This month I’ve started a process of writing notes to my shy self on Instagram, so that in the times when I forget who I am or why it matters for me to live this life, I can find reminders that made sense to me before, so hopefully they’ll make sense to me in the moments when I need them. This is one I wrote yesterday that was inspired from an interview I saw with writer, Bri McKoy.
As someone who needs daily reminders that it is a gift to offer yourself to the world, I am so glad to be able to live life with my daughters who freely give me every day the gift of themselves. I get to see them offer themselves to me without fear, in the comfort of our home where it’s okay to be imperfect. They teach me what is true about offering myself to the world around me. These are four lessons I’ve been learning from them this month.
“Bragging” can bring joy.
Opposite to what I tell myself when I’m trying so hard to “filter” my own actions, (hopefully someone out there can relate) ‘bragging’ can bring joy. I say that based on my daughter’s ecstatic, “Mommy, I got Peppa!!” after she was gifted a Peppa Pig toy this past month. She loves all things Peppa Pig and being given a new Peppa toy she was brimming over with excitement and it was every bit delightful to see her reaction. The look on her face when she opened it that delighted the room, the way she grabbed my hand and pulled me across the house so she could show me every bit of it, it was pure joy.
It stood out to me because when I get the notion to do anything like that, I tell myself that that would be ‘bragging,’ so normally I resist the urge to explode with excitement like my daughter did. And perhaps I’m missing out on an important way to offer the gift of myself to the world. Of course bragging is a sin, but I think most of my life I’ve been calling something ‘bragging’ when it’s not really bragging at all. It’s just giving the world this gift – the gift of experiencing along with you the joy you find in life.
We are people who delight in being recognized and responded to and that’s okay.
This month, Liesel has been more and more fascinated with the idea of being recognized and responded to. One day this month, she was screaming and when I looked her in the face and screamed back she was beyond excited. We made a game of it for a good fifteen minutes and she thought it was hysterical. Then again, in the car one day she did a funny little jig with her feet and Amayah couldn’t stand how funny it looked and just blew up giggling. So, of course, Liesel was so proud, and she did the same little jig for the entirety of that car ride. Even after Amayah was too tired to laugh anymore, Liesel kept trying to get her attention.
We are people who love to be recognized. We love when others find joy in what we can offer. Often I criticize my own desires to be recognized and responded to believing that they are all desires based in pride. But then when I look at my baby daughter’s desire for the same things, it doesn’t look like pride to me at all. She’s finding joy in her ability to bring someone else joy. Certainly, pride can disguise itself in the midst of those desires and certainly pride is a sin, but I dare not be too careful. It might just be better to boldly try to bring someone else joy through my talents and abilities and risk the struggle with pride along the way, than to shy away from offering myself because I’m afraid it’s too similar to pride. I know it makes me so happy when Liesel is bold in trying to bring us joy.
Expressing my dislike can be a gift.
Sometimes Amayah says something that can really make a person feel down, but the thing is she’s honest. And because we all know she’s honest, the times when she offers a compliment or a hug or a simple “I Love you,” we don’t question whether she is sincere. That stuff carries so much weight coming from a child. This month we have had moments when she told me she didn’t want me and sometimes it breaks my heart. But the times when she wants to share her ice cream with me, the times she expresses her appreciation to me for cleaning ‘her house,’ the times when she asks me to cuddle with her, the times when she pulls my face into hers and tells me she loves me, those gifts are so very beautiful because I know my daughter is honest about how she feels about me. It’s because the truth hurts, that it can give the most beautiful love as well.
That’s a challenge to live out and maybe I shouldn’t be as blunt as my daughter, but I need to know that it’s important for me to express my dislike and my criticism because without them my compliments may just fall on deaf ears.
Give love and do the next thing.
In the past month, Liesel has learned how to give kisses and her hugs have become more clearly pronounced and intentional. And I’ve noticed this week her affection that can be so contrasting to mine. Sometimes she crawls up to me to give me a hug and turns right around to climb back down and crawl off to the next thing. Sometimes her hugs are quick like that, then sometimes she’ll put her head on my shoulder and hold tight to me for a good couple minutes.
Both kinds of hugs are a delight to me.
There’s something beautiful in her ability to give the hug she needed to and move on with life. In those moments, she doesn’t have to wait to see how I responded to her hug. She just knows she gave it and she’s ready for the next thing. When I see her do that I want to be like her, to give love with a freedom. She teaches me to give the love I want to give and carry myself into the next thing focused on what is in front of me. Because when love is given freely I can move into life free from worry over the effects of the love I just gave.
I hope that these moments in my daughter’s lives are a blessing to you like they are to me. I have four ways to think about how I can offer myself to the world, four ways to think about what it means to be like a child. May we offer ourselves like children today.
“Jesus never tells children to grow up, but he often tell adults to become like little children.” -Wess Stafford
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said,“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4
Being told to be childlike is a gift to be free, and lest I forget that and feel overwhelmed and pressured to be perfectly childlike, this beautiful quote from Lysa Terkeurst that was posted this morning @proverbs31ministries. As someone who struggles with being shy and afraid that my daily choices won’t be just right, these thoughts have been treasured this morning.