Saturday, February 2, 2013

Setting Me Free

A friend posted this video on his facebook page today, with a caption: You have time for this.

I'm gonna tell you the same thing. Go ahead. Watch it.


As I watched it, I kept thinking about this verse:

"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for our brother. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Here is a boy who has nothing to give, really. He's just a kid. But he has strong arms and legs-- something his brother lacks. He sees his brother sitting on the sidelines, and shares with his brother what little he has to offer. His brother can't give him anything more than a smile in return. And that's enough to keep Conner moving forward.

Would that we could all push ourselves
to the limit for the benefit of another.

But I also watched this as a parent. Not just as a parent who wishes and prays that her sons would stop fighting with and start loving each other. But also as a parent who puts too many limits on her children. I blame those limits on financial constraints and time constraints and single-parent logistical boundaries, but those are just all convenient excuses.  The reality is that I parent by fear. Fear that they'll get hurt. Fear that they'll be disappointed. Fear that I'll invest in an interest only to have them back out. Fear of how their dad will react. Fear of how others might be inconvenienced.

I'm afraid for my kids, because I'm afraid for me. I'm afraid to fly. So, I've clipped their wings.

The Barn Swallows that commandeered our front porch for a season.
When we lived at Fort Bragg, NC, a mama Barn Swallow built a nest up under the eaves of our front porch. It was perfect-- because we could stand on a chair and get a good look at the nest through the window above our front door. Once those eggs hatched, mama wasn't there much. She was busy flying around, collecting food for her chicks. She kept a close eye on the nest, and would squawk for her buddies to help her dive-bomb at our heads if we dared try to use the front door. But she kept busy, flying around, doing her thing. Eventually, the babies got big enough to move around, getting out of the nest and hopping along the ridge of the eave. One day, they started flying. They never went far, and they always came back to the nest to rest. Until they didn't.

It takes three laps around my subdivision to run 2 miles. I've run 5Ks. I've run in a 196 mile relay race. But as I come to the end of that second lap around my neighborhood, I start to panic. Can I do it? What if I fail? I mean, really? What would I lose if I have to walk for a little bit to catch my breath? None of the neighbors even know who I am. They're not going to judge me. If anything, they're judging themselves because that chunky chick down the road is at least trying. 

I know how to eat healthy, but I convince myself that I'm going to screw up eventually. Might as well do it now. And later. And stock up for next week's failures, too.

Where does this monologue come from? This is the girl who, at 17 years old, became a radio news reporter. Who confidently elbowed her way into a television news room at 18. Who stood on a stage at 19 clutching her friend's hand, certain that the emcee was going to call her name and award her the crown. What happened to that confidence? That chutzpah? 


This is what abuse does to a person. 

This girl who, at 20 years old, packed enough clothes for a week and drove 9 hours away from home for a job interview at an advertising agency and never looked back, turned into a girl who stood in Sears for 2 hours trying to decide which cordless phone to buy, which phone would get her in the least trouble. This girl who worked the phones and fax machine to score interviews with major Christian bands, became the girl who stood outside a recently restructured radio station for 20 minutes yesterday, debating whether she should go in and introduce herself to the Program Director and ask if she could e-mail him an air check. I don't want to be that girl anymore. But rather than spread my wings and re-learn the fine art of flying, I'm teaching my tweedles that life is much safer on the ground. Safer, maybe. But hopping around hunting for crumbs is not living.

See, Conner's parents didn't say, "No, buddy, you're too young to do a triathlon for ONE, let alone two." No, they equipped him. They supported him. They let him fly.

What I want, what I really want, in my heart of hearts, is for my boys to soar. I want Talker to be that kid who's a computer programming genius at 13. I want Demolition Man to be a super-star athlete who loves to read. I want Cuddle Bug to be a pint-sized entrepreneur-- to fulfill their dreams, to be those kids who achieve inspirational success at a young age, who take life by the horns and never let go. But they can't do that-- unless I teach them.

And the best way to teach them, is to live by example.