Friday, May 28, 2010

Three score and ten...the path changes again.

[For me, everything is related. It was comforting to learn that information processing differences are common between the sexes- -I can lose most women too! "I chase rabbits," "I'm spacey..." This model distinguishing men in general as compartmentalizing, and women in general as weaving everything together in a giant web... this one works for me! If you can't follow my thoughts here... you may be looking for a point that simply doesn't exist- -I'm just sharing how my gut has tied things together... THEN, at the very last minute, MAYBE there will be a pont- -a conclusion- -but maybe not. I'm still in the middle, so there may not be enough information yet to really reach a conclusion... If it drives you crazy, you may want to just step to the next blog... if you can put up with the tension, MAYBE this will help you understand the poor folks in your world who may proces like ME! ]

The people who live with us often make us the victim of their worst assets. But before you agree to wholeheartedly, it does work both ways. Lately I've said mean things to my kids... always with the hope that they will cowboy up and take on life's challenges in a different way... And my kids have been down right cruel to me! ...but they have also been sweet and understanding ...probably not always trying to manipulate me!

Well, two years ago, even two months ago, I was sandwiched between kids and parents... but now I'm free? Sort of. It doesn't feel at all free. Losing parents - -even standing by as they lose significant abilities--is NOT UNlike birthing babies. Remember those hot, somewhat uncomfortable days of pregnancy? Especially as D-day loomed nearer, no position was right! Whatever made one part of me feel good, seemed to oppress another part! ...i looked forward to delivery. THEN D-day arrived and I clearly recall telling the attendants to just let me go home, I liked being pregnant afterall- -I'd just let the baby stay in there!

I'm so glad they didn't listen! Those labor pains were rough, but soon forgotten as we wondered what was happening to my silent baby! My husband left my side to photograph what he feared were the last pictures we might have of our son... I was left to wonder alone, momentarily distracted as the OB "put that needle WHERE?!!!" We were blessed. Our son was just having precautionary procedures done prior to his first breath- -after what seemed like hours, but really moments later, we heard that beautiful cry! A cry which announced to all who would hear that he wasn't so happy about all these events either.

Whether my parents hiding their falls, or kids hiding broken nic-nacs... there is a fight going on and even though we are on the same team, it FEELS like we are enemies. Jesus used this parental loyalty to make a point, assuming all of his listeners would fully understand the analogy: What parent gives his child a stone when he asks for bread? (Matthew 7) And yet we DO refuse our children's WANTS for lots of different reasons. Rarely just to be mean.

Why is it so hard for aging parents to admit to falls, or the need for a cane/walker? Why are we able to easily admit some things but painfully avoid other confessions? is this in any way comparable to our role as child to our creator? As I'm sandwiched between parent, spouse, and child, ALL of these relationships are full of my best intentions... rarely does anyone see my intentions, they react to real stuff and ASSUME my intentions.

I have admired for years BOY SCOUT parents who withheld the driver license until AFTER their boy had earned Eagle. I adopted that goal. It was a reasonable challenge for my son. If he achieved Eagle Rank at say 14, he would be able to proceed to get his license on schedule (not at 14) according to state law. but if he dawdled, then at 16, he would have to wait. Eagle is a way of pulling together all of the strengths & interests of a scout, adding some new skills and use leadership skills to not only accomplish the rank requirement, but to give something significant to the community... in the process, everyone sees the character of the fledging Eagle and the eagle develops a new confidence in his ability to work together with others to accomplish big things! OH, such a lofty goal! My son was on board for a while... he was on schedule to complete the challenge... but somewhere along the way, the process became something I was forcing on him. was it mean to force him? was it mean to let him quit? parents face this decision all the time: sometimes it's sports or music lessons, cleaning their plate, cleaning their room, cutting their hair, getting ears or whatever pierced, going to church... how do we make the decisions? when do we yield to the child?

For me these decisions are very hard. Sometimes I just abdicate my responsibility and just walk away from the decision... often I've done that. It doesn't work. With my parents there were lines I just couldn't cross- -afterall these folks are adults! I was assured that I'd know when it became time to "take the keys away." Knowing the TIME doesn't make it any easier. Arguments that challenge motives... WHY? Why would I want to add dependent adults to my list of things to do? For that matter, why would we not rush to give everyone of our kids freedom so we don't have to drive them and schedule our lives to include them? WHY? Given a little space, I still recall the pain- -My Dad saying I wanted to belittle him by keeping him dependent... my son saying that I want to refuse to let him grow up... maybe not in so many words: both grasping for independence and control, one wanting change, the other struggling to hold on to status quo.

I'm forced into a place of responsibility- -even decsion making, while I also struggle feeling that EVERYONE wants a piece of me! Oh, the joy of being needed! this is the sandwich... often it's a jam sandwich all of us jammed into a situation with little room to breathe nor time to think... and it's NOT new.

