I Want My Mom!

My grandson, Will, soon to turn 4, was getting ready to start Pre-K. Going to school was a significant change for this little guy, who has been home with the entire family for fifteen months during CoVid. His parents and siblings had been promoting the event for weeks.  It was a milestone, and they persuaded him it was going to be great! Finally, the big day arrived, and all three children stood in line with mom, awaiting their teacher, who would lead them into their classrooms. Both excitement and apprehension coexisted in these three youngster

Will was still happy, smiling, and eager to begin his day when it happened.  His older brother and sister were beckoned and left him standing with his mom.  His expression said it all. “Wait a minute, aren’t we all in this together! Come back here, you guys. You can’t leave me!” It seems Will thought they would all be spending the day together. His teacher appeared, and he was escorted away from mom.  As she turned to leave, mom took one quick look back, and her fears were confirmed; the tears were rolling down her baby’s cheeks. She knew to dash off, for staying around could sabotage the whole plan. She might be too tempted to take Will in her arms and rescue him from his misery. With 1,000% certainty, mom and dad anticipated a phone call. They were sure Will wouldn’t survive until the end of the day.

This scenario is not that unusual for children, but what about for the rest of us? Facing change and the unknown can be daunting whether we’re 4, 14, 40, or beyond. The scared little child inside of us can come back to haunt us when something threatens to invade our comfort zone.  The truth is we like sameness. We feel secure there. When we contemplate something which may be disruptive, our emotions can take over and call the shots. Doubt and fear may creep in, and we begin to question the value of the potential new opportunity. Do we really want to change jobs, pursue a degree, move to a new city, start a new relationship? We ponder what price we will have to pay. What if we fail? What if people laugh at us? What if we end up alone? Just thinking about moving forward can cause our hands to sweat and our stomachs to hurt.  We may remind ourselves we’re doing well where we are; why rock the boat?

We’ve now arrived at critical juncture number one. Here is where we wrestle with the two elements most likely at odds with one another, emotions and truth. We must determine if we are willing to get beyond our emotional self, who is afraid to take risks and so often short-sited, and instead objectively, thoughtfully, and logically consider new long-term goals?  Who do we want to become, what do we want to accomplish, who do we want to impact, and what legacy do we want to leave when we depart this world? Are we indeed willing to grow beyond our current self and engage in new experiences, frightening as that may be?  The temptation to play it safe is powerful.  Now, it may not be that something terrible will happen if we decline the opportunity placed before us; instead, we will miss out on countless blessings which may be waiting around the corner. The outcome of our decision may have a  life-altering impact.

If the nagging thought to make a change won’t go away, and we don’t allow our anxiety or fears to control us, we determine to move forward. We plan our steps, pursue wise counsel, and prepare. Then, finally, we’re ready to take the plunge, but not so fast. We’ve now arrived at critical juncture number two. The old fears and doubts may reemerge. Our emotions may again get the best of us, and we have a compelling urge to put the brakes on and stay in our comfort zone. “It’s not too late. Go back!” Our insides scream. We’re standing on the precipice, prepared but so afraid to jump. Perhaps a hand is reaching out to lead us forward, or the plane is about to depart; we’re in the waiting room, and the appointed meeting time is five minutes away. What are we going to do? Do we have the courage to follow through, or will we bail? It all begins or ends here.

We go for it!  In no time at all, we’re laughing at how silly we were about the whole thing and sure we made the right decision. We’re proud of ourselves and feeling confident. Time marches on, and eventually, reality hits. All is not as we expected.  People are more challenging, and we encounter barriers and obstacles. It’s so much more complicated than we thought. We’re told to be flexible, patient, and keep learning. “Why did I do this?” We may ask. Is it too late to turn back?  

This is critical juncture number three. We must choose to hang in there! Enduring is what it will take to succeed, but we may feel tired, disillusioned, frustrated, or even angry. Getting through this chapter is imperative, but it may take a while—a long while! The choice to persevere may even be a day-to-day decision. Yet, although we can’t see it from here, this is often the period where we grow the most and what equips us to be successful.

Let’s revisit Will’s first day. To his parent’s astonishment, he made it until dismissal. The teacher reported there were some rough moments, but he did all right. However, when Will saw mom, he did start sobbing. “I missed you so much!” He exclaimed. He later shared the day’s adventures with the family and even declared he would go back the next day. He took the plunge, and he’s willing to persevere! Fourteen or so years from now, we’ll know more about Will. What his passions, talents, and aspirations are. We’re also likely to be impressed by how much he’s grown—physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and academically.

