Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mama, Mama, What Do You See?

Island Moon Column

Perspective is a powerful thing. Like a lens, it frames the way I see the world. The awesome thing about a mama’s perspective is that it also frames the way her children see the world, and more importantly the way they see themselves.

One of the books my kids loved when they were itty-bitty was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Eric Carle. If you’re a mama, it’s probably sitting on the shelf in your house too.

Over and over again I read it, child sitting in my lap, until the whole book was memorized and they knew which Crayola-colored animal was coming next. With repetition I taught their little eyes what to look for on the next page.

And that’s what I’m still doing. What a heavy responsibility to help them learn to see. And I’m doing it, even when I don’t realize I’m doing it.

They learn to see as I see. They follow my gaze to its focal point and fix their own eyes there. I’m not always proud of what they learn, but sometimes I get a glimpse of something that really humbles and excites me! When I see them seeing on their own.

My kiddos are learning to look for beauty. It all started the first evening I stood at the kitchen sink, looked out our west-facing front windows and got a pink and purple eye-full. “Everybody come quick! It’s an emergency!” Hustling out the door, we took in the sunset, accompanied by little “oohs” and “aahs.”

Now, I regularly hear my children catch their breath and say, “Mom, it’s gonna be a good one tonight. Hurry up!” With Pavlovian instinct, we drop everything and run, watching in wonder as the sun melts into a watery horizon, every time just as appreciated as the one before. They tell me how much God must love us to paint such beautiful sky-pictures every day. Hmm, where have I heard that before?

They have learned to see beauty for themselves.

But even more than beauty, I want to teach my children how to see the truth. When my 12-year-old piles in the minivan after school, struggling to find her place, it’s my job to help her see clearly. Throughout the day, her lens may get foggy with emotion. Her vision might be blurry with fatigue. Her perspective may be skewed on the basis of a dozen other opinions about who she is.

Gently I wipe away the grime from her lens and remind her that she is precious, unique, significant just the way she is. I tell her what she already knows is true, but has forgotten. Taking her by the chin, I lift her eyes to see her immense value again.

I help her to see what I see in her. I help her learn what to look for on the next page of her life.

And when I see something, I’ve got to say something. I’ve got to continue to point out what’s beautiful and true to my children until they learn to see it for themselves. No other human being can take the place of a mother, can see what a mother sees, and say what a mother says.

I don’t want to use my influence primarily to point out flaws and failings. Those are easy for children to see, and they often focus on them too much. Instead I want to show them who they are, and are becoming. I want to teach them to look through a loving lens at themselves and others, and find truth and beauty there.

So Mama, what do you see? I see a privilege looking at me.


What I will add to this column is that in order to teach my child to see beauty and truth, I must first and foremost teach them to see Jesus. And I cannot teach my child what I cannot see myself. Seeing Jesus must be my utmost goal as a mother. Not only is Jesus to be our focal point, but he is also the only adequate lens that gives a correct perspective on ourselves, others and the world we live in. We look to him, we look for him, we look through his eyes at our children. He alone gives us the IN-SIGHT to mother them well.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." Hebrews 12.2a

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4.18


Alisa Hope Wagner said...


This is my favorite line: "I don’t want to use my influence primarily to point out flaws and failings."

Love the postcript, as well!

Daphne Fine said...

Thanks sweet friend! I really struggle with the contents of that line. :) Working on it!