I listened to a mom today tell of a time not so long ago when she and her daughter were not getting along. A long-simmering unspoken argument turned into a loud, heated word-fight in a public place. “I hate you! You never listen! You don’t care what I want! Nothing’s ever good enough for you!” were the words her child screamed that day. Instead of shouting back, the words of her child wounded her heart and she realized; “I might actually lose my daughter if I don’t start doing things differently.” Over the next several weeks she discovered that what her daughter said in an anger tirade was true. This mom was pushing her too much, not letting her discover herself, applying too much pressure on things which weren’t that important. In short, she was trying to make her daughter into what she thought she should be and not allowing her daughter to find herself.
Wisdom tells us that when we attempt to control others, make them presentable to us, what we think is best, we end up either chasing them away or killing the spirit within. Truly loving someone is allowing them to grow, make mistakes, choose different paths, free of our judgment and disapproval. It’s letting them be and loving them.
This morning, on my way to an appointment, I was driving and approached a side road with a truck and car stopped. At my speed and proximity to both vehicles, I figured they would wait until I passed. The truck began pulling out in front of me and I immediately took my foot off the gas and thought; “You don’t have a lot of room there friend!” I slid my foot back to the gas pedal because there was no way the car would go…it did! “Not smart!” I thought as I hit the brake with my foot and the horn with my hand. What he did wasn’t safe and I wanted him to know I was not happy. I don’t blow the horn often simply because you don’t know what people will do. I’ve seen too many news reports of road rage and you take a chance each time you honk your disapproval at someone’s driving. I watched to make sure the driver wouldn’t turn around but I’m not sure he even knew what he did wrong.
Continuing down the road I reflected on the need for honking, the need for all of us to be told when we do something wrong, unsafe, not smart. Similar to hesitating to honk we are often too timid, concerned with the other’s reaction, offending and ticking off the receiver to give a reprimand when it’s appropriate.
The truth is that each of us makes mistakes, could do a better job at times, don’t look before we leap, and need to be held accountable for the consequences of our decisions. It’s never fun to realize we did something wrong. Too often we equate mistakes and missteps with failure. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Correction, discipline aren’t meant to keep us from trying again but to teach us a better way so that we can succeed the next time.
I have to admit, I thought this was funny and inside of me an attitude of; “that’s what the driver deserved!” It’s a needed lesson for this young man and couldn’t be easy to learn in such a way with many people looking on, laughing, cheering, yelling at him.
I then thought; “what if all my mistakes were so public? What if every time I made a bad choice, a wrong decision, it was being recorded and a put on large display, which made everyone look at me, see my lack of wisdom and knowledge?” I wouldn’t like it. I would be embarrassed. I would hopefully never make the same misjudgment again but the shame of how I learned would be with me for a very long time.
A wise sage once said; “Praise in public, correct in private. This is how wisdom is best gained.”