Posted by: ramonamom | April 28, 2009

“Not All About You”

Today I had a conversation with our almost 19 year old adopted daughter on the way to the dermatologist’s office, in which she showed some remarkable insight and a refreshing desire to truly understand her own behavior and to change for the better.  She was, as usual, nervous about talking to me (she is the same daughter written about in the previous post), but it did not end up taking her long to get to the point.  Obviously she had put a great deal of thought and planning into this conversation. 

Her question went something like this;  “Mom, you have said something to me quite a few times that I think I may need to understand better and try to change in myself.”  I encouraged her to tell me what it was I had said to her and was surprised to hear that she was speaking of my comment recently made to her along the lines of, “It’s not all about you.”  With a little urging, she told me of  two specific times when I said this to her, with the first having been in the course of a very intense time of “discussion”, during which she spewed all sorts of threats.  I did not remember specifically what the “it’s not all about you” comment was in regards to at that point, but I did remember the more recent one she mentioned.  She is in the process of getting ready to take a trip to California with a friend from church and we had been discussing doling out her chores while she was gone.  Her main concern seemed to be that when she returned, she would not have to do an unfair amount of chores in return for those siblings who did hers while she was gone.  Due to her preoccupation with not being taken advantage of, I made the comment that caught her attention and brought up the memory of the previous time when I had said something similar. 

What an exciting opportunity I was given, to explain my reasoning and thoughts behind those little words!  Knowing how much courage it had taken for her to ask me this question, I wasted no time in starting to answer it.  First of all, I assured her that it was good she was asking this question and that I would do my best to help her understand why I had made this comment and how she could change.  Secondly, I explained that her particular behaviors/reactions in situations like this are due to habits deeply ingrained in her personality from her early years.  I spoke of the Chinese culture where only one child per family encourages a typical societal norm of spoiled children, and I also spoke more specifically to her own upbringing in the home of  a Chinese “dad” who took her in as his only child until she was in her preteen years.  I assured her that it would indeed be natural to develop the habit of living like life revolved around only you in an environment like that.  However, I also proceeded to explain the sinfulness in this particular mindset and how God wants us to “consider others as more important than ourselves.” 

Upon returning home, I began to read in a commentary on I Peter of this very subject.  Regarding Chapter 2, verse 17, “Show proper respect to everyone…”, the author had this to say:

Instead of walking by this rule of showing respect to everyone, what is most common is a perverse inclination to dishonor one another.  Everyone is ready to dishonor everyone, so that they may pay tribute to himself… Every man is naturally his own grand idol who will ruin the reputation of others in order to promote himself.  But because the humble man is more aware of this divine rule, he respects other people and is not in competition with them.   Therefore, learn more about this excellent grace of humility; then you will obey this word.”

Imagine our daughter’s delight when I presented her a copy of this page in the book, only a short time after having had this very conversation with her earlier in the day.  I underlined the above passage and told her that I had thought of her when I read it.  (Yes, her face did seem to light up a bit when I said that, too.)

As arduous as those monthly trips to the dermatologist have become, I am ever thankful for this opportunity and others that have presented themselves during the drive to and from this office.  I am also thankful for a older adopted daughter who overcame her nervousness around “The Mom” enough to bring up such a subject as this and dig deeply enough to understand it and see where she needed to change.

This was a very good converation, with me assuring her that knowing she was aware of this habit would help me to work at being more gentle and specific in my correction of her from that time forward.  Now, being able to refer back to this conversation and specifically remind her of what we talked about, I hope I will also be reminded of God’s grace in my own life and His patience with my personal sinful habits.

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