Lately my 3-year-old has been obsessed with puzzles. He lines them up every morning in order, beginning with the one he’s going to do first. He even gets out the 150+ piece puzzles–”Just to look at them, I promise,” he tries to reassure me. “I won’t dump them out.” (This is a New Year’s resolution he needs to work on.) As he painstakingly puts the pieces together, he wants me there next to him. Not to help. In fact, heaven help us all if I even think about putting a piece in its place. No, not to help, but instead to witness him putting the puzzle together. He wants me to sit by his side and encourage him when he can’t find a piece, praise him when he finishes a puzzle.
It shouldn’t surprise me that my son wants me there as a witness. After all, if I think about my own relationships, I highly value those in my life who validate my own struggles as struggles, who offer encouragement that I can indeed deal with them, and who witness my success when I manage to do so.
I’ve been thinking about that part of my role in life lately–the role of witness to others’ successes. It’s not one I have actively tried to take on, and I think I should. Sure, I sit at my kids’ sporting events and concerts and cheer as loudly as the next parent. But in our everyday lives, I don’t often take the time to act as a witness to my friends’, my spouse’s, my sibling’s, and even my children’s successes. It’s a role that I need to be more conscientious about taking on.
What about you: How has having a witness to your struggles and successes made a difference in your life or in the lives of those around you? Who do you turn to when you need a witness? How have you managed to act more conscientiously as a witness in the relationships in your life?