I have been searching all week for my lesson and I thought I found it. I felt that I was being spoken to, through stories and ideas that all seem to be linked in a subtle way. A piece of conversation with a friend over breakfast, a story someone told me during a lunch meeting, or an event that I experienced. I felt there was a connection and my mission was to find the answer. I was prepared to take the test by writing it down to see if I could fit all the pieces together.
I sat down this morning and wrote with certainty. Confident in my new-found ability. I was getting comfortable in this new skin. The words lining up nicely on the page, and then towards the end, it all fell apart. The whole thing became a heap of words that had no meaning. What happened? I felt like I failed. What a waste of time.
It would be so easy to give this writing thing up. I could find something else to occupy my mind, like watching TV or playing a game of Sudoku. I have lost my confidence and I was looking for excuses to quit. Yet, I knew that if I shut this computer down and did not proceed forward then I would be giving up. I was being stretched to find the answer. I was being pushed out of my comfort zone.
I could not wait until people heard this lesson. Was I being so confident in my abilities that I did not leave room to be taught? In writing it down and looking at it from every angle, I am the student working out a problem. And at the same time as I write it down for the public, I am the teacher. I realized that I needed to find the balance between the two. When I become more of one than the other, I limit myself.
This past week I was having breakfast with a dear friend and mentor. The topic turned to my children. I had a particular rough morning with one of my teenagers and in the heat of the moment I was told that I was too strict and too over protective. His anger seemed like hatred. My feelings were hurt and I wondered if I pushed too far. In gentle words my mentor said that being too forceful will push them away and not being forceful enough will make them become complacent. I asked her where was that boundary line and she couldn’t give an answer. I am starting to see that it might have to do more with balance. It is not an either this or that, but more of the balance in the ability to be firm but not rigid and to be flexible but not flimsy.
I also have a person in my life that is going through a tough time. When I think of bravery, I think of this person. She was born with a heart defect that would have stopped most children from living a normal life. Her defected heart carried her through childhood and into being a woman until it finally just gave out. She was given a gift of another heart and therefore another lease on life. The miracle is that this woman set no boundaries when it came to having a child. When everyone told her she couldn’t, she proved she could. She risked her life to have a baby. Was that confidence? Faith? Yet, this same woman lacks the confidence required to give that same baby, now a teenager, tough love. She turns a blind eye.
I also witnessed a struggle in a person that is growing up along side one of my children. I can see the talent that he possesses. Yet he can’t seem to rise above the “has potential” line. He is so confident in his ability that he can’t see what he lacks. He shifts the blame, tears others down and won’t follow guidance given by others because his ego refuses to see himself any other way. It is his over confidence that prevents him from moving on.
We are to strive for greatness, yet need to be humble. To push on, yet have faith that things will work out. To be influenced and yet to be the one to influence. Am I to know when the scales tip one way or the other? Am I in charge of the weights that are to keep everything in balance? If I am, then why not keep both sides empty? This would be easy. It would keep my world perfectly smooth and require doing nothing to either side. Choose emptiness? That doesn’t seem right, but yet I know people who do that very thing.
Maybe it is in the awareness that there should be a balancing act going on. Knowing that I have to constantly adjust and tweak the weight on my scales. I need to counter my overconfidence with humility. Life is one long chore of give and take.
When I became comfortable in the fact that I have been a mother for 25 years and felt that there was nothing more I needed to learn, I became rigid. But when I realized that the things that worked for my oldest might not work for my youngest and that bad decisions made by one should not hold the others back, I became aware that I could have the flexibility required to be fair yet firm.
This is the rise and fall of life. A life lived intentionally.
Am I teacher or student? Yes I am.