stuff. The presenter went on to explain so-called “Student Syndrome”. Apparently we find the tasks on our plate lack challenge, so we create an artificial challenge by leaving things to the last minute, so that the stress of missing the deadline creates a substitute for the technical challenge we crave. He was kind enough to say that this affliction was suffered most by the Highly Gifted. Aw. I don’t know about that but I do know I’m a chronic sufferer, and I wish my insurance would recognise and cover the ailment!

This Lesson really IS a work in progress, but it is also the reason I’m heading for bed now, instead of pushing through to try and cling to the tail end of the deadline that just whizzed by my right ear, taking a fraction of fine, downy ear-fluff with it!

Good night!

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