Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When Doing Nothing is Actually Something

I’ve just finished reading Kathi Lipp’s new book I Need Some Help Here. I had the privilege of contributing a “Story from the Trenches” in the chapter entitled…gulp…"When My Child is Lacking Character.” (If you’d like a front row seat to what happens in our vehicle during our 15 minute commute to and from school, you can buy the book by clicking HERE).
Need Some Help?

She’s addressed many tough parenting topics, most of which she’s slogged through first-hand.

But one particular little nugget keeps resonating with me.

Doing nothing.

It’s really counter intuitive in a culture that produces infinite pins, tweets, blogs, and posts. They all tell us how to do things: throw a party, bake a radical birthday cake, eat clean, cook healthier, exercise efficiently, pray scripturally, volunteer, donate, not to mention that 2,961 other things we must do “daily.”

I’ve done or tried to do all of the above, and there is value in all of them. The truth is, I really like taking action. I like measurable results and crossing things off my list.

But when it comes to mothering there are some occasions where I’m realizing the best thing to do is…nothing.

·         When the boys forget the essentials for their activities--baseball glove, football pads, basketball shoes (for an out-of-town tournament!! Grrr!), I want to ask around and borrow a glove, drive home and get the pads, or go buy a new pair of basketball shoes.

·         When my wannabe-Buck-Commander needs $50 extra to buy the online-special-this-weekend-only bow that he’s been saving for, I want to put it on my card and Instagram his beaming smile.

·         When they try to draw me into an argument over rules and decisions, I want to take the bait, reason with them and think to myself, “Surely a tired child will understand if I just explain myself a little louder.”

“But when you rescue your kids, it’s like taking pain meds after you’ve broken your arm. You feel better for a while, but not only are you not fixing the problem, you’re probably making it worse.” (~ Kathi Lipp, pg. 84)

What makes it even harder to do nothing is that “No one is giving blue ribbons to the mom who is biting her tongue. But know that every time you “don’t,” you are doing the deep, hard, God-breathed stuff that is growing you and your kids.” (pg. 71)

And that is the secret to why I’ll keep doing nothing. Shhh…I’m actually doing something.

·         When I make my boys ask around to borrow a glove, when they sit sidelined without pads, when they play basketball in their very non-basketball sneakers, I do nothing. Still, they are learning. Learning to plan ahead, get organized and be responsible.

·         When I allow the $50 burden of debt to rest on him, I do nothing. He counts the days of chores until his debt will be paid. And it seems like he will “never get there.” He is learning that the borrower is a slave to the lender, and chores are even less fun when your pay goes directly to your creditor.

·         When I have explained myself once and, by some miracle of God, I actually refrain from arguing, I do nothing. Still, they learn that I mean what I say. “No,” means “no,” despite your elaborate monologue.

Beyond these lessons, I hope the boys are learning something more profound: moms can solve precious few of life’s problems. Kathi says it like this: “Understand that moms make lousy shelters. When it comes to shelters, we are like cardboard refrigerator boxes. Yes, we can provide some safety. Yes, we can make a good short-term hiding place, but we’re pretty flimsy and totally unresistant to the weather when storms come. We need to keep pointing our kids to our Strong Tower [God], the only True Shelter that any of us ever has. Yep—that means leaving them out in the cold sometimes so they will seek a more Permanent Shelter.” (pg. 85)

I pray my “do nothing” approach will eventually lead them to seek shelter in Jesus—the Only One who can truly rescue any of us.

Photo courtesy Kim de Blecourt