Long way home

Everyday I go the back way home. The route consists of winding roads and views of distant mountains, of creeks meandering through fields and cows quietly grazing. From the time I pass through the last traffic light to the time I get home, the views help me decompress a bit. There’s usually a ‘grande finale’ of sorts as I turn onto my road. There is a field on the corner that changes daily depending on the weather, the crop being harvested, or the time of day or night. I love the way the wide open spaces make the view all the more beautiful, like an evolving masterpiece right before my eyes.

More and more in my life I am seeing the need to step back and take in the views around me.

I work with students who have a wide variety of intense needs. Some have deficits in their ability to learn and perform academically. Others have some serious emotional needs which translate into some difficult days of trying to help them cope and adapt to life in the school setting. As the schools are dealing with budget cuts and greater demands, seems as though there’s a daily urgency about one thing or another. I love my job, but some days, that urgency to feel like there’s always so much more to be done than can be done can get to be a bit overwhelming.

That’s part of the reason why I am so aware of my need to just step back and breathe in. With my students, I’ve learned that reacting precipitates big storms…and time and space can do wonders for grabbing a bit of perspective in the midst of a crazy moment. Stepping back, listening, thinking, and just not feeling the pressure to momentarily respond with all of the right answers can make all the difference in arriving at a good place for all parties involved.

When I was a young mom, I so felt the need to have all the right answers. I also believed that things had to be handled RIGHT THEN. I know with little ones, they need to associate the behavior with the consequence, so it’s important to respond swiftly. But as children get older, think time can be a good thing and wonderful teaching tool. So often I would put pressure on myself to come up with a plan or a consequence quickly, rather than taking time to let the conscience work a bit in my own children, and then respond once I had thought things through. I sometimes drew lines in the sand that I wish I hadn’t drawn, and a little bit of ‘think time’ could have made all the difference in the world.

In the work place, in marriage, in family situations, I’m learning to step back. I’m learning to look and listen more intently. I need wisdom and to pray things through before immediately responding to some of the things that are right there. And in this instantaneous, fast, get it right now society, my students and my own children can benefit from having some time to reflect on things. We need to teach our children to think, to reflect rather than merely reacting and responding without processing things first. Equipping them to be reflective responders rather than knee-jerk reactors will be a tool that will be a gift to them and those around them in a world that is so in need of those who are not reactionary.

So here’s the thing. I’m learning. But more than anything, I’m learning to not put pressure on myself to respond with all of the right answers at any given moment. I was so 20 for so long! But I’m so aware that I do not have all of the right answers now. And that is so okay. Being a mom to my very different kids has taught me that, not to mention being the wife to my oh-so-opposite-of-me husband! (Yep, I could write books on that one!) I so don’t have all the answers and I never will. But, thankfully, I know Who does. Amen to that. I just need to take a step back and ask Him to help me in the minutes and moments that I’m in.

So, stepping back is a good thing. Just as seeing the wide open spaces of the field allow me to enjoy the beauty, stepping back to get perspective can help me to enter into the moment in a whole different way. Things are not always as urgent as they seem and we need to remind ourselves of that. It’s so ironic. Taking a step back can help me to be totally present and be “all-in” in a whole different way! I love that. Amazing how when you don’t feel the pressure to know it all, you can look others in the eyes and take it all in in a whole different way. So ironically, stepping back often allows me to be going all in in a whole different way. Here’s to being “all-in” by stepping back. Enjoy the views because moments matter…

I love that God’s ways are simple. Here are a few verses on wisdom.

“Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere/” (James 3:17)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)