Why is my heart racing on August 8th? My oldest son started Jr High today! My daughter started 4th grade today! My youngest child started 1st grade today!
Perspective is an interesting thing, isn't it?
My oldest son started Jr High...I remember Jr High! It was where social classes seemed to begin dividing up, where my skin started changing and a new daily goal emerged - to catch the attention of the cute boy. It was where I became more aware of my wardrobe and my hair, who noticed me and why, was I in the cool-crowd or the not-so-cool crowd? Was I gonna forget my locker combo? Would I be late for class? Would I forget something in class and look or feel like an idiot? Will I keep making good grades? ... WAIT! I'm old enough to have a child in Jr High?! ;)
4th grad - LEAP testing!! Changing classes for main subjects, not just library or art or music. Higher learning and more expectation. No older brother at the school now - she's the oldest there. The challenge of making her own imprint instead of trying to walk in her big brother's BIG footprints that he left at the school. Living up to teacher's expectations of her because of who her brother is. Making a name for herself not just being known as his little sister. Leading, not just following. Continuing to set an example for her little brother. I am the middle child - and oh the pressures I put on myself as the oldest daughter and middle child. While many of those pressures pushed me to excel, will she excel or withdraw? She and I are very different. When does the identity in children begin to get questioned, for little girls in particular?
1st grade! He's the youngest in our family, but will be one of the older kids in his class. Will he be a leader? He gets frustrated so often when he can't do something he think he should be able to do well. Will he get frustrated as he's learning? Will he quit? Will he be nice to the other kids and make friends? Will he be shy in class? Will he be too talkative trying to make others laugh?
It's funny to think about the challenges I remember experiencing myself, as well as the ones I now anticipate for my kids. It's also very interesting to see that some of those challenges remain similar all thru life. Social classes, keeping the eye of my husband, looking nice, being "cool," forgetting important details, being late, saying something that makes me look like an idiot, not knowing something I should know, following in others' footsteps, living up to expectations, leading, personal pressures, excelling at whatever I do, setting an example with my life, being younger than some and older than some, being frustrated as I continue to learn, making friends, quitting ...
Can you relate to any of this right now in your life? I remember hearing something about relationships when I was younger that stuck with me. It may be puppy love, but it's real to the puppy. These issues we face at different times in our lives are so similar and yet so different. To a 7th grader, at a new school, with a new schedule, and new friends, it may be simply daunting to think about forgetting your locker combination or worse, remembering it and not being able to make it work. As an adult, we look at it and say - just go ask a teacher for help. That need for help might represent something to that 7th grader that could possibly dent his self-confidence. How does it make me feel when I have to ask for help? Does it "dent" my self-confidence? Do I let that lack of knowledge or know-how affect how I see myself? What about social expectations? Fitting in, looking just right, comparing oneself to others, being younger, being older... what about all that? Does aging suddenly solve those issues? I would gently say - HECK NO! I've dealt more with those things as I've aged than ever before.
Perspective - You've probably heard that life is not about the destination, but rather about the journey. I can buy into that! If that's the case, then maybe we should all try to keep our lives in perspective. The issues we face today and the challenges we face today ARE VERY REAL. The issues our children face are VERY REAL to them. The issues our neighbor faces or the child we teach, or the family we come across at Chic-fil-A are VERY REAL. We shouldn't diminish them because we can't fully relate to them, or because we now feel OUR issues are bigger than theirs or worse or whatever. Have some compassion on others in this life. Life isn't always about how YOU are affected by something else but it CAN be about how you can affect someone else - both positively and negatively. Take your eyes off of your issues to help someone else thru theirs.
And, when it comes to your own issues, find some friends you can be real with, those you can share your challenges with. Someone who can help talk you thru some of your concerns. Friends who can remind you "this too shall pass." Your issues and challenges are real right now, but the issues won't be there forever. And they may not all be as big or bad as you think right now. Maybe there's something else at work in your life. Maybe there's a reason something is happening. Or maybe despite something bad happening, something good can still happen out of it.
Jonathan and I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of weeks helping our oldest son prepare for his newest adventure. We've asked all 3 kids questions about how they feel, what they are nervous or concerned about, what questions they have and so forth. The more we talk, the more we prepare together, the more we explore, the better they feel about starting the new school year. I'm still nervous for them, but they feel better. :)
So, if your heart is racing about something...
ENGAGE! Don't run away, don't diminish, don't crumble - ENGAGE! Engage in the lives of others. LISTEN to their story - they have one to tell. Sometimes their stories can actually help you thru yours.
HAVE COMPASSION! Recognize the issues in others' lives are VERY real - help them when you can! Take time for others.
SHARE! Share your story, share your faith, share your experiences. Take a risk - try to have a bigger perspective about this life and who's in it! Try to discover something new about your journey and what you might be challenged to do thru it. :)
thanks for being you ...