I’m walking a fine line of finding the need to temper my kids’ expectations of other people while not bad-mouthing others all at the same time.
This visual came to mind that I’m hoping might help them (and me). Picture each person with their own shopping cart that they push through life. The cart should be filled with components that make up spiritual health, physical health, emotional health and relational health.
A healthy and whole person has things in their cart that make up their spiritual component, like first and foremost, a relationship with God. You also might find connection to a church, regular Bible reading, a solid prayer life, serving others.
The physical components could be eating well, exercising, getting enough rest, carving out time for fun.
A healthy emotional person has good boundaries, knows when to say no, apologizes when wrong, gets help when struggling, things like that.
And a relationally healthy person chooses good friends and pours into them, is loyal and trustworthy, serves other people but does not enable.
A healthy person – ideally – has a full shopping cart. But not every person is a healthy person. Some people have sparse carts because they’re just plain young and are still learning what they should be carrying around with them. Some are in pain circumstantially and components they usually tend to have in spades have been pushed to the wayside and are depleted for a season. Some people were never told what to put in their carts in the first place, so the uneven weight makes them unintentionally – or intentionally depending on the situation and the person – ram their carts into others. Or, simply, though they may be generally well equipped to handle life, some specific circumstances just don’t fit with anything they’ve got in their cart, so they don’t know what to do. In other words, you can’t expect something from someone if they never experienced it for themselves (like mercy or forgiveness or the unconditional love of Christ).
In the middle of my mess, I had laid some pretty significant expectations on certain people in my life of how they’d support me. This has not served me well, I’m afraid. I have been hurt and disappointed this past year and I believe I’m beginning to see why. I was looking at each person in my life as if all of their carts were full. But first of all, no one’s cart is ever truly full or we wouldn’t need Jesus. Secondly, my cart isn’t full, so why should anyone else’s be? Thirdly, even if someone’s cart is pretty full, they may have a thing or two of their own that is taking up extra energy or resources. So I’m finding that once I survey each person’s cart, I can begin to see them through eyes of compassion and not eyes of disappointment.
So I will tell my children that not every person will respond to them the way that they want them to. That maybe it’s because they’re hurting or in need or were never given the tools to fill up their carts and truly be there for someone else in the first place. And that they need to be careful what you put upon another person to do for you or fill up in you.
And yet on the flipside, it also has me thinking…am I moving towards wholeness to healthily be there for the people in my life and to make sure I’m not banging my cart into anyone else’s? What’s in my shopping cart?
What’s in yours?
If this post helped you, “Moving On as a Christian Single Mom” is for you, found here.