Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sheep M: Is the grass always greener?

     As the year draws to a close, I've been drafting letters to my children.  I say drafting because I want to write freely and then re-read what I've written to make sure that the words I say are uplifting and not condemning.  I, in no way, want to hand them something that makes them feel like they've missed the mark or that I expect a level of performance from them.  They are each so unique, wonderful and special. I feel honored to know them and be a part of their lives. That, more than anything else, is what I want to convey to them.

     Each letter is as unique as the child for whom it is meant. Yet I see a pattern emerge as the letters reach their final draft. As I speak of their strengths and struggles from the past year, I also caution them.  Asking that they examine all things. Test each encounter-be it with a person, book, idea, etc.  There is so much information available to children today. To all of us actually, that I feel it's important to just stop every once and awhile and sift through the wheat and chaff.  Keep and hold fast to those things that lead to the best life has to offer. Let go of that which ensnares and weighs you down. For each of us, those categories will be different.

     How exactly does that lead to questioning fences? The adage that the grass is always greener? Without giving away too many details, my adult child has struggled in this area this past year. Sheep C and S have patiently listened to me pour out my despair at the choices made by this child.  I'm not talking about right or wrong, but choices that have run contrary to what I've tried to instill in all my children.  At one point, I found peace in releasing this child to be an adult. It was no longer my job or responsibility to 'fix' whatever was going on. 

     So as I wrote to this particular child, I found my mind wandering to those choices I'd made at 18, 20, 25, 38, 40... How and why I'd made them. The rebellion in my own past and my 'return' to the flock.  Why do we have fences, rules,etc?  I can tell you that the younger me thought it was all a vicious plot to keep me from having fun.  I just knew that if only I could (fill in the blank) I would be so much happier and life would be wonderful.  It didn't quite work out that way, but that yearning to get outside of the norm, to be free, spurred me in many directions that weren't always the best for me. Even now, I am still having to 'unlearn' the lessons learned outside the flock.

     I've come to appreciate fences. Not as means to keep me from fun, but as loving boundaries that give me opportunities to grow. Inside the fence, I don't have to be in control. I can relax knowing that the One who set up the boundary is watching over me, protecting me.

     This is a facile example, but one that makes the point. We all teach our children to not play in the street. Simple-yet by setting up that rule, we've somehow made the street a fascinating place.  I can't even count the number of times I've made mad dashes to get to my children before they could step foot in the street! Why did we make the rule in the first place? To rob the child of fun? NO! To give them the chance to grow older, a chance at life.

     So too are the fences in my own life. Yes, they at times offer a form of restriction, but in the end, they have been the means to a fuller life. I've jump quite a few only to find that the greener grass was simply astro-turf or that the once beautiful, sunny path entered a dark wood just out of sight.  

     At the end of another year, this blind sheep appreciates the boundaries that make it possible to enjoy my current life. I'm old enough to know that what I have today may not last until tomorrow. So I am thankful! -Sheep M 12/28/08

And for those who care to know, my child is returning to the flock. Aware now that I wasn't trying to control  life, but enhance it.


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