One of the things we've been talking about around our house of late is mind-sight.
Mind-sight has a little something to do with the way our minds picture situations. With me it can range from the way I see myself as I sing (or possibly dance) along with a song in the car (in my head I look good) to the way I can feel SO less-than when I've forgotten to look at Attire on an invite and show up casual to a business-attire event (in Dallas, business often means cocktail). My mind can trick me with with messages about identity and self worth that may or may not be true. (But, for the record, my singing/dancing in the car looks good -- unless you ask the kids.)
Apparently, I'm not alone with mind-sight challenges.
Yesterday, when dropping off my first stop at school, I said these simple words, "Wow, we got here in great time." Because we had. Without speeding or any quick-stops, I made it to the carpool line with time to spare. By luck, we had made every light.
But what I said and what a kid in the back-seat heard were two very different things.
His response to my simple observation was: "IT'S NOT MY FAULT I COULDN'T FIND MY SHORTS!"
"WHY IS EVERYONE MAD AT ME?!"
"Wait," I stop him before a waterfall of excuses fills the car. "What did you hear me say?"
"You said that we were late because of me and that everyone is mad."
"We're not late and no one is mad -- I promise."
Here's where mind-sight comes into play. What he heard wasn't close to what I said. He heard an indictment on his character when I was simply commenting on how we weren't going to be late.
I had no idea what was racing through his head, but I'm sure the thoughts were loud. Apparently, he had been frantically searching for his shorts and was super stressed about making everyone late. As the other kids walked out the door, his stress ballooned because if we don't leave by a certain time (7:32), the domino affect means that our last drop-off will likely be tardy.
"I didn't even know you were racing for the car -- let alone stressed about being late," I assured him. "I was just commenting about our luck in making every light."
His mind had told him a story. He took the bait hook, line & sinker. His version convinced him that we would be late, he was at fault and -- the clincher -- that he was a loser. At least that's how his mind saw it.
Mind-sight tends to gently nudge our thoughts to go negative. But, rarely is mind-sight 20/20.
Lysa TerKeurst, author of a new NYT bestselling book titled Uninvited - Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely, shared a little about our mental story-telling when we chatted with us last week on Say Something (a-come-as-you-are vodcast for walking life's roads.)
Here's what she had to say as it related to a lovely Jr. High experience where not only was everyone invited to a party -- except for her -- they had matching pink t-shirts that they wore to school and into the carpool that took them to the party:
We all have a story. And we all have a story we tell ourselves.
So the story that day was -- she (the birthday girl) probably just didn't even think I was close enough friends with her to invite me to the birthday party, end of story.
But the story I was telling myself is: I'm never going to be good enough. Like I'm always going to have to navigate this feeling of being slightly left out, slightly forgotten or being completely overlooked.
She brought the story into today's terms with social media and all that can fake-remind and instantly transport us to our Jr. High insecurities (usually a flesh-wound away) and the inevitable question -- Am I good enough?
THEN, Lysa landed here:
Why in the world do I keep asking myself, "Am I good enough?" Because, God never intended me to just be good enough. God intended me to be better than that.
The good news -- we're not alone.
I could relate to the kid in my car and the countless times I see and hear differently than what is actually being said. Maybe that's part of the answer. When we can't see reality quite as it is, a friend walking alongside (even if that friend comes in the form of a mother) can help with focus. Sometimes we need help to see beyond a moment and to put into perspective not only what is real, but also what is important.
Because, even if the stop-light timing had not been on our side, a tardy isn't the end of the world. In fact, sometimes life's tardies can offer opportunity. Tardy-kid can learn how to consider the other riders by gathering his things the night before (which he almost always does) and late-kid can learn to be kind and considerate by putting herself in his shoes. All of which will help them in the future as they get to practice prying their eyes off themselves and opting for a little compassion.
As is usually the case, it applies to me, too. Though a reminder might sting in the moment, I relish sight-adjustments my friends (and kids) send my way. Lots of freedom tends to be on the other side.
For more from Lysa, here's a link to the kitchen-chat from our rag-tag production team: