Friday, October 17, 2014

Bullying Unaware

In today's hyper-sensitive awareness to bullying, it surprises me how much I see it happening daily.  I think we are all very aware of the bullying that occurs when words are used to tear each other down, or when actions are used to make someone feel bad about themselves.  The bullying I am talking about is that of absence - an absence of inclusion, an absence of caring, an absence of reaching out.

We've all been in situations where we feel excluded.  It may be as simple as being left out of a conversation, or feeling awkward in a room where everyone else seems to be in on something you are not, or even just feeling like you are present but everyone else seems to think you are invisible.  Putting it simply - It's not a good feeling!

What makes the difference in a circumstance like that?  All of us know, because all of us have been rescued by some sweet, caring soul who has reached out.  He/she took a moment to acknowledge our presence, to come say something/anything, to let us know that we were noticed and wanted. It sounds easy enough, yet it takes awareness.  It takes effort to notice someone feeling this way, and commit to making it different for them.

We often hear the story of the Good Samaritan and we wag our heads in disbelief.  How could that priest or the child of God, Levite walk by...completely ignoring, pretending not to see or have the time to help?  Yet, how many times have we sat in our seats, knowing there was someone who needed a "hello" or conversed in a room full of people and been too busy to reach out to the uncomfortable.  This omission of kindness should shame us.

I've been on both sides of this. I've been the one feeling ostracized and I've been the one too wrapped up in myself and my conversation to go out of the way for someone hurting.  I've also seen it happening to my own children.  I don't like it, and I'd love to rescue them from it, but it is true that character can be built and trained from uncomfortable circumstances such as this.  Instead of fueling their hurt and anxiety from being left out or uninvited, I try to encourage them to be that much more aware of others struggling with the same feelings and learn to reach out, to remember how it felt when they were the one and to make it their mission to rescue a kindred spirit.  If only we can take a second to look around a room, it is obvious who needs our attention.  It may not be in our comfort-zone to go sit with them, or invite them over, but every single bit helps and the more we do it, the more comfortable we will be with it.

Please take a moment to think of those who are looking over with longing eyes, reach out to them in even the tiniest of ways.  It won't only help them feel better, but you may make an amazing friendship you would have completely missed out on.  Yes, enjoy your friends, fellowship with your brothers and sisters, but welcome others (even if you don't think they want it); it can only do good.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Living in Fear

I'm obsessed with safety.  Ever since becoming a mom, I have developed this keen sense of awareness for anything that has potential to be dangerous.  Sharp objects, no railings, careless behavior, illnesses, and stranger-danger put me on high alert non-stop.  I strive for a good balance of not being overly parental but cautious....I don't put my kids in a bubble, although there are times I've been tempted.  I thank God every night that I am able to tuck those kiddoes into bed, and every morning I wake to their smiles.  Another day survived...success!

Though recently, it seems like every where I turn dangers are threatening.  We recently completed a series of camping trips where I was definitely on edge.  Admittedly, sleeping in the wild is a bit out of my comfort zone.   I feel like I have to detach from my brain to survive the trip, otherwise the only words out of my mouth are "Stay away from the fire.  Watch out for spiders, snakes, and scorpions.  Don't go too far; stay where I can see you," and the list goes on exponentially.  In spite of all my cautionary warnings, still someone ended up picking up a glowing rock that fell out of the fire, someone nearly stepped on a scorpion barefoot, and a pair of children's pants will forever be lost to cactus quills.  Even with all of the dangers out there, a good time was had by all and precious memories will be carried with them throughout their lives.

Now even back in my home-sweet-home, I am faced with constant warnings of danger.  All I see is Ebola, Paralyzing Eterovirus, and Child Predators.  It is freaking me out!  I want to go into hibernation mode, and take my family with me into hiding.  Yet, I know this is no way to live.

How do we balance being aware with living in fear?  Where is the line drawn between being careless and being wisely cautious?   Surely the answers can be found in the Good Book.

Our wise all-knowing Parent sends us reminders:
- "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul."
- "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
- "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

His list of warnings and comforts goes on and on.  Although I still long for health and safety for these precious ones bestowed to my care, I know that He has us all in his hands.  Even though I'm not leaving home without our hand-cleaner and Thieves oil,  I trust Him.  He knows the end of the matter, and He promises that all will be well in the end, if we are true and faithful.  I pray He helps me remember the big picture and thank Him for his amazing grace.