Tuesday, March 08, 2011

tea time: where the heart is

the first car in the pick-up lane, i watched my princess bound down the stairs towards me, her curls relaxed around her shoulders. she heaved her backpack into the car and buckled her own seatbelt. this is one of the highlights of my day.

i turn the rear-view mirror just a little bit so i can see her face. "hi princess. how was your day?" i asked.

her expression slowly changed. she was okay until i asked. i watched her start to crumble. her chin quivered. her shoulders slumped.

"what's the matter? didn't you have a good day?" my mom heart ached. if i hadn't been driving, i would have scooped her up into my arms and smoothed my hand over her sweet cheek.

"i got in trouble. twice." my good girl admitted quietly. she couldn't hold back the tears any more. i pulled in a deep breath and considered pulling over to the side of the road.

"okay, tell me what happened..." i started. with nothing but compassion and grace in my heart. i don't want to be that mom who denies her child could ever get in trouble. but i also don't want to be that mom that beats a dead horse. if she got in trouble (twice) at school, i knew she didn't need to get in trouble again here in the car.

just as soon as i checked my stance as Objective Mom, my Sensitive One told me why she was crying.

"i don't want to tell you because i don't want to be in trouble."       

heart. break.

i certainly didn't ask her to tell me what happened so that i could reprimand her again. i didn't ask her to tell me what happened so i could make her feel guilt or shame. i didn't ask her to tell me what happened so i could wag my finger and say "you know better." i didn't ask her to tell me what happened so i could take sides with the teacher.

i asked her to tell me what happened because i care and because i love her. i asked her in love, from a place of concern, with a desire to solve any problem she might be facing. in asking about her day, my intentions were true and good. my heart was for her.

she didn't want to tell me because she didn't know my intentions. she genuinely didn't know where my heart was.

how often does this happen in other situations? maybe a conflict with a friend or a misunderstanding with a loved one? how often do we react based on what we think the other person's intentions are? how often are we confused about where the person is coming from? how often is our perspective skewed?

how often do we stop and think: where is her heart?

is it for me? is it in a place of wanting resolution? is it for good-will?

my heart was completely for my daughter. she knows this. and yet, she reacted fearfully. her emotions overwhelmed her logic, causing her to forget the condition of Mommy's heart.

one of my favorite chapters in one of my favorite books addresses this exactly as it relates to husbands and wives. Author Dr. Emerson Eggrichs, in the book Love and Respect, encourages us to assume that our spouse is good-willed, that their intentions are good. reacting based on this assumption can change the entire tone of any situation, resulting in a relationship of love and respect.

at Sally Clarkson's Mom Heart Conference last month, intentional mothering was a common thread in her teachings. intentional in what we teach, intentional in what we say, intentional in what we exemplify. we have to set up our heart's intentions, and then make it clear what our intentions are by our actions, our words, and our body language. "your spirit is a testimony to the world," said Sally Clarkson. how do i exemplify my love-filled best intentions? i wonder if i'd smiled, or turned around to face my Big Girl, if she would have then seen my "intention" and her reaction would have been different.   

all it takes is a minute. a stepping outside of one's self to look at the circumstances with a fresh perspective. to think the best of someone's intentions, not thinking about past hurts or the grudges we want to hold on to. to respond not with our knee-jerk feelings, but with a respectful, thoughtful, careful, open mind.

this is where the heart is. 

Clothed with strength and dignity, she smiles at the future with faith. (Proverbs 31:25)
Rejoice, be gentle, pray, acknowledge God's presence, live in the peace of Christ. 
(Philippians 4:4)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13 NIV)

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