I sighed as I read it, because it rang true for me. And it’s not just about my parents but also about me as a parent. I’m a “tweener.” I’m in the middle of being parented and parenting others. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of the “get off my back” attitude. Although truth-be-told, I really can’t complain about either the relationship I’ve had with my parents over the years or the relationships I’ve had with my girls.
There’s really no reason to point out that our relationships haven’t been perfect, because we all know that no relationships are “perfect.” In fact, do we really even know what that word means? Trouble-free isn’t perfect; it’s delusional. Conflict-free isn’t perfect; it’s unhealthy. We need struggles to grow. The struggle in and of itself isn’t an issue; the way we deal with and move through the struggle is what makes a difference in our relationships.
But do we really need to struggle with the people we love the most? I mean, my parents would have done absolutely anything for me if they thought it would be helpful in the long-run, and I would do the same for my daughters. Do we have to push each other away in the process?
How can we ever find the wings to fly without flapping them in the faces of those closest to us? We’re awkward as we learn to fly. We squirm, stagger, trip…and in the process, we bump and bruise others, especially those closest to us. Sometimes it’s by accident. It’s just the consequence of our struggles. But sometimes we “accidentally on purpose” push a bit harder than is necessary. And we usually know just where to push to hurt the most.
Whose buttons are you pushing?
Perhaps it’s not a family member at all. It’s a co-worker, friend, volunteer, leader. Are you bruising someone because he or she has bruised you in the past? Or perhaps the specific person just reminds you of someone who has bruised you in the past. He or she is an easy target for the treatment you can’t give the person directly responsible, either because you don’t have the opportunity or because you’re just not willing to be that direct.
Is your pushing because of a natural need to spread your wings and grow, or is it because of a desire to “accidentally on purpose” (or one or the other) bump into someone?
If it’s not about growth, stop. Check your motivation. It’s not just the someone else you are bruising. You’re exhausting yourself and could get hurt in the process. You’re expending energy on something that doesn’t need your time and attention yet taking away energy and time from something that does. And you might be hurting one of your best allies in the process.
Yes, it seems that others are against you at times. It feels as if someone is rubbing your face in the mud. I’ve been there, too. But…are you sure that’s what’s going on? Or are you floundering on the ground for no reason? Are you judging someone else based on assumed intentions? Intentions and actions are two different things, and assumed intentions are often mis-assumed.
The very people you think are against you might walk alongside you—if not to support you, at least not to antagonize you—if you don’t quickly assume they’re against you. What’s the worst that could happen? You realize they’re against you after all? Well, you already think that’s where you (and they) are, so you won’t be surprised…but just because you don’t like what someone is doing doesn’t mean they’re against you. It might be that they want the most for you and are in pain watching you go through what you’re going through. Even though it doesn’t feel as if they’re helping, they are. You need to step back and give them the space to do it.
As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other. (Proverbs 27:17)