By Phyllis Moyes
Recently, a Christian friend of mine sent me a TikTok. As I watched it, the truth of its message encircled my heart. It began by asking a simple question: "Do you know how most whales die?" Hmmm, I thought, sharks? Fishermen? Disease? Nope. Nope. Nope. They drown. The TikTokker @russelldafourth is a Christian minister, and he said, "they spend their entire life living in and swimming in a world that eventually kills them...Whales live in a world they are not of; they are in the water, but not of the water. So while other fish can swim around for their entire life, with gills breathing in the water, the whale has to come up out of the water to live. There is a life source that is not in the world that he lives in that he needs access to."
You see, whales are mammals; just like us, they need air to survive.
I am a Christian, and I believe this message applies to all of us. Regardless of religious preference (or lack of one), we need a higher power (God, Yahweh, Jesus, Brahman, The Universe, Allah, etc.), and we must prioritize our spiritual health and mindfulness. For me, it is reading scripture, praying, and meditation. For a friend of mine, it is meditation and yoga. How you choose this connection to God/Higher Power is up to you, and your way may look different from my examples. It doesn't matter; the critical thing is that you do it. Keep reading, and I will tell you why.
I remembered another fact I had read about whales many years ago. It came from a book titled, The Book Of Nurturing: Nine Natural Laws For Enriching Your Family Life, written by Linda and Richard Eyre. In the book, they give parables for raising children; number three is the Law of the Whales. This law pertains to how whales speak within their families, creating phenomenal teamwork. The Eyre’s wrote, "The gentlest, most tender, and touching humpback song seems to be the one a mother sings to guide and encourage their baby calves. Humpback babies are born far below the surface, and the first challenge of the new mother is to lift and nudge her new child (with her nose) to the surface, where it can draw its first breath of air. Those who have witnessed this nurturing act say they will never forget the mother's song that goes with it, a song of love and confidence."
Isn't that a beautiful illustration of love and nurturing? I can envision myself feeling a little panicky shortly after giving birth, doing all I can to ensure my babe makes it to the top of the water so they don't drown in the world they are not of. I am singing my best song, you know, the one that is full of confidence, assurance, and love. And then we both crest the water - my baby breathes, and I breathe.
But here is the rub: Sometimes, I feel my proverbial lungs will burst because it has been too long since my last spiritual/mindful breath; can you relate? It is not because I don't know where to find it, how to do it, or because it isn't lifesaving. Instead, I have over-committed myself with cares of the wrong world, worrying, stress, wasting time, judging and feeling judged. These characteristics are fish traits, not whales. The bad news is numerous “fishes” are vying for my and my child's attention, but they only supply water, which will never save but instead dooms these lungs to death. We need AIR to live -- Quoting @russelldafourth, "YOU are IN this WORLD, but YOU are NOT OF this WORLD."
Mothers, we are irreplaceable examples to our children. Teach your babies what source they can depend on for the Breath of Life; they are watching you.
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
But we all know that looking for the good is so much easier to say than to actually put into practice because it is easy to see what our children are doing wrong. And negative behavior begs for our attention.
So, we have to be conscious of our responses, because, honestly, who wants to be yelled at all day? Not me! It certainly is not motivating and it destroys that feeling of love that we are all trying to achieve, faster than a speeding bullet!
So, what can we do instead to with our families that will put this truth into good use?
A better idea is to “catch” them doing right! Here are four ways to help us do that. I’m sure you could find more! I would suggest doing one or two at a time so as not to be overwhelmed as well as to add a spark of enthusiasm which generally accompanies something new:
Words of Praise
Let’s say that you’d like a peaceful atmosphere in your home and it seems at times like it is anything but that. Try looking for those rare times when they are getting along. We might say something like, “I’m hearing such kind words from the back seat. Thank you!” Or, “Look how well you are getting along! I’m proud of you!” “I like how you’re sharing your toys!” The tricky part is remembering to notice those positive moments. One way to accomplish this is by making a picture in your home hang slightly crooked. Each time you walk by and see it, it becomes a quiet reminder that now would be a very good time to catch your children doing something good!
Jar of pom-poms
Choose an area of focus where you’d like to see improvement. It’s even better if you choose it as a family so you have their input and buy-in. We worked as a family at one point to encourage the phrase, “I would love to” when someone, usually a parent, was asking for help with something or reminding them to do a certain chore. What a difference this phrase made as it began to shape our attitudes towards serving each other with love rather than having to be coaxed or begged with a put-out attitude. When the person said the phrase, “I would love to,” they went over to the jar and put in a pom-pom. And when the jar was full (and our hearts were fuller) we all celebrated by going out for ice cream! You might want to do the same thing and change it up a bit depending on your family’s needs.
The Family Book of Honor
In my children’s elementary school, they occasionally had assemblies where a few students were chosen to sign the school Book of Honor. We adopted this idea for our family by nominating people at dinnertime to sign the Durfee Book of Honor, and with it, to write down the great deed they did. Although we only did this for a short time, I must admit that it was fun to have a record of so many good deeds. And it created a feeling of warmth in our home, of looking for the good in others, cheering on the achievements of others, and of striving to do well.
While this idea could work well for any number of improvements, I think it is particularly good in raising children to be strong, good, and valiant. The idea is to choose the values that you’d like to emphasize in your family. Make a few certificates and concentrate on one area each week. Maybe you’ll want to announce the winner of the week at a family dinner and post in a place of prominence – perhaps on their bedroom door or bathroom mirror – someplace where they will see it often and be reminded about just how good they are. I can’t remember where I got this idea from. Maybe it was from one of you? And maybe I made up some of them. At any rate, here are the ones I ended up settling on. You might find others that suit your family’s values:
* Self Starter Award: For someone who took the initiative, saw what needed doing and did it without being asked, or went the extra mile without being asked.
* Neat as a Pin Award: For someone who kept their room clean, straightened up, put things in order, etc.
* Leader for the Right Award: For someone who stood up for what they believed, resisted “following the crowd,” tried to influence someone for good, etc.
* Ice Breaker Award: For someone who made a new friend, started an interesting conversation, asked a question, gave a thoughtful compliment to someone, etc.
* What Would Jesus Do? Award: For someone who remembered to ask this question during the week, and, as a result, consciously made a good choice or decision.
* Peacemaker Award: For someone who helped our home to be a place of peace and love. “Blessed are the peacemakers – for they shall be called the children of God.”
Let’s admit it. We all like to be noticed and praised for the good we do. So instead of letting our families flounder by fishing for compliments, let’s strategize and guide our families as we charter new waters together. As we make a conscious effort to look for the good, we can tackle family problems and with a little love as bait and hook, validate their efforts and reel in a good catch!
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