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These Happy Golden Years*

June 30, 2011
From Brene’ Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, pages 79 – 80:

“Anne Robertson, a Methodist pastor, writer and executive director of the Massachusetts Bible Society, explains how the Greek origins of the happiness and joy hold important meaning for us today. She explains how the Greek word for happiness is Makarios, which was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune, such as money or health. 

Robertson compares this to the Greek word for joy which is chairo. Chairo was described by the ancient Greeks as the “culmination of being” and the “good mood of the soul.” 

Robertson writes, “Chairo is something, the ancient Greeks tell us, that is found only in God and comes with virtue and wisdom. It isn’t a beginner’s virtue; it comes as the culmination. They say it’s opposite is not sadness, but fear.” 

I have been thinking a lot about how saying thank you is the opposite of self-pity. It’s the opposite of self-anything. Self-focus. My fears, my doubts, my anxiety …. my anything.

I have a friend who has five (almost) grown kids – she has told me several times that the ages our kids are at now are such special ones. These are the years where everything is possibility, she’s said, where everything is an option and full of hope.

I am seeing what she means. My kids are old enough to reason and young enough to be un-self-conscious. The first six years, if I look back, were all about teaching survival skills. (To my self,  as much as to them!) How to stay alive, eat, drink, sleep and exist safely.

Around six and seven years old I really loved the joy of seeing my kids’ uniqueness unfold. I got to celebrate their differences, their own perspectives and the surprises that came out in how they see the world through their own eyes. I loved that and I still do.

And now, now it’s all about relationship.

I am consciously, intentionally storing away for (what could be) the turbulence of individuating ahead. I am laying a foundation every day of relationship. I’d be foolish to think it may not get tricky with hormones and the heavy-lifting that growing up will ask of them. But I have these years and I am daily helping them build relationship with themselves, with family, with friends, with their own faith… with the way their minds and bodies work and how to relate to that.

Most of how I do this is with time. It’s focus, it’s eye contact and answering impossible questions with attention, it’s listening, it’s reading, it’s touch, it’s doing everything we can together – it’s investing, investing, investing. It’s golden moments that flitter by so fast that sometimes even the legitimate robs the essential.

In the past this investment has often come from fear. From a sense of scarcity or panic of the unknown (or even precedent) – from a place of focus on me and my worries and my fears. But slowly I am learning to make the investment from a surplus of joy instead. From a place of gratitude.

As they practice growing up, I am practicing my place of thanks. Thanks not built on guarantees but on God.

These last two years have been a scary season for me as a mother. To see all of our needs as a family met through unusual means has stretched me and continues to stretch me – sometimes to a breaking point. I am daily learning to see the gifts in our lives as the opposite of seeing lack, and instead choosing to see plenty.  To see the beauty of who I worship show Himself in the abundance of goodness and kindness and simple routines of our days.

These are some golden moments from this week. They aren’t reflections of perfection or  even what I always think we need. But these are the ones I clicked on a camera button for, because this was my way of saying: I see this gift, God, and I thank you.

for my husband
for these golden years with her
for their friendship
for reading me pooh bear
for a rainbow garden
(thanks to our friend sara)
for a quiet home
(after the cacophony of celebrating that school’s out)
for collecting dinner for daddy
for enjoyment
for daddy being home
for their relationship
for beauty and joy
for baby-sitting a little buddy and seeing my kids play with him
{*with apologies to Laura Ingalls Wilder}
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara Thompson permalink
    June 30, 2011 8:54 pm

    Can only say ‘Beautiful.’ Words for thought and contemplation. That one little word ‘thank you’ is so powerful and can make the world of difference in someone’s life.

    Thrilled to see the vegetable garden! Wonderful!

  2. Heidi Rose permalink
    July 1, 2011 4:58 am

    I really liked that. Life is hard right now and I am pretty sure some of it is from just focusing on how hard it is. So….deep breath and movin on.

  3. August 18, 2011 4:40 am

    Beautiful.
    Thank.
    You.
    x

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