Friday, January 27, 2012

Monkey Bars

I don't know about you guys, but all throughout grade school, my
daughter lived on the Monkey Bars. 
Do kids still love the monkey bars??

It was her absolute favorite thing to do and she became really really good at it.
She had excellent speed, and glided along really gracefully. 

If you've followed along on my blog for even a month or so, you'd know that I  have a 17 year old daughter.
Her and I have a very loving, intentional, relational, trusting, open, affectionate, compassionate, grace-filled relationship. 
And up until about 3 months ago I never would have thought that I'd be hit- what has felt like a Semi-truck, 
with the typical teenage years. We just hadn't gone through it {yet}
Sure, none of parenting is smooth sailing, but I can say parenting this girl, has 
been close to it. We've had our fair share of stuff, but nothing like the last three months. Nothing.

One of the issues going on is her relationship with her boyfriend. She gets so emotional and lately her feelings have been getting the best of her. The happy go lucky girl I use to see everyday doesn't come around as much. Which again, I know can be normal. Thanks to Tamera, at Tamera Beardsley Blog, I have come to know and understand just how "normal" this is. And that it's OK. She'll be OK. I'll be OK.
We will find our groove, once again. Soon.

Tonight as we were talking and catching up at the dinner table, she was opening up about feeling frustrated about her feelings and emotions and how she wishes she could change and work on things deeper. She's irritated about how she's handling some stuff, and feels really overwhelmed.
I told her that one of the things I identified over the last several months with her is that she 
is clinging to things.
 She is clinging to her boyfriend. She is clinging to every small issue. She is clinging to every moving emotion like it's the Gospel Truth, and I know it feels that way. She's clinging to peoples failures. She's clinging too tightly. To too much.

I brought up The Monkey Bars. 
I asked her if she remembered how much she use to love them? She remembered. We reminisced about that for a while. And I said:
"When you first started out on the Monkey Bars you clenched your whole hand around the bar and you would not go forward. You were clinging so tightly...but that is not how you use monkey bars. You glide from one bar to the next, moving gracefully. You don't cling. You pass through. You let go. You overlook {we overlook one monkey bar too to get to the next one, remember}...
This is how you handle the things in life that seem so big, and problematic. Think of these "big issues" and irritations and feelings or happenings as you would the monkey bars.
Sure you notice something or someone that is bothering you or a situation that makes you upset, but then you don't cling to it, you move on. You see it, recognize it, gently welcome it and then you keep on movin....just like you do on the monkey bars. Don't cling to tightly to anything, or anyone. But move through all of it gracefully and gently."
I was looking desperately to find the picture I had in mind of my daughter swinging on a set, but I just couldn't locate it. Sorry for the horrible picture, but it suits the purpose. It's a good shot of moving through.

She cut her hair in May and it is growing back so slowly. She so desperately wants it long for Show Choir. So I agreed that she could get some {cheap} extensions. The Madelynn I know would be laid back and relaxed about this. But her behavior was so life or death over these extensions and how they were going to look and if they'd be long enough and on and on. I don't even think it's healthy to want them in the first place, but I indulged her on this one. Because you have to pick your battles, especially when they are teenagers.
She was clinging so tightly to these extensions like they would make or break her on stage. 
This is not the girl I raised, but this is a teenage girl with a lot of emotions and feelings; trying to sort through life and insecurities. Remember that? 
I'm still doing it.
{no matter how we parent or what we teach our kids or what unique things we have to offer them, or no matter what our style is or our beliefs, our kids are still going to become their own people. They are an extension of us, and it's not until they become teenagers do you really really see how human and independent they really are from you.}

Think of all the things we cling to. Our houses. Our cars. Our money. Our clothing. Our hair. Our spouses. Our rights. Our opinions. Our views. Our jobs. Our TV's. Our looks. We act like we own these things. 
We are chronic clingers, let's face it.
God provides everything to us, by His incredible grace.
It will all be dust one day anyway. I believe it is not really ours, but 
His anyway.

This idea of moving through life on the Monkey Bars really seemed to resonate with Madelynn. And it's resonating with me.

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Romans 12:9


Mary said...

oh, wow.
i'm a clinger. eeeek!
but He's still working on me.
i absolutely love this comparison.
you are a very wise momma and your daughter is blessed to have you.
hope you have a great weekend!

vintch said...

as a total clinger, i can relate to this on so many levels. i think it must hurt the heart of our Father to see us hold so tightly to things and worries and situations beyond our control. i think faith is the space between the bars, that sacred moment when you let go and for a minute, you're suspended until find your footing again. that's the leap of faith, right there.

thank you for this beautiful reminder.

SymbioticLife said...

Ha! You totally got me on that one. I was feeling all happy and contented, mentally patting myself on the back. I was absolutely humming with the fact that I think I've learned to glide more and cling less. It's been a tough lesson to learn but I felt, surely, I've come a long way. Then you started listing the things we cling to. Houses? Nah. Cars? Nuh-uh. Money? Haahahha as if I had any to cling to. Clothing, ummm not...really? (I wasn't even slightly convincing to myself saying that.) Spouses - ah, snap. You got me there. Rights. Oh no. {Face Palm} Yes. I'm a definite clinger there. Opinions? Yep, there too. Views and jobs? {siiiiigh} Alright. I'm only "almost" a glider. Hehehe I guess it turns out I'm a bigger work in progress than I gave myself credit for. Great post about things to keep in mind.

