Relationships…What to Do When You Think, “What Just Happened Here?”
When was the last time you experienced a pleasantly mystifying “What just happened here?” kind of a moment in one of your relationships?
I just had one the other day.
I had made plans to grab a bite to eat with one of my friend’s daughters.
This daughter is out on her own now, working, and was passing through town.
Mind you, I have known this person for-ever.
If it did not sound trite I would say I have known her since before she was born but suffice to say I have known her since about day-three of her life.
And we have shared plenty of meals.
In her twenty-plus years of existence, we have spent many a time together, her family, herself and I, going on grand adventures near and far, as well as just sitting around the kitchen table talking about everyday kinds of things.
So, I was very excited to see her again after not having met for a few months.
Very excited…and a little bit anxious.
This was the first time that it was going to be just the two of us.
No mom, no dad, no sisters in the mix.
Just her and myself.
I was excited because I love this kid and all that she is.
I was anxious because, oh my gosh, how strange might it be without other family members adding to the conversation? What if we run out of things to say? What if it is uncomfortable? How awkward might that be?
I arrived at the restaurant before she did, so I grabbed a table.
As I restlessly awaited her appearance, I ran through a mental list of possible discussion topics (bucket list items, summer plans, shows she watches, sports she follows, new foods she has tried, etc.)…just in case.
And then, there she was.
She swooped in like the breath of fresh air she always is, and lighted upon the chair across from me.
I barely had time to jump up and impart a ‘great to see you’ hug on her before we fell into a marathon tête-à-tête.
Words flowed, laughter erupted, notions were shared, challenged and expanded. What-ifs and I-wonder-whys. Inspirations, conundrums, and perfectly beautiful moments of silence.
At the end of two hours I realized a whole new layer of the girl I once knew had been revealed to me.
When did she become this confident? How is it that her smile is so infectious? How does she know all that about world human rights? Who articulates such a strong sense of vision and mission at this age?
“Who is this girl sitting across from me?”, I thought in utter wonder and delight.
The moment was a real turning point in how I perceived someone whom I have known all their life.
Prior to this moment she had been an extension of her parents, my good friends.
Of course she had always had her own personality, ideas and dreams, but these were expressed in slightly more hesitant ways, within the parameters of support and guidance from her parents.
Of course she had been her own person, but she did not need to be independent nor was she expected to, say, make all of the decisions for the family.
She was one part of a loving unit, where everyone added their own essence to the whole.
This incredible soul had been known to me only in the presence of her family.
And I thought I knew her so well.
Now I have just been offered the gift of sight.
I have the opportunity to see more of who she truly is, who she is evolving into.
Within her family unit she is nurtured and allowed to explore things such as her developing perspectives on life situations.
Out on her own she is growing into her own wings of wisdom, freedom and responsibility.
She is integrating all of her upbringing, her experiences within adulthood and her continuing self-quest to live each day and make each choice with awareness and compassion.
Her genuine self is shining through even more brilliantly! Is that possible?
She confidently owns her decisions - the whole continuum of them - stepping up and out to claim her truth.
I have the privilege of witnessing the depth of her passions, some of which I had not realized before.
I always knew she would grow into her own, I guess I just did not expect to realize it like that over a taco dinner.
Only the day before she had been “my friends’ daughter”. This day she became her own person to me.
I must say that I am captivated by this “new” person, this soul who remains an extension of her parents while at the same time expands and amplifies her own essence, clarifying and directing her own journey.
My advice to you on this note is to take the opportunity to allow folks to be more than just an extension of someone or something else.
Get to know them as their own person, not strictly as someone’s daughter, son, mother, brother. Or only as their occupation such as the mail carrier, the teacher, pharmacist, delivery person, etc.
Invite them to be seen and heard, to evolve in the eyes of the world.
You will find many pleasant surprises along the way, and you will nurture confidence, clarity, wonder and joy in those you share such moments with.
One day soon you too may find yourself saying, “What just happened here?”