I don’t know about you, but if you have more than one child it’s absolutely mind boggling how they can come from the same parents yet be so different. Personality traits, quirks, and even their response to discipline can be night and day with each other. And to take it a step further, it is sometimes a true growing experience for myself to see traits and responses in my children that are directly from me — that aren’t qualities I wanted them to have.
One area that describes what I’m talking about is in sports. Now, my daughters are five and seven so they clearly are not professional athletes nor do I expect them to be. But as I’m spending some of our time at various extracurricular activities, I’ve noticed something different between them. My oldest is very much like me — people pleaser and highly aware of what others think. This is something that I have always disliked about myself and God uses it to refine me as a person. (Please know that I do believe these traits can be used in positive ways.)
Sinclair stood on the gymnastics floor and was asked to do cartwheels all the way across. I watched as she performed the task — always looking to the right and left and behind. She was very aware of who was around her. And that knowledge consumed her to the point where she wasn’t focused on doing the cartwheel. She was focused on what others were doing around her and whether or not she was being watched or judged by them. Isn’t it crazy that these kinds of traits exist in such little bodies?
I then turned my attention to my youngest who is quite the opposite. I watched her try to do cartwheels across the gym floor and it was so fun and comical to watch. She had no clue how to do one and they actually looked more like frog hops instead of cartwheels, yet she had a huge smile and her face was pointed forward. You see, Rory doesn’t care who’s around — in fact she may never even care to know your name. She is simply there to have fun. No worries of who is watching or sizing her up. She simply goes in with the expectation to have fun.
Sinclair can’t fully engage and do her thing because she is afraid of who’s watching and whether she’s measuring up. As I thought about it, I thought about myself (like I said earlier, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I no longer participate in sports, but I still am highly aware of what others think. As I write or as I speak or as I help someone decorate or as I parent or as I engage with my husband, I am highly aware of what others think. I look to the right and the left and behind. What do people think? Do they like me? Do they think I’m a terrible parent (because I do most of the time)? Am I meeting the standard? And because I look to the right and left and behind so much, I can’t simply engage in who I am and what I do. I simply can’t just do my thing. I can’t just do cartwheels because what if they look like frog hops.
Maybe we as women need to point our faces forward rather than looking to the right and left and behind. Maybe we need to stop focusing on who’s watching. We will never freely to do what God has placed before us if we constantly size ourselves up. In fact, we usually compare our worst weakness to someone’s best strength. We wonder if they will be noticed before us. Will they be more successful? Do they have a better cartwheels than us?
And we look behind — we focus on all the things we wish we hadn’t done. We say things like, “If only I had gone to college.” “If only I hadn’t messed up so royally.” “If only I didn’t have children.” “If only…” So instead of enjoying the cartwheels, we carry guilt and fear and shame which do nothing but hinder our ability to shine.
God has uniquely gifted each one of us. He has shaped us in ways that are unlike anyone else. We each have strengths and talents and skills and experiences. And God is big enough to place all these highly skilled women in one world with specific and unique roles for each of them. As women, we need to figure out what our thing is and do it without looking to the right and left and behind. We need to not care who’s looking from the sidelines. Because what you do is delighting someone. It is delighting the One who made you. I wish you could have seen my face as Rory frog leapt across the gym. My heart was full of glee and my face had a smile stretched from side to side. Not because she was doing something perfectly, but because she owned her thing and enjoyed the time doing it.
As you do your thing — whatever that is — God looks with great delight on you because you are doing what He designed you to do.
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