I am NOT who you say I am!

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There have been countless books written about “finding yourself” and trying to be the person perhaps you were always meant to be. People can go their entire lives and never “find themselves.” Sadly, it doesn’t have to be that way!  Things would change if they would stop listening to the wrong people!

Many of you who read this column have grown up in a very “structured” environment. You may be living in the same town, go to the same church, and may even live in the very same house you grew up in. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that, sometimes that isn’t the path that you should have been on.

As a counselor and mentor, I can’t count the people that I’ve met who had such great potential. They were poised to do great things, but because they listened to naysayers and people of little vision, they lived their mundane lives and died never realizing their dreams. I refuse to be one of those people!

Having three wonderful sons, their Mother and I have raised them to be their own unique selves. We have raised them to believe that they have unlimited potential and that we will never try to hold them back. My Momma didn’t do that to her children, and I certainly won’t do it to mine!

As parents many times we try to coax our children to stay nearby to us. It may be for good reasons, but most of the time it is for our own selfish reasons. We just can’t control every facet of their lives if they move off somewhere, so we do whatever it takes to get them to stay near to home. Often, this is a terrible choice and most often than not can cause them real problems down the pike. 

As my own children begin to leave the nest to make their own way in this world, I’m reminded what a scary time that was for me. I understand completely now why my Mother made such a “sales pitch” to get me to stay near to her. She just couldn’t stand the thoughts of not getting to see my family as often. After assuring her that I would still come see her often, she agreed that it was for the best – and it most certainly was!

In many cases, our children have given us or some other prominent figure in their lives the liberty to manipulate them and steer them toward an identity that is not their own. Perhaps the parents are trying to live their own unfulfilled dreams through their children, or that teacher or mentor wants to say that they are the reason for their student’s successes. Either way, it is misguided thinking on the part of anyone who would try to change the God-given destiny of those entrusted to us to raise. 

As younger people, many of us were allowed to chase our dreams, and were allowed to fail. Failure wasn’t fatal for us, and it won’t be for our children. They must learn to fail so that they can learn valuable life lessons from their valleys. We must let them experience the valley times so that they will appreciate the mountain times!

Every so often, I sit with my sons and have a one on one conversation with them. I always ask them, “Are you headed in the direction that you’re supposed to be?” I would also ask, “Do you know who you are and who told you who you are?”

There are countless opportunities for bad influences and manipulators to get into the heads of our children. It could be a negative teacher with failed dreams of their own, or it could be someone online who sees a naïve younger person that they can take advantage of. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we talk with our kids, and find out where they are headed. 

We must never get so busy that we don’t take the time to do this. It is one of the most important things we can ever do as parents, to listen to our kids. Then after we listen to them, we must be willing to sometimes use “tough love” in order to steer them away from a bad path they might be headed on. (They will thank you later!)

We must allow God to guide the paths of our children, even if that means they have to move far away in order to fulfill their calling and their destiny in this old world. We must let them get their identity from Almighty God, and not from anyone else. It is only then that they will truly “find themselves”!

Email GarryLovette@gmail.com.