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Encouragement at Eye Level
by mike poff
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Encouragement at Eye Level

Everyone seems to have their own areas of constricted progression. You know places where personal construction is on going and the area is more than a bit cluttered and chaotic. Emotional flagers are there flailing away for you to detour, slow down or just plain stop. Whether you call them phobias, fears or just the outside of your comfort zone, we all have them. Prolonged procrastination in them or around the entranceway can be as rewarding as being caught in four lanes of rubber-necking freeway frustration, baking in the all out August heat with a car load of agitated adolescents and testy toddlers. These are places you want to get to and go through quickly. Things get better once you do. That is until you spy the next manic banner that’s waving to contest your progress.
During one resent family vacation it became obvious that there was something encouraging to be said about how our wee ones were facing down their toddler’s trepidations together as the wide world unfolds around them.
At home we have a swimming pool. The pool is nice but has an underground pump room that has been exceptional snake habitat for many years. Much personal growth has come from this one dread area of my property but that is a story for another day. Here framed by the beauteous Blue Ridge the children splash and frolic all except for “Chesca”…
You know in all the commotion I have realized I never gave you any names for my young ones. We’ll hold off the full and formal introductions for another more focused effort. For now I can tell you Chesca does not share her siblings enthusiasm for pool partying. Interestingly she does like the ocean. For hours she was all fun and frolic on the edge of Florida’s gulf coast. At home daddy, mommy nor big sisters could coax her into anything but a large float and a lap. At the beach tiny crabs and fleeting silver minnows beware. Chesca was wet and on the hunt.
My amusement at this development was dampened a bit by Jon-Jon’s’ sudden reluctance to get wet. Jon-Jon is the blue-eyed bruiser of the group. At the pool he would dive in. He would dive on pool toys. He would dive on any unsuspecting relation or close friend and do it with glee. At the ocean, waves were unexpected and seemed more able to tumble unsuspecting toddlers than he was on one of his best days. Try as we might, neither daddy, mommy nor big sisters either were drawing him into all that froth and swell.
One morning after a good hour of catching the fleeting silver minnows and showing them to the transfixed troupe, I had everyone on the expedition expect Jon-Jon. Waves you know, a bad business if you’re three-foot three. Finally instead of making him more frustrated, I just went out deeper where the older girls were. Mom was watching the troupe from just past the break line.

In just a few moments time I looked back to the frolicking four and low and behold, there is Chesca walking Jon-Jon out talking a mile a minute. His two brothers Tan-Tan the dark-haired and entertaining and Chew-Chew the red-headed and wry were waving and chorusing, “come on Jon-Jon, its awight”. In less than five minutes Jon-Jon took the invitation we had been placing before him for days. From then on Jon-Jon was a part of the party waves, froth, fish and all.

Once again I could feel that tap on my spiritual shoulder letting me know this was more than just family fun in the sun. I realized watching my son and his siblings that we are all sometimes a bit too selective in whom we can receive and believe. Not in the sense that we should be gullible but in the sense of proportions. To Jon-Jon it was easy for six foot me to stand in the three foot swells and say it would be fine for three foot three inch him too. I was telling him the truth. What ever happened I would move all the small bits of heaven and earth I could to keep him safe but just like Jon-Jon sometimes we need more than a “big persons” assurances.

I can think of times when “big people” told me things I should have believed, advice to change friends, avoid various vices. Encouragement to focus on subjects that seemed to have no relevance to reality, as I then saw reality. People we perceive as having arrived in an area can be tuned out at the worst possible times.

Some times it takes those right there beside us to make a truth acceptable and seem desirable. Those that appear similarly hip deep in the minutia do not have to reach so far to grasp our hands. Their words can be confident whispers and their expressions warm and connecting. The truth, even the truth in love can fall short of its full impact. Unless we are finding a relevant proportion to the source from which it is flowing.

In all the fuss and fury that can be found in quad parenting, I have found the deepest compassion for those that are struggling with their efforts towards their growing bundles of joy. My wife and I both reach out all we can to encourage and edify those we find around us. My prayer is that we and our situation don’t make us appear too “Big” to be received from.

Constricted progression and personal construction can seem fearful and futile if all you hear is a voice you think is through that tunnel. How could they know what obstacles have recently arisen or just dropped down? Some times we need the encouragement of those that we feel are at our own eye level and just a step ahead to break the inertia in our momentum.

As the now fully united fab four found more fun in the sun there in the Gulf swells I was left contemplating the breakthroughs awaiting them. What part they would play in each others advance up the rising incline towards physical, emotional and spiritual maturity. How many times my wife and I might point out the preferable path but only be planting seeds others would water and reap and how many times we had already missed being a shoe horn of hope for those caught beside us just outside their comfort zones.

Prayer and Ponderance

Find a quiet moment, just you no TV, Radio, wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers. Read over these verses and take in a bit of God’s peace. Be still, be thankful and ask God to expand your hearts’ capacity for peace, patience, love and understanding. Even in the mess of this day know He will hear you and meet your need.

Galatians 6:1-6

Luke 10:30-37

Ephesians 4:1-3

John 3:11-21

Write down the first person that comes to mind when you think about sharing the struggles you have faced.

Consider how your experience and successes might encourage them.

Purpose to look for the wounded and passed by and be willing to be a shoe horn of hope to them.

Think about Jesus and His feelings about those that rejected Him and the Truth he placed at their Feet. Then read Galatians 6:9-10

Thank Him and embrace all He wants to do through you to lift up your brothers and sisters in and outside of His Kingdom. Now prepare to rejoin the wild running children, friends, spouses or co-workers and walk out your divine appointments!

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