There was a lot of whispering around the water cooler. My supervisor was a candidate for Vice President of the department. Many asked, “Was she qualified?” Others thought, “There has never been a woman in this position before,” and “Is she even suitable for the task?” Although there were at least four other candidates, she was chosen to carry the torch of Vice President. Never had I been so proud of my boss of three years. My coworkers and I had a big celebration dinner filled with joy and plenty of gifts to honor her new-found success. Finally, her hard work had paid off and she was headed for bigger and better things.
After the initial excitement died down, I was hit with the news that there would now be a few more additional changes. Although the promotion was a wonderful achievement, I never considered that I would no longer report to my fearless leader. As she moved up the corporate ladder, there was now a new vacancy in the department and things were about to shift. Her current position needed to be filled and I needed a new supervisor.
There was again a lot of whispering around the water cooler. “Who would be the candidate for the new position?” “Would that person be as qualified as my last supervisor?” and “Is this person going to be suitable for the task?” Many candidates began to come into the office. With each interview, anxiety began to build and an unseen dark cloud began to fill the atmosphere. My work environment was encompassed with a state of worry and fear of the unknown. Finally, a new candidate was hired and things began to change.
Through this experience, I realized three things: God is sovereign, change is inevitable and worry and fear is the absence of faith and trust. I often wonder why God sometimes never fully discloses the stipulations of his blessings. For example, even when there is a promotion, we often lose things in the process in order to grow. As God takes us to higher heights and deeper depths, we may lose some friends along the way and may have to endure a lot of negative “whispers” and our faith may be challenged. We may feel uncomfortable at times, but we cannot let fear overtake our hearts, because even though our situation may transform, there is a time and season for every change and this too shall pass.
We must fully trust God that our outcome will be in our favor and even when we go through the process of not knowing the future, there should be a reassurance that God is in control. God encourages us in the book of Deuteronomy 31:6 to “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He also reminds us in 1 Peter 5:7, to “Cast all our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us.” God is with us, through the journey of moving into the blessings He has prepared for us. He is with us when people speak words filled with questions of doubt and uncertainty and He is with us through the midst of change. Leave the unknown results to God, and never fear the outcome of moving forward.
Parenting children who say exactly what’s on their minds…
While in Walmart, I received assistance from a worker who was morbidly obese. As we were wrapping up, my daughter said he had a “big fat belly.” I missed the comment because he was still speaking, but my son announced loudly that his sister said the gentleman had a “big fat belly.” Of course, my eyebrows jumped into my hairline. I apologized profusely; he was incredibly gracious. I, however, was not. We had a lengthy discussion on kind words and how not to be rude when interacting with people who are different from us.
We recently visited a region where manners and social appropriateness are very prevalent. My children’s lack of social grace was highlighted and I felt the need to put more pressure on my children to conform to social norms. When visiting a pool in the area, our family met another family with a son near our son’s age. When we encouraged handshakes, my son said, “I don’t want to shake his hand. I don’t know what germs he has.” He was dead serious. After mentally face-palming, I made him shake the little boy’s hand and explained that his actions were rude. I didn’t give him a choice what to do with his body; I immediately regretted it. In that moment, I was the parent who refuses to make my children hug and kiss people in greeting (yes, even family members), but in a moment of embarrassment, made my son touch a stranger simply because I thought it would be rude not to.
A quiet voice in the back of my mind questioned me….Why is it rude? Why can’t he say no to shaking a stranger’s hand? I have been pondering this situation ever since, while reflecting on my life as someone who has always struggled socially and with having no filter.
I don’t enjoy many social situations, and have feelings of anxiety in settings where there are lots of people. My lack of filter is even more apparent when I’m feeling anxious. I often wonder if my son feels the same way causing him to say and act the way he does when he’s around unfamiliar people.
In the situations above, I realized that I reacted and parented out of embarrassment-not grace. I reacted negatively in order to avoid being uncomfortable and offending others. How much pressure should we put on our children to be “polite” and act socially acceptable? At what age does this filter develop?
I know what it is like to be alienated for having quirks and speaking my mind. For me, there is a feeling of embarrassment that comes with not adhering to social norms and a stigma of being “weird” for lack of a better word. As a result, I push in order to protect my children from perceived potential harm.
Where does the balance come in? How important is it for them to conform to ideals of social norms?
I haven’t figured it out yet, but it is my mission to find balance in teaching our children the ways of the world while conforming to God’s standards.