Lets face it folks, we are burning out. And our kids are burning out.
Why are we burning out?
Peaches constantly needs to be seen
Let me give you an overly simplistic explanation that says it all.
A 14 year-old girl named Everly was feeling lonely and so she opened her ipad and began posting on crackbook. She put up a really cute picture of herself with a witty caption underneath extolling her “amazing” Hawaii trip. She had no idea why she really posted that ad, but would probably answer something about ‘being real, authentic, showing the world who she is’ if asked. In truth, she was lonely.
So she posted a juicy peach to get some attention, and hopefully something that feels like connection. The responses came, mostly positive, but a bit thin. Some people reposted which means they like what they tasted (at least enough to use it to get their own “likes”). But over the next 24 hours, the “likes” and repostings dwindled. She got some dopamine hits out of it, felt a little less lonely at times, but now she was left holding the pit. Except for a few slimy strands the peach fruit was gone. “Now what? Shit, I have to make another peach.”
She stomped across the room, frustrated and pissy.
Hold on Everly, don’t throw that away.
“Why, its gross!”
Because there is a seed in there.
“Who cares,” she said and threw the pit-protected seed in the trash.
In the pit lies our loneliness
We all get lonely from time to time but our children today feel more lonely than ever. Why?
Not because they don’t spend enough time with each other. Not because they don’t have friends. It is because they think contact comes from manufacturing juicy authenticity and having it consumed by other hungry, lonely people. But being consumed by others is not quite fulfilling. And having to constantly hustle for our worthiness is exhausting. We are all burning out.
The problem is we don’t want to open up that pit. First of all, it is hard and has sharp edges. Acknowledging how much anger and bitterness we have—how much self-protection we walk around with everyday—is difficult. But even more challenging than that is confronting the vulnerability in that soft seed underneath. The pain, the loneliness, the feelings of unlovability. Feeling these parts of ourselves is really uncomfortable. We can do it, but usually we need some support. We often need to share it and have it held by another person.
But that brings up another HUGE wave of vulnerability. This is a fragile seed, exposed and easily damaged. Forget it. Close the pit back up. I’ll just make another peach.
Now I know our scientists are probably working on it, but humans are not designed to make peaches. It takes us enormous effort to keep manufacturing fruit for consumption. This is decidedly an example of overdoing it.
The problem is that we don’t trust Life enough. We don’t trust the essence of who we are enough. We feel we have to take matters into our own hands far more often than we do. We have been raised in a culture of scarcity and put on a treadmill towards artificial and empty successes. We are walking in place inside a suburban-beige living room and wondering why we are so bored and unfulfilled.
It is time to raise our children in ways that restore the natural balance that life intended.
Self-images have a place. Ego has a place. Defenses have their place. But so do our God-given feelings of fear, loneliness, and pain. These are the doorways into the territory of vulnerability. They are tunnels to the divine. All of our most beautiful human qualities lie in wait across these unknown and forboding lands. But we must be willing to relinquish control—at least a little bit—in order to be baptized in the waters that lie on the other side.
I want to raise my sons with a balance of willfulness and willingness. I want to support the growth of a healthy ego with a set of accurate self-images. But mostly I want that ego to know itself as a process, not a fixed, static thing. I want it to know its true place in the universe—a servant of Spirit sent here to learn, grow, and serve the world.
I want the ego to know it is born of Love and is made of Love through and through. I want it to get thwarted every time it hustles for Love; I want those experiences to register as unfulfilling. Belonging and worthiness only bless when we relax into them. They are gifts woven into the fabric of our being.
And I pray for a relaxed authenticity in my boys, for the unique expression that they are to emerge naturally moment by moment. As much as possible, I want to surround them with people who celebrate that and know that form of authenticity as the place where true intimacy is found. I want to teach Kai and Bodhi how to handle vulnerability with care. I want to teach them to recognize it, and to honor it wherever and however it is encountered.
And equally I want to honor moments of harshness and defensiveness for the wake-up call that they bring. Some vulnerability has been left alone in the dark. Lets go and find him; he needs us. I want nothing to be left out. Wholeness, not perfectionism, is my prayer.
And so I now find myself deep in the conversation: How am I relating to vulnerability? How am I still compulsively defended and controlling? How much am I willing to let go and let God?
I’ll keep you posted.