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.|
|4.||rearing, upbringing, training, education, or the like.|
|5.||development: the nurture of young artists.|
|6.||something that nourishes; nourishment; food.|
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...