She’s on my mind and we’ve barely met, even so I want to sit across the table and get to know her better. I want to find out where she’s been, what she’s like and what her heart’s desires are. I want to share mine with her, because in this way we connect. We share stories and find common ground where hearts resound.
“You too?!” we proclaim and it’s like someone has entered into our world.
As we meet over breakfast, words shift. We take turns experiencing joy and feeling camaraderie over pain. We even tell each other a little of “what I think you need to do,” but really, we’re preaching to ourselves too.
These moments happen when two gather together and agree to allow vulnerability & grace clothe the conversation. When neither side takes the reins of control. We sit across the table from each other; one person eats or sips with a ready heart and open ears, while the other speaks. And then, in essence, the table turns. Care is given and received.
This mutual connection is a rare find these days. Sometimes we miss it because one party or the other is not ready and willing to be a safe place. But we need it. We need caring relationships with each other.
Then I go home and my children are fighting. One is acting out of bitterness, anger or spite. The other is instigatory and full of pride. My immediate reaction is to respond with like for like.
Oh, you want to act all angry & uppity? Well, then I just might too.
The atmosphere of our home is red hot and no one wants to cool down so I send them to individual spaces where steam can dissipate. When they are ready, we hug and apologize.
Sometimes, I have my children sit at the table with me so we can talk about what happened and how we can have a better outcome the next time disagreements arise.
As we sit there, I’m reminded of sitting across the table from friends. God brings to mind the gentle tones, the drawing out and the connecting that took place, time and time again. With wet eyes and a deep breath, I see these faces near me altogether differently.With the Father’s help, I see my children as part of my community. Not a commodity. They are more than beings to be stewarded, but precious lives created uniquely by the same God that breathed life into me.
My children have hearts that long to be known. Just like me. Just like my friend.
I remember the moments where my friend revealed ungodly actions towards others, and I realize the similarities. My children and me. I’m humbled. Softened to give compassion.
I recall the great love I felt when my friend sought me out with her words. When she asked questions to learn more about my heart and about what made me beautiful & uniquely gifted by the Father.
Won’t I ask my children too? Will I take the time to observe them in play, at work and in interaction with others? Will I learn what makes them joyful and excited or hurt and sad? What causes them to fear? To feel loved?
What if that friend across the table was my child?
In my early years I believed my role as a parent was limited to raising, training, directing and disciplining. I often missed the added roles of nurturing, seeking and getting to know. As God shows me more of what it looks like to seek Him out and how He seeks my heart, I see this tender connection between parent and child. How beautiful it is to be known by mom and dad.
We all long to be known.
Just like inviting a friend over to hear their heart and learn about their lives, we need to invite our children to the table and get to know theirs. We need to spend time watching them. We need to commune with them in ways that draw out the deeper things.
What if we pursued our children’s hearts like a treasure to be found? What if we were their safe place so they could share their heart? So they can experience being known.
When I do, I’m less prone to anger and irritation. I find my body relaxing and my posture transforms. My eyesight changes and my heart pliable.
My children’s hearts change too.
They are being loved, they are learning to be known. They are learning what it’s like to receive the Father’s love.
Father – help me to love and know my children well. Give me wisdom to know how to connect to their hearts. Remind me to invite them to the table. Give me grace to feed their hearts with life-giving words and time. Amen.