Friday, June 23, 2017

Mending

One time, our former priest at Saint Thomas More said in his homily that when we point a finger at someone else, there are 4 fingers pointing back at you. I thought about that statement when I read today's "Moments with You" email - the link is below. The gist of the brief essay is that everyone has family issues and, sadly, I am included in the "everyone" in that sentence.

I'll try to keep this brief and without excessive personal details. On Father's Day, at 9:18 AM, Dad called me. He said he had 4 tickets to the US Open in WI on Father's Day but didn't ask me to go with him because he didn't think I liked golf. I am not a die-hard golf fanatic - I haven't played in 2017 - but I have played golf each summer since around 1994 or 1995, either with the Mount Mercy College group or with Louie, my father-in-law. I can only recall playing golf with my dad once and the reason I remember that is because it was July 1998. I was working at Jordan Systems in Cedar Rapids as a technical writer. It had been a dream job from the day I started in February 1998 but now, the company was having financial issues. Karen was pregnant with our second child and I felt like I needed to make a change. I remember talking to Dad about this on the golf course and wanting his advice. I've played a lot of golf over the last 21 years - I remember that round. And yet, it came to be that on Father's Day 2017, Dad told me he had the 4 tickets but had asked my brother (a given in my head), a family friend that I've known all my life (another given in my head), and a guy from Dad's golf group (I guess he would be the 'short straw' but I know he and Dad are friends so I know it made sense to Dad to ask him). He said, "You didn't want to go, did you?" and I said, "I would've liked the option to choose." I could hear in Dad's voice that it dawned on him, at that moment, that he had made a mistake and hurt my feelings. He asked if anything was new, I said no, and that was the end of the conversation - I haven't spoken to him since, which is par (hee hee!) for our relationship. One other interesting tidbit is we talked for 6:35 minutes, which is likely a record length. When I hung up, I cried because Dad didn't choose me. I went upstairs and hugged Karen and told her I loved her. She was upset and insisted that I call Dad back and to tell him I was hurt, but I refused to do so. In hindsight, I know doing so would have hurt his feelings and I really really try to not hurt other people's feelings, though I know I have not always done so.

There are three principles that can help me in dealing with this and other family issues I have not mentioned in detail on this blog: 
  1. Realize you're not alone. Sibling difficulty was an issue in the very first family—something between Cain and Abel, as I recall—and it continues to stain most families today as they age and expand. What you're dealing with is unfortunately more normal than abnormal.
  2. Stop trying to change them. If you have a tendency to be the 9-1-1 rescue responder, resign from that role. Put your trust in a big God, and turn the job over to Him. He's good at it. 
  3. Forgive them. Resist resentment. Stop punishing them. Give them the grace and mercy you have received from the Lord, and choose to love them, even if it must be from a safe distance.
Maybe if I adhere to those principles, life will find its way to calm and serenity. Here's the link to the article: Big Brothers and Sisters.

Editor's Note: This seems relevant to the above: https://www.thoughtfortoday.org.uk/anger-2/

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