Everyone Struggles, Even Professionals
In 2013, our adult daughter (our middle child) went on The World Race, an 11-month mission trip, traveling to 11 countries in 11 months. This quote was never truer for me than during that time. The meaning was heightened because our relationship was strained before she left.
It was normal “mother/mid-twenties daughter” stuff, nothing relationship shattering, but not the way a mom wants to say goodbye to her child as she leaves for almost a year. I wished I understood why we clashed, and what I did that frustrated, disappointed, and just plain bugged her.
Maybe then I could figure out a way to just stop doing it! We had talked about our relationship… calmly at times… with tension at others.
I wanted to force the issue before she left. Thankfully, my hubs and my mom suggested I hold it loosely, give her space and trust God.
Was it hard? You bet! I cried… a lot.
I tried to be lighthearted as we packed and spent time together during those last few days. I am sure my longing for it to be different leaked out and she felt pressure. She was gracious. I tried to be patient and quiet, sharing the bulk of my thoughts, fears, worries, and questions with God, my hubbie, and mom. They reminded me to have faith. I struggled.
As we hugged one last time, my heart ached. I knew I had blown it — I tried to have conversations, got frustrated, hurt her feelings, shared too much, said too little, and now she was leaving… for 11 months.
Sure there would be FaceTime, texts, and emails, but they would be short, newsy, and light. It would be a year before we could really talk about anything. Our relationship struggles weighed heavy on my heart as she trekked the world.
Of course, I hoped and prayed she would return home safely, but also that we could share openly, mend fences, deal with the tension, address my alienating actions or words, and build a healthy and stronger relationship.
She is home again and when I take my own advice and Listen, Learn her, and Love Well, I can see things improving between us. (Amazing how that works!) I am learning to listen in the ways I teach, but can fail miserably at living out.
I am learning her bit by bit… how she is different from what I may think or assume based on her childhood years. Her adult experiences have impacted and shaped her as well. I am trying to love well by being patient, quiet, and giving her space, which is sometimes very hard for me. I want to just hash it out, figure out how to fix it; I wanted to do it my way… but then, the skill of loving well isn’t about me.
Using these skills, our relationship has improved. We share some delightful times, great conversations, and times of connection reminiscent of her younger years. We are learning to accept and enjoy each other. It’s ironic; we both want a deep and connected relationship and we are just figuring out how to have one as adults. I am hopeful and grateful. She is patient and forgiving. (So to all the moms reading… don’t lose heart… life is long and relationships with our kids survive the teens and twenties!)
Does knowing I struggle in my relationships give you hope and encouragement? It should!! Seriously, I teach this stuff — this is my wheelhouse and I struggle, falter, and fail! Not all my relationships are thriving, awesome, and without conflict. Creating better relationships is a process. There is hope!
Sometimes when I am coaching clients, I hear myself encourage them to specifically use one of these skills to handle an issue or improve their relationship. And I hear a voice in the back of my head chuckle and say, “So are you the pot or the kettle today?”
In addition to my own experiences, I have learned a great deal from the privilege of helping my clients build better and healthy relationships with themselves, God, and others. As we dive into their story, relational struggles, and questions, we work together to improve their connections as they practice skills and change unproductive habits or patterns of relating. They begin to see substantial improvements where they have often given up hope.
So there is hope for you and your relationships- both professional and personal. Don’t give up hope, but keep trying while using the skills you learn along the way.
Remember- Growth is NOT like a microwave, it is a long slow cooker… but always worth the effort!
Excerpt from my #1 Amazon bestseller: Listen, Learn, Love: How to Dramatically Improve Your Relationships in 30 Days or Less!