A couple’s 4 years from “I will” to “I do”…and I, the parenting trainer, didn’t last 1 week…

Here are the stories:

The Romance Story

This Valentine’s Day I attended an extra, extra-special wedding. Four years ago, the groom had to leave his home country, Pakistan, to seek political asylum in France. As a forthright pastor, his life was threatened. His fiancé’s was not; she stayed behind.

For years, literally, he sought ways to bring her close. Tourist, student, and working visas proved to be closed options. Finally, a little more than a year ago they both traveled to Malaysia and were wed…each to return home to respective countries with a renewed hope that legal marriage papers might provide a means to be united in Paris.

The Malaysian government declined to recognize the legality of the marriage. What?!!!!!

Yet somehow the French government did and extended hospitality to the young bride. Two weeks ago she landed at Charles de Gaulle airport. Indeed, the HAPPY couple.

Romantic wedding

The Fellowship Story

I came to know the groom through a Bible study led by our senior pastor.  Consider it an Executive Leadership Training Program where twelve of us gathered weekly for one year to read, debate, and try to better understand Scripture and its implications. After all, Biblical principles makes for smart management. Think contracts (trust), performance (love of excellence), customer care (service), teamwork (love), clarity of vision (purpose)….

Our group of disciples offered to put on a wedding for this couple. Available budget = our donations, and the wedding cake for 100 guests fell to me. My qualifications? Willingness, cake baking for and with four boys, and Google and Youtube research on ”wedding cake.” My short prayer: “Lord, please make it like the video!”

Fourteen batches of cake and eleven volumes of frosting. Difficult. But doable.

Impurfekshion (a.k.a. The Imperfect Story)

Murphy ’s Law reigned on my calendar.

Professionally, I have been developing a seminar activity and five were scheduled during the cake-baking time. In each of these I was testing something new.  As I had been working up to these for months, I felt stakes were high. Now was the time to perform, and with excellence.

In the spiritual realm, I was co-creating a Lenten Calendar to help our church families prepare for Easter. We had invited church members to contribute yet only half of the forty (yes, 40) devotionals (short thoughts on a Bible verse) had been submitted.

Formatting, editing, and production also loomed ahead. The team leader came down with the stomach flu. To meet our deadline, I stepped up. (Check out the Lenten Calendar.  Totally subjectively speaking, it’s GREAT.  Bible verses aren’t your style?  Then check out the discussion questions to generate meaningful exchanges at family meals.)

On the personal front, my father underwent planned heart surgery, followed by two unplanned interventions. In the evenings, after having coached parents through my seminars, when my eyes could no longer focus on the computer screen, and when my men had dined and cakes were in the oven, I connected with home to encourage and be encouraged. (Dad is healing.)

And on Friday, the day before the love-is-patient wedding, I barked.

And an offended person snapped back.

Clearly, my love was less than patient

Cartoon dogs barking
challenges are opportunities
Cartoon

The Hope-filled Story

One of my favorite maxims of Positive Discipline (the parenting approach that I teach) is, “Mistakes are opportunities for learning.” And one key to great learning lies in identifying wise teachers. The Valentine’s Day bride and groom taught me these four P’s of ppppatience.

Prayer

In his message to the young couple, our pastor presented the good and bad news of their union. Yay! They had overcome enormous challenges with steadfastness. Joys lie ahead, and so do difficulties. Oh, dear!

Just as divine comfort and assistance brought them to their current place, God’s presence and power will keep them going.  The pastors and couple called folk up to surround them in prayer.

For what do we pray?

This Serenity Prayer seems applicable for all times and all places: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Serenity courage wisdom

Piece-Meal

Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor, recently led a webinar on the success factors enabling the October 2010 rescue of the Chilean miners. They took one impossible problem and divided it into two difficult, yet feasible ones.

– Challenge 1: find the miners.
– Challenge 2: bring them out.

In the same way, our bride and groom first secured the legality of their union, and then procured their physical reunion.

Making a wedding cake for 100 people was daunting (a.k.a. freaked me out). Baking numerous individual cakes one at a time, and then frosting them in a strategic manner seemed manageable.

Building layer cake
Making of layered wedding cake
Yummy wedding cake making

Perspective

During the church ceremony, the bride was adorned in a white gown and the groom sported a suit. After cutting the cake, they retreated to change into traditional Pakistani outfits. The climate of the party changed. Bye bye being visitors to France. Hello feeling at home.

Whenever there is a conflict in relationships, rarely (ever) is one party 100% in the right and the other totally wrong. We are human. Each would benefit by recognizing that there is another side, and then attempting to understand it.

This deeper comprehension is one of the goals of role plays in Positive Discipline classes. Parents “take on” the role of their children and “discover” the feelings of injustice when Dad picks on the same child every time there is a fight, the babbling sound of parents harping on kids (!)…

It is eye opening—and heart expanding—experience to view a situation from another angle.

Pakistan bride

Privacy

For a moment, the bride retreated for a private photo shoot. She went off by herself. In these photos she beamed even more ravishingly.

An audience creates pressure. In privacy one can vent one’s feelings—the good, the bad, and the ugly—without blame or shame. Once these emotions are acknowledged, they can be addressed.

Exhausted, hurt, and disappointed, I had lashed out impatiently. Angry musings built up in me like waste.  Better to flush them out on my own than to have them hit the fan in public!

Here is the verse read at the Valentine couple’s wedding:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 
I Corinthians 13:4-8

And You?

– How are you doing on courage, serenity, and wisdom?  Where will you go for more?

– What HUGE family challenge could be divided into smaller ones?  What would happen if “Stop conflicts” became “Listen” then “Talk”?  Might the opposite be true right now?!!?

– Where are you trying soooo hard to get others to see YOUR point of view?  What other perspectives are out there?  (Read more) Might there be one that could be a win-win situation for all parties?

– How do you recharge?  If you are not, what is the impact on your family?  How satisfied are you with that outcome?  Maybe we are worth some alone time to do what we want.  Beauty experts tell us, “You’re worth it!”