How a Pair of Ripped Pants Woke Me Up to the Sanctifying Power of Other People

Ann Voskamp | 8/20/2018 | Staff
chicana948 (Posted by) Level 3
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Some of the toughest situations in which to manifest vulnerability and empathy involve the people we happen to love most.

I realized this truth afresh on a recent Wednesday morning before school.

Issue - Pair - School - Pants - Pairs

At issue was a pair of school pants. Or two pairs, to be precise.

That morning Jack had pulled on a pair of pants that had a rip down one of the legs.

Austin - Reason - Honegger - Girls - Leggings

We live in Austin and all, but I can still be a little old-fashioned. For the same reason that you will never spot any of us Honegger girls wearing leggings as pants at the airport, I didn’t want him wearing ripped pants to school.

An atmosphere of judgment instead of compassion shuts down the opportunity for us to stay connected to ourselves, and by extension, to others.

Clock - Meeting - Jack - Clothes - Hey

With a ticking clock and a meeting I needed to get to, I asked Jack to change clothes. Except that I didn’t exactly ask. Asking would have been wise: “Hey, buddy, those pants are ripped. Would you please swap them out for the pair that’s not ripped instead?”

No, what I did was more in the realm of demand. “You are not wearing ripped pants to school. Go get your pair that’s not ripped. I’m already running late!”

Jack - Kitchen - Bag - Purse - Keys

As Jack stood before me shell shocked and refusing to change, I scurried around the kitchen, grabbing my laptop bag, my purse, my keys, and muttered, “You don’t want to change your clothes? Really? Then I’ll just take away every pair of pants you own.”

Moments later, Jack fled to his room, but not to change his pants. When I found him moments later, he had dived headfirst into his bed, blanket overhead with feet sticking out where his head should have been, and now refused to speak. My anger only grew.

Flight - Disconnection - Silence

Flight. Disconnection. Silence.

I felt like Mom of the...
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