We’re snuggled into the covers, talking and giggling in those precious minutes before I kiss her goodnight.
We make shadow puppets on the wall and she begs me to sing Jesus Loves Me in my best opera voice. I’m not going to lie folks, it’s epic. You’ll have to hear it sometime.
She thinks that she is stalling bedtime. But I know the truth. These are treasured moments, sacred and precious.
These are the moments when she will confide in me about her day. When she’ll laugh hysterically recounting something that happened in the lunchroom or when she’ll tell me how her feelings were hurt on the playground.
I ask her, “How are things going with that certain friend?”
And she says, “Well, I said ‘hi’ to her this morning but she just looked at me and turned the other way.” She gets quiet. I get quiet. She says, “It hurts my feelings Mommy. Why does she do that?”
I sift through multiple emotions…wanting to burst into tears…wanting to knock some sense into this other little girl…wanting to put my own sweet girl in a bubble to protect her from ever being hurt again.
I pray for the Lord to give me the right words. I want to tell her that things get better. That as she gets older she won’t have to deal with these kinds of encounters. But then that would just be a big fat lie, now wouldn’t it?
Because we all know that even as (supposedly) grown-up women, we experience those same situations. Those same hurt feelings. That same confusion.
So, I tell her the truth as I’ve come to understand it.
“It’s not you, sweetie, it’s her.”
Oh, how I wish I would have understood this at her age. Frankly, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve finally begun to really grasp it.
You see, for the better part of my life I’ve assumed that it was ME. There had to be a reason why that person didn’t like me. And it had to be something that I needed to change. The idea that it might have been THEM was totally foreign.
Why when I said ‘hi’ and smiled, would they not do likewise? It must mean I’m not worthy of their acknowledgement. Guess I better try harder, be cuter, dress more stylishly, be anyone else but…me.
What I didn’t know then was that there were two worlds colliding in that moment. There was something at work underneath the surface…their surface and my surface.
Something called insecurity.
We all have it, don’t we?
And if you think you don’t have it then, well, I hate to tell you this but you are insecure about that.
But what I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older, is that just as we are all so uniquely different in our personalities, we are also uniquely different in how our insecurities manifest in our daily lives.
Maybe insecurity is what keeps someone from offering a smile and a ‘hi’. Maybe feeling in control of the friendship is what helps them combat the feelings of being out of control in other areas of their lives.
Maybe insecurity is what keeps someone trying over and over and over to get people to like them. Maybe trying so hard is what helps them combat the deep need to belong, to please, to be included.
Maybe insecurity is what keeps someone from celebrating another person’s success or paying them a compliment because they want so badly to achieve their goals or maybe they so desperately need to be the center of attention.
I think that for some time now, I’ve assumed that there is a hierarchy within the world of insecurity. Obviously having your insecurities manifest themselves in the form of trying too hard to please is MUCH nicer than having them manifest in not offering a smile to someone. But, who am I kidding?
It’s all damaging. It’s all destructive. It’s all ugly.
I want my precious daughter to understand that when that so-called friend decides to smile at her one day and ignore her the next, she is going to feel hurt. She is going to be confused and wonder what she has done. She is going to need to understand that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with that friend’s insecurity.
But then, after that first wave of emotions, it becomes a different story.
Because when your insecurity meets my insecurity, we have two choices. We can either let them duke it out knowing there will be no winners. Or we can overwhelm them with grace and understanding knowing that then there is no way we can lose!
We all have a choice to make. It might start about being about THEM and not about ME.
But how I process those feelings becomes about ME not about THEM. Are you tracking with me here?
I can’t control them. I can’t change them. But I can change me.
I can decide how I will process and internalizes those emotions.
I can decide whether I will retaliate by being the one to not smile or say ‘hi’ the next time.
I can decide whether or not I will congratulate that person on their success even if they have never been able to do the same for me?
I can decide if I will be willing to extend grace and forgiveness.
I can decide if I will allow my insecurities to function as a cloud over every encounter in my life.
Lately, I’ve been playing the ‘what if’ game.
What if it didn’t have to be this way?
What if ALL of us realized that while we can’t change THEM we can change US?
What if we made peace with our insecurities?
What if when our insecurities met their insecurities there was sympathy and understanding instead of hurt and confusion?
What if we, gulp, actually acknowledge and even apologized for how our insecurities have wounded others? How they’ve tripped up relationships and made situations more complicated than they needed to be.
Just think what might happen!
I can imagine…
Does this have to exist only in my imagination?
I don’t know…you tell me! 😉
Ruth Ann says
Thank you Vanessa…..it was exactly what I needed to read this morning..
Sherri Houston says
Well done! Thanks!
Shirley@Housepitality Designs says
Fabulous, fabulous post Vanessa….I think not only every little girl should read this but it pertains to us all…You truly have a gift of sending out messages of life’s situations. and P.S. You are a great mom!
Hope Williams says
Good morning Vanessa.
One of the many things my husband and I learned in parenting classes to become foster parents was listening. When one of our kids was questioning themselves, we would engage two sides of a story. First, did you do anything that you could think of. Second, is this other person going through something that you know about.
The answer was always a resounding YES for the other child. Foster kids tend to have so much in common, therefore are drawn to each other in school, extracurricular activities.
My “answer” was always the same.
How, what can you do to help. Let’s do something special for the other person. For us, it was a shopping trip, hair, nails, ( girls), boys was movie, skating, batting cage, etc. if just for a few hours, we could distract them enough to just set aside the real issue, the child could be a child for just a little while.
Vanessa, you have a gift. A gift that is universal, and one size fits all. It’s called love. And Love conquers all! If more moms were half as good as you are, what a great world this would be.
At The Picket Fence says
Thank you so much Hope!! Your comment is so encouraging and bless you and your husband for becoming foster parents and pouring yourselves into the lives of those kids! 🙂
Cindy Bailey says
This makes absolute since and phrased in a way even those who are not ready to hear this may actually understand. Thank you.
Nancy H says
Perfect timing for this post….thanks!
Mimi Matthews Passionista At Large says
Excellent!! Just perfectly written. Thank you. I need to post this on my blog.
Katy | Her Cup of Joy says
I love how honest you are with your daughter. You have a great relationship!
Very interesting read. Thanks.
Right on Sister.
Brilliantly and perfectly stated. Your daughter = the world – is a better place for knowing this. Well done. Amen!
Vickie Burch says
Love it! Thai is so true. You need to read the book: I Thought It Was Just Me, by Brene’ Brown. It’s right on!
Great post, thank you for not being a afraid to speak from the heart.
Shelley Wetton says
What a beautiful post! So well said and expressed. ~Shelley