The Discipline of Restraint
There are times in life when NOT doing something can usher in a sacred moment. I had one recently. I learned a lot from this moment, and I want to share.
My energetic, bright, and confident daughter brought me a few pages of an essay that I had seen her working on for the past few weeks. She was exceptionally excited about this essay that is a true story of the scariest moment of her life. I was a character in this essay, and I could see in her eyes her need for me to approve of her work. She was proud and delighted to share it with her mom. I sensed in that moment that in believing in her work, she would feel my love for her. How I would value her work was tied to how I felt about her. I could see it.
I read her words out loud. There was so much energy and life in the story. I saw how excited she was to tell this story…but I also saw typos. I saw misspelled words. I saw incorrect placement of commas. I saw how the story wasn’t exactly how it happened.
And I had a choice. I had a choice to use my strengths (insight, assistance, discernment to make changes for the better…people pay me to do these things) or to RESTRAIN. Without a doubt, it was God working in me in that moment. I had been learning about the Discipline of Restraint from one of my mentors, Alicia Britt Chole. I had worked to build up the muscle of restraint. This, my friend, was a test.
I looked at her, mirroring back to her the excitement that she was oozing, and I told her how proud of her I was. I told her that the story kept me on the edge of my seat even when I knew the ending. I gave her a hug. I celebrated her work, and I celebrated her.
Fast forward a week or two. As I picked up my daughters from school, my daughter told me about her day. She said that her teacher read her essay to the class. The teacher praised my daughter, saying that in the history of 25 years of teaching, this was the best essay she has ever read from one of her students.
I, of course, was so pleased that she did well. But I was even more thankful that I had not been a critical, disparaging voice echoing in her heart. Had I corrected her, she would have remembered that her mother only saw the negative. The discipline of restraint saved my daughter the belief that her mother didn’t approve of her.
I sat back and didn’t say what I thought. I held my tongue and offered my heart. I have to say it is one of my proudest moments in the last year, and it is all because I used RESTRAINT.
I will continue to learn to get out of the way, to give less of myself.
Next challenge: critiquing my husband’s sermons.