Occasionally, I hear this voice. It is a kind voice whose message to me is to notice, to learn, to be mindful and aware of what is really taking place around me. Recently I heard this voice and what I learned is a universal principle we can all benefit from. I’d like to share it with you.
A few weeks ago, my family took a camping trip to Zion National Park. One evening after a delightful time of roasting marshmallows, telling stories and enjoying the campfire my four younger children went into the tent to go to bed. Moments later, their chatter subsided and soon it was quiet. However, there was still a glow of light coming from the tent. Curious as to who was still awake, I took a peek inside the tent. What I saw was not just one light. There were my four youngest children ages 13, 11, 9, and 5 each snuggled in his or her sleeping bag. Each with his or her head lamp or lattern and each intently reading or looking at a book. In this delightful moment, I heard that kind voice say to me, “Notice. There is something good happening in your family.”
We got home from our trip to Zion on Saturday afternoon and reunited with our two older daughters who had stayed home for work and other commitments. On Sunday after church, as is our family tradition, there was a flurry of helping hands in the kitchen to prepare our dinner. Little hands and big joined to set the table. Together, big sister and little brother mashed the potatoes. Mother and daughter chopped fresh vegetables for a tossed salad. Big brother and little sister spooned applesauce into dessert dishes adding a healthy dollop of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg to each one. I found myself noticing what was really happening—the beauty of being together, working, talking, laughing, dealing with a bit of conflict here and there—FAMILY. As we sat and partook of the meal we had created together, there was conversation, questions, telling of stories, sharing of things learned, laughing, and planning for the upcoming week. In this moment I again heard that kind voice say to me, “Notice. There is something good happening in your family.”
In the weeks since I heard that voice, I have taken notice of the many good things that are happening in my family. Some of these are:
- A precious mother/daughter talk.
- Sons mowing the lawn willingly, cheerfully.
- These simple words spoken with earnest intent, “What can I do to help?”
- Bedtime snuggles while Mother reads aloud “Little House in the Big Woods.”
- Contentious brothers guided by an inspired parent into repentance, love, and caring.
- Sweet moments of family prayer.
- A 13 year old son learning to embrace challenge.
- Big sister (age 18) sitting on the couch with little brother (9), little sisters (5 and 15) gathered near to hear her read from Mowgli’s Stories.
By the world’s standards these good things might seem insignificant and unimportant. The world might shout that these “good things” are not where its at—that these don’t equal success. But my kind voice tells me otherwise.
Somewhere inside me there is another voice—one that is not so kind. This voice would have me believe that much is lacking in my home, in my parenting, and in my children. It would have me dwell on what isn’t happening that is “supposed” to be happening. It would have me believe that I am not enough and that my children fall short of the mark. Granted, it is important to improve ourselves, but when we strive to do so from a place of seeing only what is lacking we rob ourselves of the joy and the peace that could be ours. Focusing on what is lacking breeds discouragement, overwhelm, stress and anxiety. This negative focus not only infiltrates our thoughts, but it also makes its way into our language and actions. Then our communications with family members become laden with messages of not being enough.
Focusing on what is good is empowering. It is uplifting and energizing. It brings us to a grounded place from which we can then continue to learn and change. This focus extends to our language and as we notice the good we vocally acknowledge and affirm the efforts of those around us. Simply put, I believe that when we see what is good, acknowledge and affirm it, then we create more good. Positive brings positive. Negative brings negative.
So…what is happening that is good in your family?
I am certain that there is much that is positive and wonderful taking place in your home every day just like it is in my home.
Did you notice? Please notice. There are many good things happening in your family.