Sunday, July 27, 2008


I caught the end of "Hope Floats" on TV the other day while rummaging through some paperwork.
Sandra Bullock's character tells her daughter that "childhood is the thing you spend your adult life getting over." Or something like that.
I had to laugh. It really is true, and you'd think that after you hit 40 those issues would go away, but as I minister to people, there it is. It's in me, too. Past occurrences, especially parental induced, mess us up.
Much as I have a lot of "stuff" that still follows me around from my childhood, (and still have a 76 year-old-control-freak father who thinks I'm one of the stupidest people alive) there are many of my friends who have much more from which to break free.
We all seem to suffer from self-esteem problems of one level or another. So, then I have to badly have I messed my own kids up?
Did I push 'em too much? Not enough? Did I hurt their feelings? Did I lift them up or drop them in despair?
They're all great kids...even the ones to which I didn't give birth.
My oldest is an Eagle scout. It was his dream to get Eagle. We had to push him through the last stages. He was trying to graduate, work, get a car, and make Eagle before his 18th birthday. That was a fun year! But, he made it, praise God.
My youngest struggled through Scouts because he thought we demanded it of him. He has retired a Star scout and all of us are relieved. He hasn't followed through on any of his passions; basketball, music, etc., for one reason or another. I think he hasn't found the "thing" because he's good at everything he tries. Straight A's with no effort. He most likely has more talent in one little finger...and a higher IQ than any of us...and he has no idea how incredible he is.
I did, though, ask him to draft me a letter as to why he wanted to quit scouts, so he did. I sealed it and mailed it to myself with a postmark--and filed it.
I didn't want him coming back to us when he is 30 and demanding why we let him quit when we encouraged his brother--which we only did because it was his brother's passion.
We wrap ourselves around the perception of others and take it as the truth. They see our flaws, our faults, our mistakes, our less-than-perfect appearances. We let that become our esteem-o-meter and walk in those untruths. One thoughtless (intended or not) word from a parent (or child, or friend, or spouse) can last a lifetime.
Sometime, though, as we work our way through our journey, we have to learn to shake it off--it's hard because the reflection of ourselves that we see from others seems to ring true--after all, they're LOOKING at us, right? They KNOW us, right? And, it can be the only "tangible" feedback that we get.
Somehow, though, we have to see our reflection in the right Light--from the right Source--from the One True Mirror. Him, of course. We're made in His image--not theirs. Anything bad we get from others in regard to ourselves is a poor reflection.
Everything here, in this realm, is small and unimportant compared to what will Be. Thank God.
If only we could always remember that, and strive to be instruments of True Reflection, for ourselves, our children, and others---but, truly, no one's opinion, bad OR good, matters! Only His opinion matters--and that's a done deal. We're loved, adored, sacrificed for. And, there's not a thing we can do about it.



Anonymous said...

WOW KAREN! Great post. You hit on a topic that speaks to just about all of us. I often worry about what I am doing to mess up my son's life too. Do you think our parents ever stopped to wonder such a thing? Your boys sound like wonderful young men, I can't imagine that you did too much to mess them up :)

karen said...

Thanks, B.
You're not doing anything with your son's life except make it wonderful.
Kudos to you, single mom!

TimD said...

Greatest area of ongoing relational struggle for me - my dad. Hard-as_ old man in whom I never had any value. Indeed you would hope for this not to matter past 40 & still. Very difficult for me to see God, as my "Father" for most of my life & that not 'ring' w/, "why on earth would I want a Heavenly 'Father'?"

I love Marc Cohn's "The Things We've Handed Down" & my mind & heart fill w/ all passed to me & that which I pass along, whenever I hear it.

Man, the junk we drag through life. I pray God's best for our children ... & theirs ... & theirs ... & theirs ... - td

karen said...

When you get right down to it, Tim, your dad just doesn't know you. Mine doesn't either. Your friends and your son know who you are.
How can this escape our fathers? I find it fascinating. How can he not know who I really am? He tries to define and compare me--my kids look at him blankly as if he is talking about some alien woman.
I haven't a clue.
Maybe different generations where dads kept their noses to the grindstones and ignored their families because they were busy "doing their job."
Anyway, I hear you, and I do understand.
We just break that generational sin and strive to be better. I think we have.

Milly said...

I was blessed with great parents and they make mistakes. Clearly you can see them in me. I've made big mistakes with my children. I guess that's what we do.

karen said...

That's great, milly. I'm glad they were good parents.
Lots of parents, though, are abusers; either physically, sexually, or emotionally.

Abby said...

Speaking from experience with your oldest, Karen, to say that you've done a wonderful job is quite possibly the understatement of the millennium.

Don said...

I'll quote from someone much wiser than me:

"So long as you are still worried about what others think of you, you are owned by them."

karen said...

Abby, LOL. Thanks, sweetie....I think it's obvious he knows an excellent woman when he sees one! :-D

Don, yeah, we all know that--but it's different when trying to apply. We both know it's easier to walk away emotionally and physically from those who beat us down, than from family members that continue to be present.

Don said...

Absolutely! My quote (not too sure where it comes from)is the ideal; to give us something to shoot for. But, I do think it is something of which to keep reminding myself. Otherwise, I fall back into the old way of thinking,ie; that it matters what others think of me.