I am learning the sweetest lesson that I would almost swear is changing my body chemistry and slowing down the aging process. I am simultaneously trying not to regret spending so many years not living in this truth.
So much of my struggle comes simply from being a mama, but it seems to be compounded by my 2-ness. I have always loved to help my husband and our children “figure out” how best to navigate all kinds of difficult situations. If any one of them is in the midst of a mini crisis, there is nothing this 2-mama loves more than being needed, and if the tangle is between any 2 or more of them, well then I’ve always felt it is my responsibility to get right in the middle and help them to understand the other person’s viewpoint so that peace and love would once again be restored in our family.
Recently, as we have been walking through this trying season in our family, I am seeing so clearly that satan wants division and isolation among us. In the past, this would’ve panicked me and I would be in full-on mama-2-fixit mode. I’d convince myself because of other broken relationship history that any conflict between my children could be permanent. I’d be on high-alert for any harsh word or action, lest left unaddressed, would sever the ties that bind us so that reconciliation was impossible. I’d force myself, my husband and our children into conversations that none of us was anywhere ready to have, thus resulting in deeper wounding all the way around.
Often I would listen to one of my lovie’s emotional assessments of a situation, all the while getting amped up about the other lovie who was clearly in the wrong! Then I’d confront this “other” only to find out that I was only getting one side of the story, and in the name of reconciliation, I had jumped the gun, crossing several boundaries and hurting everyone in the process.
Holy Spirit has been unconditionally patient with my insanity. He has gently and consistently grown me in this area. Initially, my first milestone, which was more work than I care to admit, was curbing my yelling (screaming) at my immediate family. This is embarrassing, but the truth is, I lost my temper and turned into an insane banshee with my babies on a somewhat regular basis for more years than I care to admit right now. This would happen for important and worthy reasons such as forgetting their schoolwork at home, not emptying the dishwasher when I asked them to, and their all time favorite: when they would leave someone out, especially one another. The amazing thing is that I can’t even remember the last time I went full-on banshee on anyone. So, that’s a win.
My next goal was staying out of my grown children’s disagreements with each other and with their dad. This was SO, SO HARD for me!!! The interesting thing was that they asked me to do this and we all decided to make it a family rule, but when they would argue, someone would inevitably look at me and say, “Aren’t you going to say something?! Why are you letting him/her say that without saying anything?!” I also discovered that my children had become champion busybodies, thanks to my example, and staying out of arguments that didn’t involve them became a family goal. So, that objective was not obtained as smoothly, but I’m grateful and proud to say that when 2 of us are having a spat and all of us are together, the other 3 stay quiet and refrain from taking sides 95% of the time.
My latest ambition has been to stop being the fix-it girl. When my children share a challenging situation they’re dealing with, my mind is racing to think of the best solution for them. Half the time, I’m not truly listening to what they are communicating, because I’m so busy trying to make it all better and be the hero! (insert another “ick”)
I’m learning I should not attempt to solve the struggles in other people’s, especially my children’s, lives. It is perfectly acceptable, nay, preferable to stay silent, truly listen and simply ask what they need from me. I’ve found that in actively staying focused on what is being said to me, I can more easily wade through the emotion and opinions that feel like facts to him/her. I don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions as much as I used to and that’s a double win, imo, because people don’t get hurt by possible untruths and satan can’t use this against me like he has so much of my life.
All 5 of us are NFP’s on the Myers-Briggs, so there is no shortage of the feels in our family. Learning to keep our emotions in check has been such a blessing. We still have tiffs and we are not terribly calm or logical when things get heated, but we stay in our lanes most all of the time now, we listen to each other in a way we never did before and the banshee is gone. I’d say we’re winning.