A few years ago we took a family vacation to the Black Hills in South Dakota. We toured museums and viewed mountainsides that had been carved into art and we played.
One day, after stopping in at a university to see yet another display of fossils and rocks and bones, we had lunch on the grounds. I’d packed sandwiches and such, and because we didn’t see any Keep Off the Grass signs, we spread it all out and picnicked. People were coming and going so it was a little like picnicking in a fish bowl. I was mildly uncomfortable because that’s how I get whenever I am doing something that causes people to look at me. I imagine their disapproval. I wonder if I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.
While I’m sitting on the grass, handing out the food and imagining all that criticism from all those passing people, I look over and see Carter. Eating his sandwich. On the lawn. Where people can see him.
My husband and my children don’t have the same hangups that I do. They don’t think the same way. They don’t wonder or care, usually, what other people think. They say things like:
You’re imagining it, or
You’ll never see these people again so who cares, or
If it’s really a problem, someone will tell us to stop.
My husband and my children, because of their whatever attitudes, seem to have a lot more fun. They seem to live more freely. They try things more easily. They do things like:
Going to a movie alone, dressed in his Hallowe’en costume complete with creepy-eyed contact lenses, just because he wanted to and couldn’t find a friend who could go with him. As a teenager, I would have never done that.
Taking up interesting hobbies, like knitting, even though he might be teased for it. I still have a hard time doing something for which I might be teased.
Developing their personal tastes in things like art and music, even though they aren’t typical interests among their peers. This one, I understand.
I’m getting better at all of this. I’m getting better at caring more about what God thinks and less about what people think. Oh, what freedom! I’ve been able to say no sometimes and to be, for the most part, okay with what others might think about it. I’ve also been able to say yes to some things I wouldn’t have said yes to before. Nice.
I keep this picture of my uninhibited, creative, sandwich-eating boy on the desktop of my computer. It reminds me to let go of the fear of being criticized, and to embrace the joy of living in the moment.
Thanks, Carter, for showing me how to really eat a sandwich.