But, imagine if, on day one of Pre-K, Will’s parents yielded to their little boy’s tears. Worse yet, what if Will rarely had to push through any emotional discomfort? What a disservice that would be to Will. We might predict the outcome: an insecure, dependent, anxious young man. The same principle applies in our lives, too. We may, more than once,  find ourselves standing in front of a growth opportunity, but there are unknowns. They can be scary. If we yield to the fear and anxiety so common and understandable in those moments, we potentially jeopardize the good things in store for us down the road. Remember, fear should only be a tap on our shoulder to get our attention, but it should never direct our steps. Instead, let us all commit to going boldly forward, even if we do so, shaking and trembling!

WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

Remember this 1984 song made famous by Tina Turner? It has a catchy tune, but the lyrics are depressing—What’s love but a second-hand emotion, and who needs a heart when a heart can be broken? The pop tune is misrepresenting this thing called love, which expresses itself in many ways across many experiences.

Let’s start by observing the behavior of little ones. When they fall or get a bump, they come running for a kiss or hug. This is an interesting phenomenon, as the affection they receive does not make the discomfort go away, yet somehow seems to be just what the doctor ordered. Why is that, do you suppose? I have a theory. Deep inside their little hearts, these expressions of love convey a powerful message. Someone is there who cares, and they will not be left to themselves to fend off the harsh, cruel world around them. It doesn’t end there.

Consider the student or new employee who fails miserably at a critical assignment. Instead of rejection, she is reassured that mistakes are nothing more than learning opportunities and, by the way, you’re doing great. It’s quite likely this young academic or recruit will not only succeed but exceed expectations in the journey ahead. Why? Because they are loved differently. They experience being valued, respected, encouraged. They have a cheerleader on their side who sees the best in them.

Then there’s adulthood. Stuff happens. How about getting passed over for the long-awaited promotion, or worse yet, when the well-paying job is unexpectedly terminated?  The disappointed worker arrives home feeling anxious and perhaps embarrassed. Instead of condemnation and rejection, however, he receives an embrace from a loved one, confirming what was secretly hoped for—that we’re in it together—a soothing balm to a bruised heart. Love shows up in these situations and beyond.

Love says you are essential to me; you matter. Love holds our hand when we’re wounded, forlorn, and broken-hearted; walks alongside us in the ugly places—through all the expressions of anger, tears, and screams of anguish; has our back when others suggest it might be prudent to turn away; accepts our differences and limitations because we matter more than our opinion; means we struggle to hold on to the relationship when the hard stuff comes, and it would be easier to let go; says we’re sorry when we’re wrong and when offended; willingly, whole-heartedly forgives the slights committed against us; is not afraid to convey the truth, holds us accountable, and demands we grow into the person we were created to be. Love is expensive, hard-won, and born out over time. It calls for sacrifice and dying to self. Yet, what we ultimately gain surpasses the price we pay—a heart overflowing and full of joy.

I think the song had it all wrong. Love has everything to do with it and begins with a decision to commit to the other.  Then, we persevere on the journey, celebrating and enjoying the blessings we receive.

In this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ, who was born to die for us. A sacrificial lamb, yes, but also, a flesh and bones person who loved deeply. In John 13:1, we read: Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (NIV) Did you catch that? He loved them to the end. He knew their weaknesses, flaws, failures, and those that were to come; yet, he loved them to the end. May we follow his lead as we love, albeit imperfectly, the special people whom God brings our way. — Visit amywildmanwhite.com

Need a Stocking Stuffer?

If you are looking for a unique gift that will stir thoughts and memories worth discussing, check out my new devotional for women, When I Was Five, I Blinked–Then I Was Fifty, available on Amazon Books. It makes a great gift for that special person in your life. Check it out!                                                                                                         https://www.amazon.com/When-Was-Five-Blinked-Then-Fifty/dp/B08NDT5P3X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=amy+wildman+white&qid=1606336952&s=books&sr=1-1

Reimagine-Your Life, Your Purpose, Your Future-A Personal Journal is Now Available!

A Great New Resource! A Personal Journal, the  companion to Reimagine-Your Life, Your Purpose, Your Future, is now available on Amazon.com! A Personal Journal is a life-planning tool which addresses each major area–spiritual, relational, vocational, recreational, physical, and emotional. It is designed to be used by  individuals or in small groups who desire to move forward. Helpful exercises are included providing insight and steps  for achieving desired outcomes. For more information or to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Personal-Journal-REIMAGINE-Purpose-Future/dp/B08JLQLQZ2/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords

visit amywildmanwhite.com

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

I was walking with my two youngest grandchildren the other day, and a car was driving down the street. My almost-three-year-old grandson said with high alarm, “Car!” That was warning enough for my one-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter to run, hug my legs, and then lift her arms for me to pick her up. She felt afraid and was needing protection from the danger she anticipated. My grandchildren trust me. So far, I’ve not done anything too wrong to cause them doubt!

