Monday, November 16, 2009

unwrapping perspective



Not long ago, a friend called my attention to a short article written by John Stumbo, a pastor who attended our church for a season. It was about life-shaping metaphors--mental pictures that can motivate or immobilize us. Some mental pictures do not inspire or motivate us, but actually drain our energy.

Hmmm. I knew I needed to think about this. Drained of energy sounded familiar. What mental images are shaping my life?

Trying my best to be honest with myself, I discovered I was viewing my role at home as a task-master. With a family that copes with ADD, busyness, and recessive slob-genes--on my good days I am focusing on staying on task and keeping the rest of us on task as well. When I let up--everyone seems to, and chaos ensues. We have a family manual (seriously. think what you want, you are probably right.) that has checklists of daily routines in it. A morning, afternoon and bedtime routine for each of us. Whether we like them or not, they really help us--we all acknowledge it. Also in the manual are our "Super Saturday Jobs" we each do over the weekend to pitch in on the general chores of keeping a home. Again, my job is to make sure noone "forgets" to do their part. A task-master.

Bubba tackling a Saturday job

And being brutally honest, not just any task master--but one whose unstated goal was to get everyone (including myself) doing their thing efficiently, so that more time would be left for me to pursue my own interests. Not really who I hope to be as a wife and mom.

So, what is a more empowering mental picture for my role in my family? Hmmm. Who do I really want to be, what do I see as my role particularly as a mom? The word that came to mind is nurturer. I want to nurture my family...encourage, support, and challenge them. Ensure they have nutritious meals, clean clothes and a good night's sleep most of the time. I want to nurture my kids to become faithful, thoughtful, considerate, relatively-disciplined individuals who are armed with all they need to affect the world in the name of Christ. I don't want them to be crippled by hyper-criticism in the name of "teaching", nor do I want them to be coddled to the point of becoming entitled and lazy. Where is that balance? Nurture.

Nurture is defined as:
–verb (used with object)
1.to feed and protect: to nurture one's offspring.
2.to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians.
3.to bring up; train; educate.
–noun
4.rearing, upbringing, training, education, or the like.
5.development: the nurture of young artists.
6.something that nourishes; nourishment; food.

(from www.dictionary.com)

Yes, Nurture(r) is the right word. It contains both support and challenge. It's a much more positive way to view myself in my role. When I picture myself as a nurturer...I picture myself training, not enforcing; discussing more and commanding less; and giving lots of hugs and praise and care.

You might be thinking...who cares how you view yourself, it's how you act that affects others. You're right, but I find that changing my mental picture of my role results in acting accordingly. I'm more patient, more encouraging, less cranky and focused on my family instead of myself. And I find I read more with Bubba and giggle more with Pickle...among other things. :0) When I find myself slipping back into the selfish task-master mode...it is a pretty good indication that all is not right in my inner world. Time to slow down, reflect and refocus.

Because I can't nurture them if I don't allow myself to be nurtured by the One who nurtures me.

What mental picture is behind what you do? I'd love to hear your insight...

16 comments:

||| laura frantz ||| said...

Wow, what a thought-provoking post. Thanks for inspiring me to get my nurture on.

Beth said...

This is an incredible post, even though I've already heard these thoughts from you. I'll have to think about what I think my role is (and then about what it should actually be....) and then maybe we could have a diet coke/gingerbread latte date and talk about it. :)

Dawn said...

i'd like to be a nurturer, too. i've been trying... but i'd like my tasks to be done while i am nurturing! balance? i'm trying to figure it all out... just like you.

A Little Of This And That said...

Dawn, this is a beautiful post. I thought of the Scripture that says, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Creating the mental image of what you want to be is key to becoming it. My nurturing days of children are over, but to be a nurturer is still something I want to be... that and a helpmate to my husband. Thanks for this wonderful insight into your world, and for the inspiration to check how we view ourselves.

chris said...

Can the Holy Spirit use daughter #1 to convict her mother?

YUP! Great post honey!

I came across this quote by Chuck Swindoll on another blog (sorry, I can't remember where) and I think our mental image of ourselves and our attitude are closely related.
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”

Kelli said...

Thank you, thank you for writing on this subject!! You are so right about our mental images and how they affect our attitude!!! I have never actually looked up the definition of nurturer and I'm glad you did. Powerful post!!!

Richella said...

I really like this post.

Our pastor is preaching a series right now about loving. We are starting a new church, and part of our mission is to "love people well, as Jesus did." The assertion of these sermons is that, in order to love well, we need to be well-loved. He's trying to get us to see that that's how God loves us.

You'd better believe our mental images affect our behavior. I think you're on the right track as you picture yourself as nurturer. Good for you.

Corinne said...

I could not agree more w/ the mental images helping to shape our attitude. It seems like where it starts, if you can put a positive spin on things it makes all the difference. Nurturer is much more positive (to me) thank Task Manager ;)

Dale said...

I've been pondering similar thinks. My quote for the week is, "We are what we believe we are." (C. S. Lewis). So simple, so profound.

PS I love your shower curtain! :)

togetherforgood said...

You've given me something to think about this morning. I think I might need another cup of coffee . . . :) Seriously, I struggle to be a nurturer. I am such a selfish person by nature.

Get Real Girl said...

I struggle with being a nurturer. I am really pondering this post. Thanks for making me think harder about this role.

adornedlife said...

this "lady with a headache" (ha!ha!) is taking this to heart! it is spot-on, my friend. thank you!

karen gerstenberger said...

Thank you for your kind comment on my posting at Blissfully Domestic. Your words encourage me.

You have a lovely blog and I like your point of view. Looking forward to reading more!

Blessings to you and your family.

Chrissy said...

Great post! You have a great blog!

Thanks for visiting my blog yesterday! I hope you'll come back to see me again sometime! Have a great rest of the day! :]

Melinda said...

Awesome post, Dawn! I so relate. I had ADD issues in my house as well and I also feel like if I let up around here, the whole family life falls apart. And you really hit me between the eyes when you said you did it because you wanted more time to pursue your own interests. Ouch. That hurt.

I want to be a nurturer, too. Thanks for giving me a healthier mental picture to focus on today.

Your blog is just getting better and better ... ;0)

llutze said...

I share your thoughts. Something, too, that is important to me is having FUN in life. Lots of it. My blog is dedicated to fun because I think sometimes adults take life way toooooooo seriously. So here's to fun on SITS Saturday...... xoxo

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