Exerting a Positive Influence

InspireDear MotionWorks Family,

It’s another month of growing here at MotionWorks! Just this month we smashed our previous record for new patient visits by over 25%! And believe it or not, we still have room on our schedule for more new patients thanks to the addition of Dr. Rebecca Van Heuklon! We even opened our last treatment room, so at this point we are utilizing all of our nearly 2,000 square feet to treat out patients in private, relaxing treatment rooms complete with dimmer switches and the music of your choice in addition to our wide open gym for functional exercise! To say we are excited about the future of MotionWorks is a huge understatement!

Speaking of statements, the month of February and recent events in Florida have brought some deep thinking to the Murphy household. Our kids are growing up, and as we were previously warned, with little kids come little problems, and with big kids, big problems. We are starting to figure this out first hand! Not that it’s a bad thing, as problems bring solutions, dialogue, and growth.

However, it has really made me think even more carefully about purposeful parenting. As our oldest is nearing double digits, am I making the most of every moment I have with her? Between sports, music, friends, and school, there isn’t much time for mom and dad anymore. And I’m sure that the values that we express in our household are being watered down more and more by the influence of her peers. So, what can we do about it? How can we make the most of every moment?

I have always cranked the tunes on our way to school. Loud, obnoxious, but uplifting tunes that help us all focus our thoughts upward toward a selfless spirit versus our human nature inward-thinking selfish spirit. It’s a great way to start our day. Whether it’s “Good Morning” by Mandisa, “Jesus Freak” by Toby Mac, or “Bulletproof” by Citizen Way, I have been totally brain-washing my kids into a heart and mind closer to Jesus Christ with every commute to and from school since pre-school. I am hoping this gives my kids encouragement for their day no matter how rough it may have started or ended, and keep our purpose of living intact so our behaviors reflect the light and love of Christ to those around us.

I have been even more intentional in the past several weeks, as the question of identity has come front and center for our oldest, and the Florida school shooting forces parents to answer some serious questions regarding what went wrong with the shooter growing up.  We all have to answer in life the following questions: Who are you? Why are you here? Are we here to make the most of life, harnessing all that we can in terms of material things and popularity to satisfy ourselves, or are we here for something more? Created in the image of a Being whose purpose far exceeds that of our own, a hope of building treasure in a place nowhere near Earth, our meaning in life has been written well before we were even born. But how to instill that in our daughter now, so she knows who she is, knows her infinite value, and that no one can take that value away, no matter what they say or do, and no matter how others treat her over the next 15 critical years? How can we prepare her for the ugliness of life, friends who are friends no longer, and hopes turned to disappointment and even despair? How can we assure her that doing the right thing is worth far more in the long run than doing the popular thing, sacrificing her values to merge with the conflicting values of her peers?  And how can we minimize the impact of the negativity that will surround her no matter where she goes?

In addition to deep conversation, prayer, and sharing Bible verses, as always, I turn to music. Can the music I play in the 6 minutes of complete silence in our car on the way to school make a difference? Just think, six minutes. That’s two full songs. How about the 6 minutes on the way home, too? That’s twelve minutes, five days a week, for 36 weeks. That’s 2,160 minutes of uninterrupted influence in just 9 months. And better yet, not coming from me, the uncool mom, with lyrics that magically coincide with our most recent conversation. Thirty-six hours of musical messaging direct to the heart (McKenzie loves music, as does everyone else in our car). She’s listening. How do I know? She’s singing along. She comments, “Oh, I love this song!” as the perfect song starts playing as we head out of our driveway. And this doesn’t even count weekend road trips, music jacked when cleaning the house, and so on.

What’s your secret of influence? We have so much influence not just at home, but everywhere we go. Are we making a positive influence? Do we leave a solid impression? Do we as adults have our identities firmly planted in something so rewarding and lasting that it’s eternal? Our kids notice right away any hesitancy and smell our hypocrisy a mile away. It’s a big job this parenting thing. Grandparenting too. But what a privilege!

So this Valentine’s Day, I struggled to decide what to give my kids. Not the candy, and not the I Love You messaging, but if I give the same old Valentine, am I giving up another means of possible influence? So, I wrote a letter to each one of my kids. A heartfelt letter highlighting the positive attributes I love about each one of them. Focused on their position in Christ, and their interaction with those around them. Specific to items they are struggling with, but praising them for what they are doing well. And of course, expressing my unconditional love as their one and only mommy. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but as I handed each of my kids their envelopes, and they opened and read their letters, their beaming smiles, laughs, and hugs back to their mom and huge “I love yous!” were all I needed to know this was far more powerful than any store-bought Valentine I could have purchased.

This month, I challenge each one of you (and myself) to keep finding opportunities to spread that positive influence to our next generation. Can we spread the love to counteract all the negativity in our culture and in our communities that seeks to drown out inspiration and encouragement, and worst of all, steal our kids’ identities as children unconditionally loved by God with an invaluable purpose in life only they can complete? A tall order, but with some thoughtfulness and pre-planning, we can take advantage of every opportunity we have to build up our kids and help them understand the importance of a life dedicated in service to God and others despite a culture enamored with self-love and promotion. After all, the only true happiness in life is a purpose fulfilled outside of ourselves, and the sooner our children grasp that concept, the more satisfying their lives will be!

Sharing the love,
Dr. Jill Murphy
Owner/Physical Therapist
MotionWorks Physical Therapy