• Athena Peña

423 Minutes...

Parenting siblings. For years people asked what I did, that my girls were so close and loved to play and imagine and draw and well… pretty much everything together. Life’s challenges did finally alter our magical little existence. I find myself at wits end sometimes, trying to impart on them the beauty of having someone, the fragility of life, and how easy we can all lose that which we take most for granted.

I know status quo says siblings argue or “it is natural”. Arguing may very well be natural, just like anger is natural and is even a Biblical topic. But our behavior while angry is of great importance in life and in siblings. My precious daughter never had an ounce of anger or bitterness, until her two years of life from age eight to ten. Our finances crumbled, causing us to move from our beautiful home into an apartment. My mother, who my girls were with daily, who never missed a recital or show or school event of theirs, died suddenly of the C word. Our apartment building burned down three days before Thanksgiving. And a year later, my now ex-husband and I separated and divorced. Oh, and I took my girls out of their very close knit homeschool/private school and moved them across country to Texas. Lastly, my new and wonderful relationship created a fear in my daughter that I would no longer love her, and that she would not be important to me anymore (which I did not find out until two years later). A deep seated sadness and anger rose up that she didn’t even realize existed, and all of us on the outside just complained that she argued and talked too much. Gratefully we worked through so much of this over the last few years, but as with anything, remnants remain.

So this morning…

Yet another car ride with me feeling the need to explain the value of life and the reality that we are not guaranteed another minute. As I rambled, I realized this time was a powerful stroke of genius, clearly divine from the Lord because I am not that smart. I pointed out that my hearts’ great desire is for my girls to understand and truly embrace the value of this moment, because God does not have to give us even one more. Each moment is an unearned gift from Him. We each have only a number of moments in our lifetime, but everyone has an end moment.

I asked the girls to think about “Grandma”… how much they still miss her five years later, still talk about her and refer to her, and how much they would love to have just a few moments with her. I asked them to think of the time before she got sick. I said, “If you knew you had only 423 minutes left with Grandma, I am 100% positive you would not be disrespectful or rude or sarcastic or any fashion of unkind.” The car held absolute silence… a rare occasion. I continued on. “If one of you knew you had only 423 minutes left with your sister, I am 100% positive you would be the kindest, most loving sister on the planet. I am positive you would not be selfish or sarcastic or speak in any way other than with absolute love and kindness. It would no longer be about the me, but instead about the person you love.” I went on to explain I knew we weren’t perfect, and none of us can live every moment with that kind of amazingness, but with practice and conscious awareness of these realities, maybe we could get into the habit of being kind and making the most of every minute God chooses to give us.

Silence? Wow!

The response was incredible. Silence for minutes and minutes. You may say, that is no response at all. I assure you, for these girls to sit in silence during and after I speak about something like this (vs telling me why they don’t qualify for the scenario), I knew I struck a cord. It was a beautiful thing. After a few moments of silence I proceeded to turn on some worship music and we went on with our day. And a fabulous and sweet and kind day spent well.

I believe this picture breaks it down a little easier for us all to see, and if we practice keeping this idea on the forefront of our minds, I believe we will respond differently in all of our relationships, especially the ones with those we love the most, spent the most time with, and end up treating the worst.

Go love your moments!

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