I recently read an excellent book, Loving the Little Years. (Review should be coming soon!) A couple places in it, she urged personal expanding…stretching and growing and learning. She even had a rather different- and fascinating- take on Psalms 128, different from the typical one you see. Essentially, she suggested that when the verse talks about being a “fruitful vine” it doesn’t seem like it’s talking about having a bunch of kids…they’re already had and young olive plants, yet she’s still fruitful. The author mentioned that it seems more in reference- or perhaps in addition to children- to living a fruitful life. Trying new things. Being productive. Exploring and expanding your giftings….and trying things you don’t consider to be your giftings. Elsewhere in the book, she discusses doing so for the sake of your children- being willing to constantly grow and add to your repertoire for the sake of all the different personalities and interests you’ll have amongst your children.
*Disclaimer: I’m not necessarily stating whether I agree or disagree with her on the verse interpretation. I’ve enjoyed chewing on it. I think, perhaps, the verse should be applied to all areas of life- including your children. But not just having lots of kids….pouring fruitfully into the ones you have. And letting that on its own not be enough.*
This was inspiring and challenging to me. I happened to read it after both Ben and I started stretching ourselves and moving into fields we’d previously considered things we just couldn’t/weren’t good at/etc. I started designing diaper patterns, something I’ve said for the past 2 years I wasn’t interested in doing because I’m just not brave enough or good enough at pattern creating for something that “complicated”. Ben’s worked at challenging himself physically (with the encouragement/pushing of my younger brother), working on better wrist action (particularly working on Ultimate throws that have always been more difficult for him). He has less dexterity in his wrist, which makes it more difficult to make some throws, or play certain sports in general. But, as my brother has pointed out more than once, that’s not a reason to not get good at it…it just means you have to work harder at it than the average person.
I’m a reasonably creative person (in my own fields), and I love living a productive life. So for the most part, I’m often pursuing new things, learning and researching how to do new stuff, and enjoying full, productive days exploring stuff with Viviana. I love pattern designing. I thoroughly enjoy being creative in the kitchen. I like learning new health stuff, and changing how I cook as I go. I enjoy pondering up entrepreneur pursuits. I love a good budgeting/buying challenge. I enjoy writing and recording memories. And that probably only scratches the surface.
But….I have so much I could grow in. I still get into ruts- I might be creative and exploring in some fields, but there are some that I’ve always just considered “off-limits”. For example….I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I’m just not good at decorating” or “Decorating just isn’t my thing” or something along those lines. It’s true that I’m not good at it, and don’t have a natural taste for it. Some people are super talented in that area and have the best ideas for totally changing a room, decorating a party table, etc. I don’t….but I’m sure I could learn. I could watch and gain ideas, I could locate books. I could come up with things to make our home a lovelier place if I got over the idea that I just “can’t”. And if we have a daughter who has an eye for décor and loveliness…I’m sure I could learn along with her, to be able to help her, and to help appease her desire for beauty in our own home. I’ve written off cake decorating as something I’m not/wouldn’t be good at- though I haven’t even tried. I’m just not really interested in the tediousness of it….or of making other fancy baked goods. But if I had a child that was interested in that direction, I could, for their sake, learn along with them and enjoy the fellowship and helping them grow in their interests. I wouldn’t, though, if I always wrote it off as something I just couldn’t do, or a waste of time.
I could potentially permanently injure my children by my lack of willingness to try new fields. By my “it’s just not for me/us” attitude. By sticking with my small circle of things I know how to do. Not to mention the fact that I don’t want to pass that kind of attitude- the kind that shirks from anything difficult, work-involved, time-consuming, or with potential for failure- on to my kids. If I want them to explore life, find new pursuits, and dig headlong into whatever they try (i.e. not be lazy) I have to be it, too.
And sure….I’m going to encounter things that I’m just not very good at. And it’s okay to have different interests. I might never get good at cake decorating- but if Vivi wants to make a go at it, then I want to do our best together. Decorating might never hold a lot of personal pleasure for me, and that’s okay. I don’t have to do everything all the time. I can choose activities for my free time that I truly enjoy. But if one of our children is into interior design, or coordinating/decorating parties, I want to be able to help- and enjoy it at that. And in all that….I might just fall in love with something I was certain I could never like. At the very least, it’s always very gratifying to plunge into something that I avoided for one reason or another, and see the activity/job through. So many times, I’ve put something off because it looked or sounded complicated. I just thought it was out of my playing field. But on more than one occasion, when I gritted my teeth and just did it, I found the thing far more interesting (and usually easier!) than I imagined.