I’m the youngest of five children. If you’re wondering if I was babied, the answer is heck yes. After all, I had up to six grown people looking after or at me at any given time.
Everyone knows the youngest child is indulged, pampered, and spoiled in ways that others are not. I once read that by experiencing so much attention from others, youngest children usually grow up expecting good things from life and therefore tend to be optimists rather than negative-thinking people. That is so me!
That’s how I turned out, at least. The world wasn’t any kinder to me as a kid than it is to anyone. I had some tough early years, and I wasn’t much of an optimist in my youth.
Confession time. This may gross you out, but it’s part of my story, so I need to share it. As a child I had a condition called enuresis. I was a bed-wetter. Actually I was a pants, shorts, bed, sleeping bag, whatever wetter. And I didn’t think it was a coincidence that enuresis was pronounced a lot like you’re-a-sissy, because that’s what I felt like. It was horrible. I could be anywhere at any time and all of the sudden realize that whatever I was wearing just turned into a swimsuit.
Those were shameful, embarrassing years. I kept to myself and stayed very quiet in school classrooms to avoid any attention for fear my classmates would notice. Some kids really were cruel.
Lucky for me, I had a best friend. Someone I could trust. Someone who knew the real person inside me. Her name was Darlene, but I just called her Mom. She was my angel on earth—the one who always loved me no matter how often my accidents would happen. Just being around her, I became special.
She did with me what she did with all the other kids. She developed and perfected three lines of code that, although not scientifically proven, I know for a fact were keys to helping me through some very difficult times. They probably even healed me. It’s pretty complicated, so you might want to write them down. Here they are:
Bless your heart.
I love you.
Oh, my mom might have seemed like your average 70s polyester-pants-wearing mother, but I think she secretly has a Ph.D in parenting.
Mom would take me into her arms and say, “I’m sorry.” This was always her first reaction when any of her kids felt sad. The word sorry comes from sore, meaning to suffer. I knew she could literally feel my pain.
Then she followed it up with, “Bless your heart.” A heart, the very organ that sustains life, the spot where we feel our emotions, really does need to be blessed when wounded or broken.
Finally, after I had been heard and healed, I was reassured that I was loved. She would look me in the eyes and tell me.
They say it’s impossible to be a perfect mother, but there’s a million ways to be a good one. To mine, I wish a blessed heart for all the good she continues to do. I wish her love from me. And I’m sorry about all the extra laundry.
And to all moms, I hope you know that your own unique code language is noticed. All those reassurances you give so automatically really do replace heartache with belonging. You are creating confidence.
Bless all your hearts.
Recently I was in line at the airport waiting to go through security when two gentlemen stepped out of line behind me and moved over into the express lane. The guy in front of me turned his head and said, “Hey, where are they going?” I said, “They must be in first class on their flight so they get the shorter line.” He then turned back around and said, “Well, I don’t need a line to define me.”
I smiled and didn’t say anything. But for the rest of that flight I kept asking myself, What defines me? I thought about what someone could discover about me if they were to find my wallet. Would its contents provide enough evidence to define who I am?
My wallet contains my driver’s license, some pictures, my brief goal list, various credit and membership cards, some cash, and a few business cards. Hmm. OK, what if you got a hold of my iPhone? Would that do it?
On my phone, you would see lots more pictures even a few videos, my journal notes, various apps that interest me, books I’m reading, and some recent texts and e-mail conversations. Would that be enough to define me? Probably more than my beat-up brown wallet.
How do you define a person? If we’re not careful, we could fall into the trap of thinking monetary accomplishment defines who we are. We tend to focus on the clothes we wear, the car we drive, or the home we live in. Is that all there is to it?
What about our past? A lot of people would think we are the sum total of all our experiences. Does our past really define us? Should it?
I remember hearing someone once say, “All that I am is everything I’m going after.” I love that answer. To me, that means the past does not equal the future. We’re never stuck. This very moment is full of wonderful opportunities to become whatever we want to be.
What are you going after? Think about what really, really, deep-down matters to you. Go after that. Let that define you.
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