Free To Be
Categories: Peer Pressure
I felt really good. I had wanted to clean up the garage for a long time, and I finally did it. I brought my six-month-old daughter into the garage with me and let her explore all the toys on her rotating play station while I organized and threw things away. Afterwards, I felt as if I had accomplished a great deal.
Then I had a startling and transformative realization. I felt accomplished because I had spent time organizing things. But what I really wanted was to feel accomplished because I was spending time with my daughter: raising her, loving her, playing with her, meeting her needs, helping to bring out the best in her -- the individual God created.
Yet, society tells us that in order to be accomplished or successful, we have to achieve or do something worldly -- earn money, win a sporting event, get a promotion at work, get a certain score on our SATs, find a job, etc. We've been told that playing with our friends, family, children, or even fun ideas is not a very productive priority. As a result, if we're not engaged in doing something useful according to the world's standards, we somehow feel that we're not accomplished, not effective, or not successful.
That's just not true! That was the startling realization that transformed my outlook on life and gave me freedom to mother more in the way I felt God was directing me. This same principle is applicable to everyone at any stage of life because the real root of the issue is the question: What makes us accomplished or successful?
Standing there in my kitchen, washing dishes, with my daughter in her bouncy chair on the floor, I decided to feel accomplished … even if I did nothing else but hold her, laugh with her, read to her, change her diapers, feed her. The laundry could pile up neatly in the clothes hamper; the dishes could be left unwashed for now; her toys could stay out rather than getting put away each and every time.
I didn't have to accomplish things, like keeping a spotlessly clean house (even though I still believe neatness is important, and I help my now three-year-old daughter learn to put away her clothes and toys). Nor did I have to let societal expectations define me or make me stressed if I didn't fulfill predetermined expectations.
I just had to be -- to be myself, with my daughter being herself. That brought relaxation, joy, and abundant laughter. It also brought success. Being God's child, expressing the qualities God has given us -- that's accomplishment.
After all, it's a person's character, the values and morals s/he embodies, that makes a person great -- compassion, honesty, patience, awareness, thoughtfulness, creativity, principle, imagination, joy, integrity, gentleness, responsibility, trustworthiness, persistence, flexibility, moral courage, service to others, discipline, prayer.
It's who a person is -- not what a person does -- that matters and defines success. Maybe that's why Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children" (Matt 19:14 NLT). Children know how to be. We, too, can thoroughly enjoy each moment of being God's child.