In a conversation while watching TV, my husband and I reflected over the death of the TV sitcom. Streaming has killed mainstream TV, and the idea of sitting down with kids to just watch a family TV show seems dead. Gone are the days of shows like Who’s the Boss, Family Matters, and Growing Pains.
Growing Pains…not just physical, but those emotional ills we go through when anything in life or relationships change. That’s what the show was all about.
It’s what life is all about. And throughout mine, I’ve had my fair share. Even well into my late 30’s and even as recently as a couple years ago. As just like the sitcom, Carol, Mike, and the others had the Seaver parents; and I had people who helped me, guided me, and truly wanted the best for me as I was growing through them.
One is a colleague I look up to. I admire her and her professionalism. In a conversation this week, we were discussing some of the challenges for the new school year with staff changes; one of them being the previous week’s meeting that I had been asked to lead. The one that had not gone as planned. I told her how a few years ago I probably would have left that room crying, and cried about it for days; but these days I no longer take things that are not about me personally. Her response was unexpected. One I was not needing to hear for validation (though in the same years I would have needed that, too), but confirming in a way.
“January, you are exactly right. You have grown so much. It’s been so awesome to watch you develop into such a great therapist, and a really strong leader.”
I was humbled. Coming from someone who five years ago, scared me to death…yes I was humbled.
And I said as much-that she used to scare me-because five years prior I had sat in her office as a resident in counseling with 2 years of overdue paperwork needing signatures. Having not attended any groups in the last three months, because I was meeting the requirements of everyone else around me, and not the path of the career I said I was passionate about. Her promise to never sign another overdue quarterly report after that date stuck with me, and I vowed to myself I would never turn in another one late. And I didn’t. I also never missed another group supervision. I made sure my placements knew those were monthly commitments I had to meet as part of my residency. She was right-I could have sat there and made excuses. I could have given up. But I didn’t. I owned it. Fixed it. And didn’t do it again.
Now…I’d like to say I never made another mistake I had to be held accountable for, but then I would also have to tell you I am superhuman, and I am not. I have had to own my junk. Fix it. And suffer some growing pains. And each time someone has been there who has truly wanted the best for me. Someone has had to show me the crack, the area needing growth, and push me to fix it.
And we hear that a lot: “I am telling you this because I want the best for you,” or “I wish you the best.” But does everyone? And how do you know the difference? Because there is a difference.
Here’s an illustration to help you:
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. John 21:15-17
Jesus gave Peter instructions and asked Him to serve Him, as He had been instructed to do previously. If you love me, you will go on serving as you have before; but you will change your behavior.
Leaders, friends, loved ones who want the best for you-don’t hold your past missteps against you. Jesus didn’t do that to Peter. That colleague had not even remembered those reports-I had. She had just silently been watching me grow.
Those who want the best may have to call out a fault. A blemish. May have to ask you to correct a mistake, or an area of growth, but they do so in gentleness, in love, and with the understanding that you have the opportunity to make it right, and even get better. It’s not to hold these wrongs over your head for later. They don’t yell at you, or shame you. Or keep them in their back pockets as ammunition to keep you from moving forward later.
Those who want the best SEE the best. Potential. And not just the products of your mistakes. They can’t wait for you to bloom into what you will become. They even want to help you do it.
Now, those who really don’t want what is best for you…but maybe for them?
At first, they tell you the mistake is no big deal. You are forgiven. You have some time to make this right, and may even encourage you with a plan. But then it shifts.
They keep a record of your wrongs. Like receipts. Adding them up to list them each time you mess up. They remember that meeting 5 years ago, and won’t let you forget it. They even remember why you were there.
They see a crack. And instead of gently talking to you about it; they expose it. With maneuvering of others in front of you and your gifts, desires, talents. They may even poke at it to expose the weakness more.
Those who want what is best for them? They want competition. If you do happen to fix the crack? To move forward? Bloom? Grow? Despite the adversity? Don’t expect an ally. Expect the silent treatment. And an all out lack of support. These people may even just ghost you.
These are the people who would have never went to Peter and asked him to feed their sheep, but would instead be talking to the sheep about Peter. Or would have already replaced Peter with a new first mate.
You get it now?
Those who want the best for you, sometimes don’t get to have the best conversations; because they are the ones willing to have the tough ones.
The ones that may cause pain, but instill growth.
The ones that may hurt a bit, but are necessary for change.
The ones that reveal cracks, but are crucial for repair.
These are the best.
Don’t be afraid of those who challenge you. Because they are the ones who just may be conduits of your strongest growth. Those are the ones who want the best.