We enter the world expecting others to be there for us.
We take it for granted that someone will feed us, hold us, clean us.
I remember how vulnerable I felt after the birth of my first son. I suffered from a drawn-out, traumatic labour which lasted through the night and well into the next day. I was physically spent. Once it was over the nurse handed Jonathan to me and said to feed him. I could hardly lift my head. But if I didn’t, who would?
Like many new parents, the sleep-deprived nights took their toll on us. Many of the challenges brought tears of frustration. Part of me wanted to be mothered too. But I summoned up enough strength to keep going. I wanted to – for my son.
Children need us – or at least one capable caregiver – to be strong for them. It’s their right.
But for some of us, we never grow out of that childhood state of dependency. We might continually expect to be ‘mothered’ – to have people doing things for us. No one has ever taken the time to teach us independence – so we stay stuck in a rather disempowered cycle.
But if we don’t grow up – how will we be strong for the ‘young’ in our care? If we’re always pre-occupied with our obsessive need to be nurtured, how will we do what needs to be done for others in our sphere of influence?
We must grow up eventually.
We must be brave for others rather than wishing others would be brave for us. They may, but they might not.
We can’t help everyone but we can help some – so we must keep asking. Who can I help? Who needs nurturing? Not of the unhealthy, co-dependent kind. Some just need to be pulled to their feet with a few kind words… Or taught independence so they can teach others the same.
We can only teach strength by modelling it. And we can only model it by learning it first.
May you find the wisdom you need to be a courageous leader in your family, school, workplace, or community. Love as you’ve been loved.
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)