The Bible is filled with some pretty raunchy stuff. It's real life. A father gets drunk and sons disrespect the him... a brother takes his step sister to bed- -no marriage, only the forbidden calling like a barker at the midway. A wife seeks to betray her husband, but when refused, she lies and has the servant thrown in prison! A grandmother, so jealous of her thrown that she has her grandsons killed... A father who is so concerned that his older daughter will never marry, that he gives her in marriage through a trick- -to the man who loves his younger daughter... a man so angered at the oppression he sees that he kills a man... another man reacts impulsively and cuts off the ear of a soldier...

Just when i'm convinced that i'm a failure at whatever, God reminds me of some folks who really blew it: a guy in lust with the girl next door arranges to have her, seeks to hide his act, and then arranges for her husband to be killed so he can marry her! THIS guy is the one God chooses... prostitutes, bad fathers, thieves, adulterers, politicians, are among the others chosen! While God sent his onlybegotten Son to live here without sin, he chose to use many flawed characters in spite of their poor choices. So while I'm obsessing over whether to allow this or that... and replaying past conversations again and again... opportunities to make a difference are lost.

Life is like that. Ups and downs... Distractions that rip our attention from those things that SHOULD be central, and lead us down a path of discontentment... Sometimes we act badly. We may say or do things that hurt others and being so self-absorbed, we are oblivious to the pain we've caused. IF we realize what we've done, we MAY head down yet another distracting path- -beating ourselves up, rolling around in guilt and remorse. The down side can get pretty LOW.

As an individual I have needs to be needed, loved, valued... lots of needs. Food, clothing and shelter- - oh yeah, and sex. Juggling the needs of lover, friends, children and now parents: this can REALLY overwhelm. When the children are babies, dependent on us for everything, we don't really think of the need of "being needed."

Later when parents are needy, perhaps dependent, bed-ridden... or worse juggling to balance of self-control (keys or NO keys?) and dependence (unable to remember or perform the tasks that used to be second nature...) - -we're sandwiched between the love of our parents and our teens... and the added pulls of spouse, work, and well yes, church, too. "Being loved" feels more like a duty than a need.

Even "being valued" - -as folks comment what a good mother, daughter, teacher, or volunteer... THAT even becomes a source of pressure: internally, a push to be super MOM and it kind of morphs into a feeling of not being cared for who I am, but rather for what I DO... HENCE, with comments coming right and left- -POSITIVE comments- -I still felt at times like NOBODY really cares about ME!

So what is the answer? Loosing my Mom twenty two months ago, and my dad 7 weeks ago, I'm seeing those presures in a different light. I wonder if it's posible to make this adult journey without at least a few flubb-ups! We can't control what OTHERS do... we can't control many of the things that happen to us and the responsibilities which fall on our shoulders... so it's easy to FEEL that we are enslaved to everyone. In the case of our parents, we have responsibility but often very little input... and in the case of our kids... well, the same. We give input but it is often misunderstood or not heard at all... or perhaps it is heard and understood, but rejected.

What is the purpose of this journey? If we know from the beginning that it won't be perfect... are we doomed to spend the rest of our lives mourning over all the hurts and failures? I think not.

Philippians 4:8 tells us how to think. That means we have a choice. We CAN think about the good, the pure, the honest; we CAN dwell on the finer things in the folks around us. We can look to see how God is in what is happening. We can believe that God is personal, not an impersonal "higher power." We can look for His involvement in our lives and we can seek His involvement. Romans 8:28 says that He works all things together for good when we accept His call and His purposes.

My Dad died quick and that was a blessing. My Mom lingered- -and suffered a bit, bed-ridden for a mere 6 weeks... and THAT was a blessing. did God plan the way of their deaths? I think probably not, but I don't know. I chose to think that he was with us THROUGH those events and brought blessing through them.

I had an aunt who was brilliant- -after WWII, she went to Europe and learned several languages as she served in the state department (a secretary or something like that) but she also had her demons. Alcohol could put her under the table and she couldn't seem to refuse it. Alcohol probably got it's foothold because of several losses in the early years of her life. She was sweet and kind but she was also troubled. I know that SOME parts of her life were easy for her to yield to God... I suspect that she had some things that she couldn't release... couldn't accept forgiveness. before you can accept forgiveness, you must by definition admit that you NEED the forgiveness. Thants not so easy.

My mother was able to go to university and study art. her art was a personal thing and she did little to make a living with it. THIS brought great resentment from my aunt... even thirty years later near the time of her death, she continue to bemoan the fact that she had not been able to go to college and OH what she could have accomplished IF she had... release it! Let it go! before we can forgive others, we must be able to accept forgiveness.

This is really long... I wonder if anyone reads these things... if it makes any sense and if so, does it help you to sort out your life? It helps ME just to write it. perhaps it should be my DIARY, not my BLOG! i'm not sure my rabbit trails have come full circle yet, but their close... May god bless you!