For as long as I can remember there has always been friction between me and my mother. My parents were divorced when I turned 13, I found out that the plan was to wait until I was Bar Mitzvah (turn 13) and then my father would move out of our basement, he moved down there because he snored too loud (how dumb do parents think their children are?) and find a place of his own. I was a rebel as a child…still am…and don’t you think this fueled me even more. I am grateful for how some of the things of my past set the stage for me to become the person I am now. I know that the relationship that I have with my children is a direct result of me not ever wanting them to feel the way that I did. Like things as disheartening as looking for my parents on parents day, or when I played sports or was on stage, or whenever just seeing them come to something that I was involved in would have meant the world to me, but they never showed. I kicked a 42 yard field goal varsity football game on parents day to put us ahead and eventually win the game…one of my most prized, happiest moments and my parents were not even there to share it with. “Your parents must be so proud” I heard at least a dozen times after the game…I’m sure they would have been… If only they knew the sadness, the loneliness that statement triggered…I won’t ever forget that feeling. Even while being at those events for my children those feelings came rolling back. I would spot a child searching the audience for their parents…the sadness I felt watching them search…the hopefulness I had for them that they would spot their parents, that their parents would understand how important it is to their children for them to be there for them…the happiness I felt when their faces lit up knowing that they found them and the sadness I felt for those that never did. All we want is just that little bit of pride, that little bit of recognition for that little bit of time while we are in the spotlight that maybe we are not as big of a disappointment, as big of a failure to our parents as we think we are.
I am actively working on improving myself and the relationship with my incredible wife as well, she is living 5 hours away trying to finish out her career. The balance between family is very difficult to maintain especially as we spread out. I have rekindled the relationship with my father and Eileen (my incredible wife) refers to him as “the smartest man in the world.” Dad is always there for us lately and makes no demands on our time, actually he appreciates whatever amount of time we can spare to share with him. My mother, on the other hand, has proven to be a difficult situation. I reach out constantly to her but can only explain her attitude toward me as one of me never doing enough, spending enough time with her, giving her enough notice, calling her enough… I’m asked why I keep putting myself in this situation, why do I keep calling and reaching out fully knowing and understanding that I am only asking for condemnation, sarcasm, attitude and belittlement from her, not love, caring and understanding. While I have asked myself those same questions over and over and over again, today in my reading of “Trusting God day by day” by Joyce Meyer, I found what I believe to be an answer; Never Give Up On Those You Love. I could not endure the conflict that characterized our relationship. I believe that God spoke to my heart and told me: “Don’t give up on your mother.” If you are believing for someone you love to change their behavior, keep believing that change is possible. Do not give up on the ones that you love; as long as you continue believing, God can keep working. Your love and patience may be exactly what they need to make a complete turnaround. Love never fails. In other words, it never gives up on people. The apostle Paul describes what love is and mentions that love always believes the best; it is positive and filled with faith and hope. God is love and He never gives up on us. Let’s choose to live with that same attitude. Believe in the power of love to change and transform anything and anyone. If you are tempted to give up on something or someone, put your trust in God and believe that even if you don’t have the power to change the circumstances, He does.
I am a talker…okay pipe down…I can hear all the comments from the peanut gallery 😉 My incredible wife, not so much a talker, and there is nothing wrong with that…but when anything becomes excessive, to the point that it is hindering our freedom or hurting other people, we cannot say, “That’s Just The Way I Am.” Eileen might have to talk to me more than she might prefer to at times because that is what I need, and love requires that we make sacrifices for the sake of other people. There are also times when I would like to rattle on and on in conversation, but I notice that Eileen is not really enjoying it, so I decide to be quiet or I go find someone else to talk to.
I am starting to learn…starting to understand, that we must work with God to find the balance between being who we are and not excusing unloving behavior by saying, “That is just the way I am.” God is in the business of changing us into His image and that means He helps control our weaknesses and He uses our strengths.
Eileen and I have very different personalities and we are learning that we need to be what the other needs and yet not go so far that we lose our own freedom. I am trying to meet Eileen’s needs and she is trying do to the same for me. Eileen likes to do things that I don’t enjoy, but I still encourage her to do them…I have even started to do them with her…so she can feel fulfilled, and she treats me the same way. When a friend or spouse needs you to adapt in some area to make the relationship better, it is foolish and selfish to say, “Sorry, that is just the way I am.” We may be more comfortable and find it easier to do what we feel like doing, but we can make adjustments and still not lose our individuality. We can make ourselves very miserable and have stressed-filled lives by never being willing to change or adapt. We are all different, but we can all get along peacefully if we are willing. Ask God to help you be sensitive to the needs of those around you and give you the grace to adapt in whatever way you need to in order to walk in love with them. Trust God to help you be all things to all people.
I spend way too much time dwelling on my faults, weaknesses, things that happened that were bad, reflecting on how I wrongly handled something rather than celebrating my progress. From this day forward, I will begin to celebrate, celebrate and celebrate my progress some more! I will not focus on how far I have to go to reach my goal, but will celebrate how far I have already come.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
If your feet are larger than you would like them to be, or your body is not proportioned perfectly…don’t ever let it frustrate you again! Decide right now, “it is what it is! I am going to be happy with what I have and do the best I can with it.” See yourself as God sees you; then not only will you love yourself, but you will have the confidence and faith to be a powerful force for good in the world.
…”Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.
Willpower can be a powerful tool in the hands of a determined, disciplined person. It can help you confront any problem you have and adjust your lifestyle. However, willpower can only take us so far and then we run out of our own strength. What if instead of turning to willpower first in your time of need, you turn to God? God releases His power into you and enables you to go all the way through to victory. Now you are energized for positive change, but willpower does not get the credit for our success, God does. “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” When we turn to anything or anyone before God, He is insulted and obligated to let us fail so we will realize that “except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it”. We must learn to let God do the heavy lifting. Let Him supply the ability to energize our choices. We can choose to exercise or stop over-eating, but our choice alone is not enough for complete victory. Willpower and determination will get us started, but they have been known to quit in the middle and leave us stranded. God never quits in the middle. There are some people in the world who claim to be self-made success, but if we follow their lives all the way through, they usually end up falling apart. God has not created us to function well without him, and the sooner we learn that, the better off we will be. Start by asking God to get involved, to do the heavy lifting. Continue on with God and finish with God. What should we do when the burdens in life seem too heavy? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”