My view of the world through words & photos
Years ago, when my daughter first started playing soccer, she gave us a wonderful story to share with other parents. She got control of the ball and was working her way down the field toward the goal. She was running and kicking just like their coach had drilled with them for hours in the proceeding week. As she got closer and closer to the goal, we parents kept shouting louder and louder, “Go, Beka, go! Go, Beka, go!”
She came up the field and started to pass us while we cheered and cheered, “Go, Beka, go! Go, Beka, go!” About three feet beyond the parent group, she suddenly stopped. “Beka,” I called. “What’s wrong?” With all the seriousness a five-year-old can present, she put her clenched hands on her hips and shouted at us, “Stop yelling at me!”
A moment of shocked silence was followed by a burst of laughter. It only took four words for our understanding of what this little girl needed to change. We thought we were showing a huge amount of support…she didn’t see it that way at all! And her perception is what counted.
Now that Beka understands why we were yelling at the time, she laughs along with us when the story is told. It did get me thinking, though. How often do we do or say something we think is the right thing to do or say, but it isn’t received or perceived in the spirit in which it was given?
I’m learning with kids, especially teenagers, to take a moment to stop and think about how what I’m going to say may be received. How would I, as a teenager, feel if I heard someone say (fill in the blank). I’m also learning to use this technique with other adults. While I sometimes feel like I’m writing scripts in my head, it has often helped me avoid saying something that might be misinterpreted. (I don’t always succeed, but I think I’m getting better.)
I offer these thoughts because we have been receiving a great deal of comments from friends and family in regard to multiple challenges we’ve been dealing with during the past few years. I have been sharing updates primarily by e-mail and Facebook since our friends and family live all over the country. I try to choose my words carefully because the written word doesn’t have vocal tones to help convey the message (and because I know that anything you say or do nowadays can suddenly go viral). I work hard not to hit that send button until I’ve read something over several times and thought about it from a few different angles.
So here are a few things I’ve learned from being on the receiving end of comments that weren’t well thought out:
Most importantly, do keep them in your thoughts and prayers. It may sound trite, but the power of prayer is an amazing thing. My husband and I have often commented to each other that we can actually feel a positive energy when we know people are praying for us during a particularly challenging time. And we give prayers of thanksgiving for all that we receive.