Be sure you know the source of the labels you wear

Have you ever identified with a fable or an old folk tale and been surprised by a flash of insight into your life? I have. I think this might be one of those.    

Blog  Hen  Chicks 3. 2.21

The story goes that somehow an eagle's egg got mixed in with the chicken eggs in a nest.

The mama hen seemed not to notice. To her an egg was an egg. Period.

So she sat contentedly on her nest, waiting for THE day her eggs would hatch.  

Finally, the time was right. In short order the chicks pecked their shells open and emerged looking a bit wobbly and confused, as is the way of baby chicks.

So did the fluffy, newly hatched eaglet, who looked around at the only world he knew, the world of chickens. So he walked like a chicken and ate what his chicky siblings ate and minded his own chicky business. 

A grove of nearby trees towered into the skies and a pair of American eagles nested there. The growing eaglet often stopped scratching in the dirt to watch them come and go. He never tired of seeing those big birds circling overhead, their wide wings outstretched. Higher and higher they soared.

The eaglet thought, Oh, what it would be like to fly way up high like that? If only I could! But ... I could never fly like that, not me.  It's like Mama always tells me, "You're just a chicken, so don't even try. Just be happy as you are."

The young eagle tried, really he did, but he knew he didn't fit in, what with his long, gangly legs and that bulky body. He felt he didn't belong in that flock of chickens who spent their days scratching in the dirt. As Mama often said, that's what chickens do, so why wasn't that enough for him? 

That left only one possibility: It had to be his fault.

No wonder he often asked himself, What's wrong with me? Why can't I be like the others and be happy? 

After awhile the young eagle didn't even bother to look up. He gave up wishing for more and lived out his days with the chickens, never knowing he could fly.

What's more, he never even tried. Why bother? After all, his mama always told him he could not fly ....

Here's the point for you and me 

Even when we're unaware of it, we each carry around old labels and messages that still influence how we see ourselves today.

If you doubt that, take a mental inventory. Think back to what your parents or teachers--or siblings--told you about you. Which messages helped you? Which ones do you still try to erase from that nagging sound track in your mind?

See what I mean?

View those memories from a different angle

Find a time to unpack those old messages and look at them with your present perspective. Not many of us grew up with abusive parents or in an extremely dysfunctional family. That makes it likely your parents loved you--at least in their minds.

Why not be kind and assume that what they said to you and how they parented you probably was the best they knew how to do at the time?

Instead of looking for reasons why somebody said this or that, why not let it go?

With that shift in place, you can choose to consider such incidents--whether once in awhile or a pattern--as part of your past but irrelevant to the person you are today.

What if it still hurts and no one seems to care?

First ask yourself if it's possible such things could serve as some sort of comfort, as if with that in place you know who you are.

This may sound illogical, but chew on it for awhile.

Counselors report they spot that frequently. For example, children of alcoholics "see themselves" as powerless to avoid addiction to alcohol. Why? Because that's what they grew up with, so for them, it's "normal."

Substitute whatever dysfunction you may have grown up around and ask yourself if someplace deep inside, you consider that to be your "natural fate."

Then ask yourself what sense it makes to stay stuck in old, dead-end thinking. 

Start where you are and choose the better way  

Those remarks that do not now (and perhaps never did) fit you? Decide to let them go and not dwell on them in the future. As that gets easier, they gradually will fade away. 

Every time they resurface, don your "forgiveness filter" and substitute remembrances that make you smile.  

Now take a fresh look at the adult you are today. Think about your life and the good qualities you know are present within you. Write them down so you can refer to it when old doubts resurface.   

One thing more

Our children, whether our own or those we're around frequently, carry our words with them, too. For life.

News flash: Neither you nor I is perfect.

It's still good advice to "Think before you speak," even--or especially--with those we love.

Although we love our kids and do our best to parent wisely, inevitably, sometimes our words will sting and bother them, whether they're young or well into adulthood.  

Some of us have learned to first ask ourselves, "Will my words bless or burn, now and in the future?"

Good words

Frequently name the good qualities you see in those you love. Let them know you're proud of them. Praying for them. Ready to talk any time.  

Promise yourself that from now on your children will hear only words that bless them every time they recall what you said. Ask God to give you wisdom--and possibly, restraint--to do so.

Does this mean you never can voice an opinion? No. Having a solid foundation of love and mutual respect between you builds trust and loving openness. Just tread softly.

As always, the Bible points out the better way to live

Whether within your family or as an individual, here are three helps for all of us:    

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:13

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly since love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

In Jesus, in love, it's never too late to make a new start.  

From one still learning, here's to growing in love,

Lenore


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