For all of us, trust is a persuasion. We choose whom we will trust based on the evidence given. I don’t entrust my finances to someone who has a history of gambling and losing money. I don’t share my inner-most self with someone unable to guard my heart. And so on. Trusting others has been complicated of late. It seems so many folks have proven themselves to be untrustworthy. The world feels more chaotic, unpredictable, and confusing, and we feel off balance. Frustration and anxiety levels seem to increase at the least provocation.

Perhaps we need to take a deep breath and redirect our focus to a familiar, but profound truth: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Do we believe God is trustworthy? Has he not proven himself? Can we not see the evidence all around us, throughout history, and in our day-to-day lives? While there are things we do not understand from a human perspective, God is quite capable of controlling both the distribution of good and the limit of evil. Trusting God does not mean we step out of the picture. God has given each of us an assignment to complete, and while we are to do so ever so boldly, we are to do so only in love and with a servant’s heart. We, as my grandchildren did with me, can run to our heavenly father. His love, and his plan for all of us, is perfect. He is at the helm, and he’s got this.

THE SOFA

We moved in November. Unpacking left us with over 100 empty boxes. I posted them for free, but as you might imagine, not many folks are moving around the holidays. About a month later, we finally had a taker. A lovely woman and her husband brought their truck and took them all! I let them know we were also selling the beautiful sofa in the garage, which was in plain view beside the boxes. I explained it would have been perfect in my basement family room, but it wouldn’t fit down the steps. We had even thought about taking it apart and rebuilding it once we had it downstairs! She sympathized and said she’d let her friends know.

I later posted my sofa for sale on social media. After a couple of weeks, no one had responded. I changed the ad and made it available for free. I quickly had a taker who was coming the next morning. When the truck pulled in the driveway, the same woman who took the boxes emerged. I greeted her. “I recognize you!”

“I feel bad for taking it,” She immediately responded. “I know how much you wanted to use it.”

“Please, don’t worry,” I replied. “I’m glad you can take it.”

We chatted while her son and husband loaded the couch. She shared some of her life experiences. Her first husband died when she had four small children at home. She supported them all as a nurse. She later lost her twenty-seven-year-old daughter to a stroke and a twenty-year-old son after a car accident. There was more heartache she described, but she was doing well now. What was so impressive was how kind she seemed, despite having more than her fair share of life’s burdens. She did not appear bitter or angry. She was thankful. She said she had remarried a wonderful man, and her son, although permanently injured, was home from military duty. We hugged good-bye, and I wished her all the best. I realized, once again, my priorities need adjusting. Was I upset over a piece of furniture?

This dear woman also reminded me of the outstanding qualities we humans often possess—strength of character and an indomitable spirit. We’re going through a rough patch, but so have generations before us. We’ll come out of this, and my guess is more appreciative of our blessings and less focused on the things that matter least. God bless us all during this challenging chapter.

COMMENCEMENT SEASON

Graduation season is upon us and commencements abound. I, for one, am a fan of the whole thing. In spite of long lines, scorching heat, and waiting forever to exit the parking lot, it’s a thrill to see the students cross the finish line.  How can we not join in celebrating the culmination of years of hard work, victories won and challenges overcome? Nights of cramming, tears over assignments, final exams, and the struggles dealing with difficult professors—it’s all over!  It’s joyful and we want them to go forth and prosper.  Secretly, though, I wish I could talk to each graduate the next day. I’d want to encourage them not to forget the lessons learned.  I don’t mean the subject matter they studied, but rather the truth about who they are:  how they patiently persevered; endured and showed true resiliency; rebounded when they achieved less than what they had hoped for or even failed; grew in understanding people and relationships; perhaps survived times of loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and maybe even despair.  I would want them to know when the rainbows fade or life throws them a curve ball, that they have what it takes to keep on keeping on.  I’d also ask them to tuck away three words for when they really need them:  “JUST HOLD ON”. There may be days when that is all they’ll be able to do, and that’s quite okay, until they can once again get back in the race.  For us onlookers, we have an assignment too. We have to continue to show up, to be that still, small voice that whispers truth when they have bought into the lie about who they are or what is possible.  We have to listen, guide and always celebrate when there is opportunity to do so. Graduation is the end of a chapter. There is so much more of each book to be written. How exciting it is!

MIRRORS IN YOUR LIFE

photo-book-coverWho and what have been your mirrors, and what have they said about you and about life itself? When we embark on a journey of discovery, to acquire knowledge and apply wisdom to separate truth from untruth in the mirrors of our experience, we have enormous potential to grow into all that we are called to be in order to live a transformed life.  Read and learn more: Reimagine: Your Life, Your Purpose, Your Future: https://www.amazon.com/REIMAGINE-Your-Life-Purpose-Future/dp/1799073009/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=REIMAGINE+YOUR+LIFE%2C+YOUR+PURPOSE%2C+YOUR+FUTURE&qid=1552239299&s=amazon-devices&sr=8-1-spell