I was on vacation this past week, it was a lovely space and time. We walked the pristine white beach, canoed in a black water river, and rode bikes on narrow wooded pathways. Lots of adventure!

One of the evenings there we went on a night bike ride. Thankfully our lead bikers had lights to guide the way because it was dark, stars and moon were not enough to light these paths to my liking..I’m sort of a scaredy cats in some ways.

Scared of spider webs wrapping around me as I speed through

Scared of small animals running across and turning back to glare at me

Scared of the feeling of being lost in the darkness

Yea, I’m a bonafide scaredy cat in lots of ways, but it doesn’t keep me from getting on the bike and taking a night ride anyway! Not anymore!! 

At one point during the ride I felt anxiety rise up as paths narrowed and the woods wrapped tight around me…eyes darting looking into the darkness for creepy crawlers and boogey men, threatening to topple me off the bike and propel me to the ground.  During this panicky moment I had this clear thought…where my eyes look, everything else follows.

 

I was reminded of this same feeling and experience on the ski slopes in New Mexico. When my eyes focused on the trees outlining the edge of the cliff or the drop over the side of the cliff..my skis naturally and uncontrollably, and frankly terrifyingly, move toward disaster.

The same experience was happening on the bike path…focus on the trees outline, the narrowing of the path, the drop of the small bridge created not only anxiety but impending doom that this very thing I feared would happen.

Interesting stuff…pondering in the dark, risking my life, (not really),

I was aware of the power of the eyes and where we look dictates the outcome.

 

Where are you looking?

at the danger, the disaster, the denial, the destruction, the devastation, the diabolical…

Are you letting it control your next move?

Are you letting it dictate where you are going?

Are you letting it drive your behavior?

Are you letting it keep you isolated, paralyzed, hidden, playing small?

Are you letting it rule over you?

Are you letting it win?

 

Know this…the threat is real!  It is possible that when you move things will shift but what if you focused on the path in front of you instead, focused on your feet and where they are headed instead of where you are scared they might go. 

Where are you looking?

It’s a good question to ask…and once you figure it out…adjust your vision!

So let me tell you a story about this….Tuesday night she came home determined to learn these spelling words for Wednesday because her teacher told her if you got them all right on Wednesday then you didn’t have to take the test on Friday. So she was determined. After having studied “all day” I called them out to her for the first time. She got a little over half right…and then came big old tears. When she cries she has the biggest most perfectly, beautiful teardrops that just splatter when they fall. Her eyes were a blur with salty water drops. She’s very hard on herself – demands perfection from herself which provided the perfect moment for a serious conversation to her heart.

“Did you do your best? Just now taking this ‘test’ the first time did you do your best?”  “That is all we ever want from you, YOUR best…if it means you make an A, a C or an F – if you did your best it doesn’t matter to me what your grade is.  What’s important is your heart, your character – Are you kind? Do you love people well? Are you generous? Do you see people? That’s what matters to us!”

We continued to practice and by the third round she had spelled them all correctly and was quite proud of herself. One more practice round in the morning before schools and she was ready for the test – hence the A+

It was a great victory for her and I believe an even bigger victory for me!

I haven’t always parented this way and my three oldest have suffered as a result of it. I went to bed a little teary and heartsick myself.

When they were little we attended Westminster Christian Academy and then moved to Lafayette Christian Academy – lots of pressure to perform. Schools demand our best – we are rewarded with gold stars and good grades and performance is valued. It can be a ‘dog eat dog’ world as children compare themselves to one another in the system that schools have established and decided what is considered “good”.

Lots of pressure!

And my need to perform was high when my oldest were little – I didn’t know any better – I was in the system. Their performance was a reflection of my “good” parenting!

Pressure!!

Being able to sit across from my youngest and speak the truth about what life has taught me about school, in recent, years was the sweetest. We have homeschooled for the last seven years in a what is know as a classical education. One of my favorite things about the program we have been involved with is that I have learned to celebrate what my children have learned not what they don’t know.

When my third oldest started the program we were at a disadvantage because started half way through the year so I was worried that we would be behind in Latin and her very wise teacher told me, “We are going to celebrate that she has learned half a year of Latin, half a year of Latin material that she didn’t know before and we are not going to worry about what she hasn’t learned yet.”

 

And thus started my journey of learning to celebrate what we learn along the way.

I think sometimes as parents we focus on the wrong things. The truth from this perspective is that the first time around with Evyn’s spelling list she actually knew 13 of the 20 new words she had been given.

Now that’s worthy of celebration!

She knew 13 new words not that she didn’t know 7 of them.

It was a sweet conversation and I am happy to know what I know now to parent her differently. As I said earlier I went to bed teary because I recognized the damage that the performance mindset had on my older kids.

I called each one of them the next morning to share this story with them and to apologize for inflicting on them

the need to perform,

the need to do better because their good enough wasn’t enough,

the need to fold under the pressure being pushed upon all of us.

And they are so gracious with their once young and dumb mom who was doing what she thought was right but didn’t have a clue.

I’m so thankful for grace and the fact that we can learn do things differently and the gift of apologizing for the mistakes we have made in the past in our ignorance.

 

So stop judging yourself, may you be safe from your own judgement and I ask you, just like I asked my youngest, “Are you doing your best right now in this moment?”

If you are not then choose to step into your best
But
If you are then know this – your best is ENOUGH!

Marc and I took our littlest to the Chris Tomlin concert this past week. Some friends gifted us with tickets and what a gift!  The concert was amazing, Kim Walker-Smith was on stage all night, she’s kind of like one of my faves!  Evyn loved and stayed postured- hands lifted most of the night – it was the sweetest watching her worship.

This was my first delight!

My second was a young lady sitting a row in front of us. She was so fun!  Probably around 16 years or so and she had the best time and I had the best time watching her. She danced and sang and was a party all by herself.  Coincidentally, she wasn’t by herself, she was sitting with about four or five other girls her age, smack dab in the middle of them but she was one of a kind! The other girls stood stiff like boards the entire concert, not a hand lifted, not a single dance move but this stiffness didn’t stop my little fun friend! She nudged and moved and tried to get them to come with her on the ride she was on but none of them would have it, so she rode all by herself!

I fell in love with her!

Her spunk,

Her willingness to be herself regardless of what others thought or did,

Her fun!

I pray she never lose herself – that she never look to the eyes of this world to define her – that she always play and dance and be herself. What a joy it is to see someone be unashamedly herself!  It was such a gift to me!

I couldn’t help myself – when the concert ended I leaned forward, grabbed her shoulders and said, “You are so much fun!  I so enjoyed you! Thank you! Don’t stop being fun because you really are amazing!”

I pray she forever hears my voice whisper that truth into her ear that night. Those days she doubts herself, believes she doesn’t compare, feels less than, silly or unimportant!  I pray that whisper rush back to her ear and she is reminded of how lovely she truly is to those secretly watching!

Sweet girl you are more than enough!!  A delight!!