Saturday, February 9, 2013

lessons in people-watching...

I have a confession.  I have a habit that causes me to get lost in my mind and in the lives of others.

You see, I'm a people watcher.  

Sometimes, I get lost in the stories of those that I am watching that all else fades away.

I know this wise man who spends every Christmas Eve plopped on a bench at the local mall watching like it were a sport.  Eyes peeled.  Devouring passers-by and allowing their stories, made up or not, to wash over his spirit.  He doesn't shop.  He doesn't walk.  Simply sits and watches.  He's done it for so long now, that people come to see him.  They sit with him.  And they tell the stories of those that pass their way. 

This man.  This watcher.  The one whose eyes see stories better than mouths can speak.  

He is my Diddy.  

I have laughed until tears have fallen and my sides have threatened to split wide open over the stories told. 

So, I guess you could say I get this people-watching thing honest.

There's worst things, I suppose.

Last Sunday, I gazed at my daughter.  Only three feet away.  She was playing.  Lost in her own toddler-world of babies and grocery buggies.  She {not-so} gently patted her baby's back.  And then she mimicked a man-sized burp.  And giggled.  Lots of giggles.  She spoke with elation and adoration to her baby.  She pushed her in the grocery buggy.  And then she rocked her baby to sleep. 

It was at this point in the playtime that she began to wash her face, brush her teeth and put on lotion.  {Mind you, the lotion was contained in a banana and the toothpaste was a milk jug.  All items from the grocery buggy.}

She was pretending. Imitating.  Mimicking. 

And it hit me square in the heart who she was pretending to be. 


She was pretending to be me.

Imitating me.  Mimicking me.

I was overcome by the compliment and horrified by the implication, all at the same time.  I mean, I've journeyed far enough down this path of mommyhood to know that there are some things I'd rather her not pick up on.  Things I'd rather her not learn how to do by watching me. 

Like my impatient nature.  The nature that has defined me from the moment I was born.  The one that throws her hands in the air and exclaims, 'Oh gracious!'

And I'd rather her not learn my oh-so-quick response, 'In a minute' when she {or her daddy} call for me.  It falls so quick from the lips because I am wrapped up in one of my many chores.  Chores that consume me and drain the living right from my veins.  

I've spent the better part of the week reflecting on the lessons my actions are teaching my daughter.  What impressions are leaving their lasting marks on the tender surface of her precious soul?  What ways {right or wrong} is she learning to do life by watching me?  

For the past five weeks, I've been making my way through the study, Grace for the Good Girl.  And if I've learned anything thus far, it is this.  I so desperately want for my girl to learn the easy, unforced rhythms of walking in His grace.  I want her to dance freely in the redeeming love of her Maker.  I want His Light to shine so bright in her life that she never seeks a hiding place.  Rather, I pray she hides herself in Christ.  In the shelter of His love and mercy.  Under the wings of His grace.  Within the security of His goodness and faithfulness.  

But how do I teach her these things?

I spent the better part of my early adult years imitating the world.  I justified my way of doing life because it was the way others around were doing life.  I pretended like I had it all together.  I acted like the 'cool' thing to do was the very thing that turned my stomach upside down.  I worked hard for the approval of others.  Even if that meant stepping on hearts and squashing my dreams and values.  

So, how do I teach her how to live a full life?

If last Sunday taught me anything, I discovered she learns best by people-watching.  She is watching me with eyes so intent on making sense of the world around her.  Therefore, the only way I can show her how to do life is to live it in a manner worthy of the Gospel.  To unashamedly remove the masks that I have hid behind for so long, and to walk in the Light.

I'm not going to do it perfectly.  But I can at least try to show her a way that's easier than what the world will show her.  And when I mess it up royally {like I so often do}, I can look her square her in the eye, humble myself before her and God, and seek forgiveness.  

You can learn a lot by watching people.  Some good.  Some bad.  

If my daughter is going to watch me with eyes as a blue as the summer sky, then I'm going to strive to mimic Truth.  Truth that will guide her and teach her and love her long after I'm gone.

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