Babies have it made. Everything in all of creation is new to them, so everything is a life changing discovery. A ladybug could hold their attention for half an hour. Watching water droplets fall from a leaf will fascinate them beyond belief. Watching a dog shake off brings laughter from the depths of their souls. Everything is beautiful and astonishing in its own right. What makes babies able to see the beauty of this world so clearly is the lack of filters.
They have no filter or prior information redefining that ladybug, water droplets or the dog shaking off. They’ve not made any connections that distort any of those things. Like having been bitten by a ladybug (YES! They really do bite), or a water droplet falling from a leaf and directly into their eye, or a dog shaking off IN YOUR BED! (Need I say more?) They don’t filter through prior experiences that dim the beauty of those things. So their interaction with them is pure and unadulterated.
After 48 years on this planet, I’ve experienced a few things and filters have formed over my mind’s eye that dim the beauty of so many things. The joy of splashing in mud puddles as a child is now filtered through the thought that mud has trashed my carpet and now it makes me cringe! In days past, the sight of an infant would send my brain tailspinning into a hormonal tornado, but having been there – done that, I don’t allow the sweetness to come to mind because the filter is very thick with so much more data that dims the preciousness of an infant.
Filters that Lie!
In relationships, filtering through prior experiences is a sure fire way to destroy all potential of a great experience. My son just turned 17 and he’s doing all the normal things to level up in his development toward the quest of manhood. He’s reserving stories for dad that would normally be shared with me. He’s consistently offended by most of my attempts to “assist” him in any way. Although, he still tends to end the night with his arms wrapped around me. This must be confusing times for him.
My challenge? The familiar feelings and fears of rejection and abandonment were swarming my thoughts and my reactions to my son’s natural tendencies have been, well…let’s just say rocky. I was utilizing filters that were completely distorting the truth of what was happening…not to mention the major error of thinking that it was all about me.
The poor boy was just doing all the right things to begin the painful process of separating from mom. This is literally God’s designed. So, after a long talk with Jesus, and after much crying and repentance, I have removed the lying filter.
This doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. I’m more aware of that arrow that entered my heart 17 years ago than ever before.
Filters that Empower!
I have a new challenge…one that I’ve made for myself. It’s to put on a filter that doesn’t infuse my past hurts and hang-ups when I interact with my son. But rather, a filter that infuses the potential for the future. Like glasses that help me see things to come. In other words, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m intentionally creating a filter that allows me to see a future man that is secure in himself, his God and his purpose on earth.
Let me tell you how this changes the whole dynamic. I say something like, “You need to finish eating your dinner.” It rolls off my tongue without a thought since mothering him is so habitual I can operate on auto-pilot most of the time without even hearing myself. But then his latest and newest reaction is to get highly offended, take a deep breath (which puffs up that manly chest of his), tilt his head downward, look at me from the top of his eyes and with an authoritative tone he says something like, “I’m not hungry.”
This time, because of my new filter, I recognize that the man is trying to break out of the child and I have just insulted that man by treating him like a child. I own it. I recognize that regardless of my intentions, I have to stop “babying” him and give him space and authority to transition. The sting I feel in that moment, I hold in my heart for my next session with Jesus.
These are the birth pains of a new life emerging.