Lydia Criss Mays said...

Wow. I'm reflecting on so many levels right now. Myself clinging to life's metaphorical monkey bars... Myself as a teenager clinging to too much that didn't matter, but I couldn't see that... Trying to find the words that might make you feel better...

We cling. It's how we learn, right? We cling because it's safe to cling, but whether or not the thing we're clinging to is the best for us is the question. It seems once the clinging begins the tighter we need to take hold. Holding on seems to override the choice for why we're holding on in the first place. I'm sure many of us remember that feeling growing up. She's still holding on to you. You are a metaphorical monkey bar that she'll always be clinging to, you're just safe. And that's a good thing. She'll learn that and treasure it forever.

Happy seeing beautiful!

KnittedFox said...

I never thought of it that way. It is a great outlook on the situation. Personally, I can see how I'm clinging on to certain bars at the moment too hard.

When I was in elementary school, the school and my parents would get so mad because I would be on the monkey bars so much my entire palms would turn into blisters. Now that I'm older, and on these figurative monkey bars, I can say I don't too this often anymore. Thank goodness.

chambanachik said...

I am so glad I found your blog, Gina. Every post just hits home so easily with me, and they're always just beautiful.

Alana said...

Hang in there! I was kind of blah when I was a teenager--it's just a phase we all go through. :)

Natalie said...

Definitely got me thinking about what I've been clinging to! Thanks for sharing!

Kristen @ Confessions of a GDS said...

I loveee this post, girl. What a great comparison and reminder. I'm a class A clinger... life is scary. We want to hold on to the things that make us comfortable. When we are without them we feel so vulnerable and lost, we might have forgotten who we were before. I think that's the secret to life- to be comfortable with who you are with or without your attachments. Very thought provoking post- thank you!

Ferial Trammell said...

Great post, Gina! What a well-written and important reminder.

Tamera Beardsley said...

Oh my dear what a powerful post...I will be back to comment...must let this one sink in...just wanted to let you know I read it...and loved it...

Beth said...

This is good.

We're getting little tastes of this already. YIKES.

I LOVE how God gives us what our kids need to hear, like your Monkey Bars analogy. He is so good like that!

Vivian said...

What a smart analogy. I don't have a teenagers yet but I know what it feels to want only but the best for our children. You are doing the best by being there for her and showing your unconditional love. You are great mother of the main reasons I was drawn into your blog :)

p e b b z said...

oh i used to love monkey bars when i was a kid.. i pretty sure kids still love them... i mean, whats not to love ha ha! xo


Erin said...

this is such a good reminder girl. love the Romans passage at the end. thanks for sharing your heart :) found your cute blog from captivated by grace - following!

Magical Day Dream said...

Great analogy. I guess it's a human thing to cling to things. Being a teenager makes it even harder. I am 23 now and have grown a lot over the last few years. When I was a year older than what your daughter now is, I went through a phase in which I was very insecure about not wearing make-up (something I was clinging to) I decided to not wear any for a period of time.. so I would grow in confidence and maturity and know I shouldn't put my trust is something superficial. Your daughter will still grow and learn, but with the loving base you offer her I am more than confident that everything will work out just fine.

Sarah B. said...

I've been reading about your relationship bumps with Madelynn lately. Teens will be teens (even the best of them). My mom and I also had a hard time during my "difficult" years (though mine came a lot earlier, at 10 and 11. Eek!). But after being through all that together, I feel my mom and I are even closer now. I think the "clinging" is just a fact of life. We all get stuck on a monkey bar or two (or three, or four, or fifty.) at some point in our lives, but once we get the hang of things we can move on gracefully... That's when we prove to ourselves who we really are: persistent people determined to make it across the bars with nothing but grace. :) Hang in there while Madz is still learning her way across, Gina!

Tamera Beardsley said...

Gina, I have been reflecting on your monkey bars all weekend...I realized to be successful on the bars you must both hold on and let wonder your analogy resonated so deeply with this is what I have been struggling to master for over a year....your monkey bars gives the concept a visual...thank you!

As I was contemplating your post...I saw not only is the concept of learning to hold on and let go...difficult for me to master...I realized that must be what my children are realizing they too must to hold onto family and let go enough to venture out into the world and make their own was through your post I realized more empathy for my children ....this isn't just a hard path for me right now...but for them too...knowing this truth gives me much more loving eyes for all of us...and our journey now.

Gina, thank you so much for what you do...and sharing your truly does touch lives...and make them better!

sending you much love.

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous comparison! God gave a ton of wisdom there. Thanks for sharing that, it is a good reminder for me today. Becca :-)

Halina said...

I really realized this after my father died, looking at all the things he left behind, including us of course. It is a mastery not clinging to things, but when we let go of fear, once in a while, that's when we feel free and loved.

I really loved this post!