Practicing Parents

Happy New Year!

~ Christine Gough


Happy New Year!


A clean slate and a fresh start begins today!

We put so much pressure on ourselves to make resolutions and change our bad habits and lazy ways.  Every January 1st, goals are set.  Words of the year are declared.  We push forward into the days ahead, feeling strong and motivated and positive.  And then….the hard news.  The diagnosis.  The unexpected phone call.  The world spins in ways we weren’t planning on.  It feels impossible to hold tight to those intentions.

As I walk through moments of difficulty and sadness with my own boys, the world and its unpredictable ways often feel overwhelming.  They struggle with grasping their own **little**worlds, their friendships, school challenges and family expectations, let alone stomaching what unfolds on the news and in our bigger communities and world.

So to see times of mystery as joy, feels counterintuitive.

To envision the unknown and challenging as worthy of gladness and praise, seems naïve.

How do we move forward amidst it all with joy?  Gladness?  And praise?  We are working on this in our own lives and family these days.  Trying to upend patterns of negativity and irritability and replace our knee jerk reactions with stillness, a calm and an open heart.  We are attempting to ask questions and seek more from each other, rather than assume.

When I heard Brené Brown speak this past fall, she challenged us with a question.  “What is the story you are telling yourself?”  How are we creating narratives for ourselves and for our closest loved ones that are fictional, inaccurate and made up in our own heads?  Do we see the problems of our world and in our day-to-day lives as insurmountable obstacles, believing everyone is out to get us?  How can we instead turn the questions back on ourselves and our children, seeking to see these problems differently?

“No one wants to play with me!”

“He hit me and said he’s not my friend…”

“You love HIM more than ME!”

“I don’t want to be in the family anymore!  You’re a baby RAT, MOM!”

These are just a few of the many words uttered within our walls recently.  I often don’t have advice to share with boys.  Only rage bubbles up.   But I am starting to hear Brené whispering in my ear these days, “What story are you telling yourself?”  The root of these situations is often way different than I surmise and rather than thinking about these problems and challenges as a joyful mystery, I want to run and hide and ignore it.

As we walk into 2016, I am hoping for a year of joyful mystery mixed with a hefty does of contemplation.  Time to sit with these questions.  Opportunities to live with the pain and not run from it.  Wherewithal to probe and ask for more from our boys, rather than escaping from the yelling.  I hope we can all push ourselves to be on each other’s sides, leading with kindness rather than judgment or harshness.  May we re-write the stories we tell ourselves with truth, remembering these words of Paul to the Romans:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around-life—and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention of God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God bring the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it.”

~Romans 12:1-2, 9





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