Hello, Mini-Women! Okay, are you ready to talk about "why people don't just get along and how they can?" Baby Maeryn is going to help us out with this, as always. What, you may ask, does my eight month old granddaughter know about getting along? Doesn't everybody just automatically love her because she's adorable?
They do, and she is. But as she's becoming a little person, I'm discovering all kinds of things about us bigger people that explain a lot.
For example, she is still a sweet little baby girlfriend (not yet a mini-woman) but she is now at the stage where if you take something from her that she's really into, she will protest. Loudly. And for longer than you can listen to her. Take that cookie on her high chair tray. Doesn't she look exactly like she's saying, "Touch it and you'll draw back a nub." Wednesday I bought her the CUTEST pair of purple boots (she had to have them) which she clung to her in her stroller as she and her mommy and I continued our shopping (there was also an irresistible little red coat involved). When we extracted the boots from her grip to let the guy at the check-out counter scan them, she put up a squawk the yprobably heard two blocks down at Starbucks. She's learning the concept of "mine."
There is nothing wrong with "mine" at its heart. I mean, for Pete's sake, she IS only a little baby. She gets concerned when HER mom leaves the room. And when the miniature dachshund at her house steals HER graham cracker. And when she drops HER sippy cup over the side of the high chair. It's all natural.
When we get older than Maeryn, "mine" can be a little more obnoxious. Every one of us probably grabbed a toy out of some kid's hand on a play date, or made a beeline for the most coveted tricycle on the playground at day care or preschool. We had to be taught to share so we wouldn't wind up in fifth or sixth grade randomly taking other people's backpacks, lunches, homework. That, in fact, is where the up side of "mine" comes in. If you know that sandwich is yours, you aren't going to let somebody lift it off of your tray without at least making a grab for it. If we didn't have a sense of ownership about certain things, this world would be in a state of what we call anarchy, where it's every man (and girl) for himself/herself.
It would be nice if everybody knew what was their own and left everybody else's stuff alone. It would be better than nice, it would be great! Can you imagine a world where you didn't have to memorize a locker combination? Where you could ride your bike anywhere you wanted to by yourself or with your friends because your parents wouldn't be worried that somebody was going to steal YOU? Where you could just be who you are and nobody would try to take THAT away from you?
Unfortunately, it isn't that kind of world overall. There are small places in your life where you can trust the people around you -- or at least I hope that for you. But there are still a lot of people who don't respect the boundaries of what's mine and what's yours. There have always been people like that, which is why six of the Ten Commandments are about not taking other's people stuff (including their lives, their wives, their reputations, or their honor) -- and not even THINKING about doing it. The other four commandments remind us not to try to take any of GOD's stuff either -- God's place as the only god, God's name, or God's day.
Yeah, and then basically the rest of the Old Testament is stories of people ignoring those boundaries and suffering.the consequences.
That's the basic problem with getting along, isn't it? People are so worried about "mine" -- people trying to take what's mine, people telling me what's mine really isn't mine, people making fun of what's mine, me wishing what other people had was mine. If you think about your issues with friends, family members, and people you have to be around even though you wouldn't be friends with them if you were the last few people on the planet -- most of them are probably caused by a "mine" attitude.
For example, if you're best friends with a girl, and then a new girl moves to your school or church and you like her too and want to include her in things you and your BFF are doing and (big breath) your BFF says, "No. I don't like her. She smells funny or something," you have a "mine" situation on your hands. New Girl really doesn't smell weird. BFF just considers you to be HERS, and she's threatened by this new person who might take away some of your attention, which BFF believes belongs to her.
Or let's say there's a boy in your class or homeschool co-op who seems to have made it his new career to make fun of you whenever possible. You raise your hand to answer a question and he holds his nose like some gross aroma is coming out of your armpit. You laugh and he imitates you like a crazed hyena. You sneeze and he dives under his desk like there's a hurricane going through. He isn't JUST being an absurd little creep (although that's certainly part of it because that's the way many mini-men are). He thinks one of two things: (A) you have something he thinks should be HIS, and that is your attention or (B) you are a threat to HIS secure feeling that he is in control of everybody.
