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Selective Hearing Or Sifting Through Words?



How crazy is it that someone actually created a book that was simply full of names for expecting parents choose from?! It’s the idea everyone wishes they had! Yeah, someone knew the inability of future parents to come up with a name for their child on their own! Alan and I actually paid for one of these books!

While pregnant with our first child we combed through the “name book.” We tried out names, looked at what the initials would be. We played with how the name might be teased, what rhymed with the name and so on. Name after name was crossed out.

We didn’t know the sex of the child (well my intuition knew). A strong-feminine name was a requirement if it was girl (spoiler alert, it was). We settled on “Lynn” (sorry, not her real name). At the time I didn’t personally know a “Lynn.” After having been a Youth Minister for years, there were many names that held various associations for me. Lynn held none.


Our beautiful baby girl (sacred human blob) finally arrived. While holding her for the first time a question unexpectedly popped up in my brain, “is this what a Lynn is?” It was an odd feeling talking to this baby and calling her “Lynn.” I didn’t share this thought with anyone at the time. It didn’t feel very parental to admit such a thing. I decided that the more I used the name for her, the more she might become it!

Today, that name conjures up the most incredible and heart-warming images!


Two years later and pregnant with our second child the name game begins again. We liked the name “Reily.” (Again, not the real name) It had a soft tone to it, and I envisioned a quiet child. I did not know any “Reilys” at the time. Two days before I went into labor, I encountered a rather loud and boisterous “Reily.” Maybe she was outside the norm, I thought. (Not a chance I came to find out!)


Our second beautiful baby girl arrived with a nice quick labor! How kind of her. I would pay for that later! I watched as nurses took all her measurements and checked her over. Soon she was wrapped in a blanket and given to me to hold. The oddest words were inserted into my heart at that moment. “She is not yours.” WTH? I just did give birth to her. But again, I heard words, a bit differently this time, “she doesn’t belong to you.”


I pushed those words down and never told anyone of that experience for 16 years! Looking back, I am glad I received these words and not Alan! He’d be going, “what, whose is it?” And I’d be like, “really, it is yours!!” Later those words were helpful. Reily is God’s child, I needed to know that through the difficult times!


As unique as each birth is, so is each child. We may have given them a name, but we by no means own them. They are born as spiritual beings that we are charged to nurture; with a personality that is theirs for us to encourage. What an overwhelming task! I am thankful for the people who have formed a village around them, helping us with this responsibility.


As siblings, the uniqueness of each child provides an opportunity to learn about and appreciate other people’s differences. Of course, in the moment I don’t think the word “appreciate” is a term my children employed! But as young adults it has become obvious that they can honor the different ways that people process information and experience the world around them.

As a parent I have learned from each of my children!

Following a piano competition Lynn was upset that the judge failed to make notes regarding where improvements could be made. In my brain I was thinking, “wow, what a performance! Not a critical word written.!!” Her brain registered this differently. Lynn’s comment to me was, “The only way I know what to work on and improve upon is by receiving constructive criticism.” This from a 9th-grader.

Just goes to show you how different we are!

The opposite end of this is allowing criticism to enter into your very being. Having one’s work, hair, or things you like criticized can be painful. But at some level, when at a healthy place, one can realize the remarks people make may reveal more about that person speaking then the one the remarks are aimed at. I am not getting into the area of bullying here.

Reily has tended to absorb the critical remarks. When someone says something critical it is difficult for her to process “well that is their opinion, or hmm, that is something to think about.” The comments are taken personally and truly become part of her inner self and energy.

This is not all that unusual. However, it is a quite damaging way to move through life. It is something that, once recognized, can be challenged and changed.

There is the option of sifting through the comment and giving back the words and thoughts because that do not belong to you and are not a part of you. The more one practices this, the easier it gets over time. One’s self-awareness and self-esteem can grow through this process.

I have practiced this over the years. I will always struggle with weeding out criticism. When I am really sensitive to something someone says, I first examine myself. Why is it I am taking the what I heard so hard? Sometimes I am just at a yucky place with myself. Sometimes I am tired. Sometimes things just hurt. But then, I do the sifting. Keep what is real, mine, and healthy, then gently give back to others what is theirs.

Oh, I don’t wad the words up and through them back. I gently recall what was said and using my imagination, float them back to them. It is a form of prayer for me. Giving the words back knowing that the Spirit is at work. When that person is open, they will gain the enlightenment meant just for them. I hope people would do the same for me.


I need to gain wisdom as well!

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