I shared a message with my son today that is not easy for me to forget. It was a conversation that seemed to break his heart. If only he heard what I was trying to say.
A Treasured Keepsake
A few years ago my youngest son Evan made me a bracelet. It very simply said “Evan Loves Dad”, where instead of “loves” he had a heart. It was too small for me to wear, and the string seemed flimsy (something I would later find would be an accurate assessment.)
It meant a lot to me as Evan and I have had our challenges. The fact that he gave me this gift connected to no particular holiday or event meant something. So I put it on my desk with only a couple other items. It was in a place of honor where I would see it often.
A Small Accident
On the day of this writing Evan took that bracelet and was trying to do something with it. He ended up breaking the string. It seems my concerns about the string were on the money.
I saw the beads on a counter in the kitchen, and, although I understood what it was, I wasn’t able to process what had happened. So I asked “what’s this?” with a little concern over my precious keepsake. Evan told me what had happened, but he assured me that all the beads were there.
A Crushed Spirit
I knew my son had issues with feeling to blame for bad things, so I had kid gloves on. After he told me the beads were all there, I said “Good. Because it’s important to me.”
Hidden in his pain of ruining my gift, he heard something devastating. His mind interpreted this as “You ruined something important to me.” Immediately he became defensive to protect himself.
A Chance for Self Esteem
It took me a couple chances to get through to him as he blocked my efforts to talk, but finally I was able to share with him the truth. “Evan, I don’t think you’re hearing what I’m saying. You’re hearing a bad message: you broke my bracelet. I’m giving you a good message: this bracelet is important to me because you gave it to me and you’re important. I am not worried about it missing the string. I simply am glad I still have this because it’s from you.”
There are so many times in life we can be angry about what has happened to our stuff. In the end it’s just stuff. The real value life has is in our relationships.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we turned things around to show love instead of anger? Wouldn’t it be great if we did this enough times that rather than expecting and hearing a message of anger and criticism, our loved ones now expect and hear only positive messages from us?
Imagine how much our relationships would improve if the people we were closest to expected hope and happiness even in times of stress. And wouldn’t that be a message they wouldn’t soon forget?