If you want to post today, share with us one issue you have with somebody that, at the root it, is a "Mine" situation gone all weird. (And don't ignore the possibility that you could be the one, or one of the ones, saying, "Mine!")
But let's not stop there. Let's look at a couple of ways that you can deal with the "mine" factor.
(1) See if you can figure out what's REALLY yours and yours alone. I'm not talking about your toothbrush, your underwear, or your pre-algebra homework. I'm thinking of the things about you that nobody should mess with because they are so you. Maybe it's how sensitive you are. Or how curious. Could be your right-out-there personality, or your hang-back-and-observe-first way of entering a situation. It may also be your faith in God, your special approach to prayer, or even your need to really question things with Jesus when you two are hanging out in quiet time. There are some things no one should be able to take away from you. It's important to know what those things are. You can even share them with us if you want to.
(2) Now think about the things you don't want to live without, but you could if you had to, really. Your status as the girl everybody likes? Always being the leader, even in your small group of friends? Being the smartest? The best at something? Or maybe it's harder to put into words. Maybe you get a lot of mileage out of being the youngest in the family. Or feeling like maybe you're the favorite. Or pretty much getting your own way if you whine enough. Or even the rush you get out of being mad or arguing or slamming your door. Those are the things that have become you because you put them there, (or someone else did) but they aren't really YOU. Things that you can't really say about them: This is mine. I need to fight for it. If you want to share any of those, we would love to hear.
(3) Now look at that "mine" situation you're in with somebody. Does your stand in the conflict come from somebody trying to make you give up something in (1) or in (2)? If it's (1) -- if someone is trying to take away or put down or mess with something that is really yours, really you, that's a stand worth taking. Hold on and don't back down. (We'll talk about the best way to do that in our next post.) If it's (2) however, is it really worth hanging onto and risking losing a friendship or creating drama?
For example, let's say you are all kinds of outgoing and fun and crazy in a good way with your friend when the two of you are alone, and she really seems to love that about you. But when some other girls are around -- maybe a little older or more sophisticated -- your friend acts like you're being a idiot and rolls her eyes. She even whisks you off to the bathroom with her and tells you to stop being so immature. Changing your very cool and fun self for her is not okay. The right to be exactly who you are is very much yours and it's worth standing up for, worth saying, "You like me just fine this way when it's just us. Besides, I don't have any other real selves. Do you?"
On the other hand, suppose you are the girl everybody goes to with their problems because you always make them feel better. Most people totally love you for that. It's like your identity. Then someone comes to you talking trash about somebody else, wanting you to agree because that will make them feel good about themselves. If you do pretend to agree, that person goes away feeling all right, and you've saved your reputation as the ONE EVERYBODY CAN TURN TO. But then the girl that person was putting down comes to you and has some pretty ugly things to say about that other person. If you're going to keep on being the ONE, you'll have to lie to this girl, too. Uh-oh. Your rep as the ONE isn't worth hanging onto because it isn't really yours -- it isn't really YOU (it isn't really anybody ALL the time!) This situation calls for: "I know this isn't going to make you feel good, but I have to say it: you two need to talk this out between yourselves. This isn't my business." You might lose that reputatiobn, but remember, it wasn't really yours in the first place.
If you can see how that approach might fit the "mine" situation you're sharing, fill us in on how that might work. After all, as sisters in Christ, we're all in this together.
As I said, more next post on the best ways to keep what's yours and be willing to let go of what isn't. And we do have a quiz coming up. Plus -- don't forget to email me friendship verses (to firstname.lastname@example.org) and post ideas here for a friendship craft and to look for that great pumpkin recipe -- all in preparation for our on-line, live blog party in just TWO WEEKS! Can't wait!