The back seat of my car can morph into a movie set (they’re usually filming some sort of Lifetime drama), a competitive arcade (we have more gaming electronics than HH Gregg), an MMA cage fighting ring (yes, the pastor’s kids know how to throw down), and even a courtroom (complete with opening arguments, character witnesses, and passionate cross-examination).
And all this in the 6 minute ride from our house to school each morning.
Three kids, two miles, one back seat. As chauffeur, it’s a strange mix of irritating and entertaining. Irrirtaining? As usual, my favorite display will undoubtedly erupt from the 6 year old.
“Emma, watch me blow a snot bubble with my nose.”
“Emma, look at me!”
“Arghhhhhhh…..Emma! Look back here now!!!!”
“Dad, would you make Emma look at me!”
He’s demanding. Attention. Love. Acceptance. Approval. Laughs. And when big sis doesn’t give it to him, he starts to lose his mind. “Make her give it to me, dad! Make her! Make her!”
As adults, we’re not much different. Just (well, sometimes) a bit more discreet. When someone ignores us, disagrees with us, disapproves of us, we absorb it so personally. And out of our deep insecurity we respond with indignation, shaking our fist (figuratively or perhaps at times Metta World Peace-ably) in the face of our offender…
“Approve of me!”
“Agree with me!”
The only problem with this approach is that it’s both emotionally exhausting and completely ineffective. The more we demand love and respect, the less the other party desires to give it to us. It creates distance, not connection.
So here’s a little trick I learned from a good friend that’s given me immense freedom in this area of life. When someone disagrees with you, shames you, ignores you, refuses to give you what you want – don’t shake your fist and demand it.
Seriously, it’s simple and it’s empowering. Makes you much more comfortable with who you are, and much less likely to absorb the rejection you’re feeling inside. Sure it stings, but you can handle it. And the acceptance you’re longing for is much more likely to come if you’re respected. No one runs toward a whiny beggar.
God doesn’t demand love from us, so why should we try and demand it from others? It you have to force it (dad, make her look at me!), it’s not real anyway.
Is there someone who’s love, approval, and acceptance you long for? Are you trying to demand it?