Friday, July 9, 2010
WHAT IS YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY??
"A loving person lives in a loving world...everyone you meet is your mirror."
~Ken Keyes, Jr.
Perhaps it isn't how much time you spend on something, but how much of it is infused with your spirit. Where we are, and what we do, and the lives we touch are our autobiographies.
My autobiography is with 'my' soldiers and the people I truly hold, and have held, closest in my heart. Where is yours?
Sometimes and most times, our autobiographies are full of the ouches in life.
I have a friend who recently received a lengthy text message from his son. Without going into details, it was horrific and ugly. It was hurtful and meant to be so. It was unwarranted and hateful. What would you do in this situation? My friend chose to write him back and tell him he was sorry he felt that way and signed it "Love, Dad." This was infused with spirit. It was also infused with a necessary kind of letting go.
There are times when that is all we can do. Let go. It can be our undoing or our salvation. We have the ability to accept it, let go, and choose how we accept it. We can serve as an example, or we can buckle. We strive to do the best we can, but when we are sabotaged at every crossing, and especially by an adult child, we are left with few choices but to let go.
Our children, for the most part, are born out of love. We can choose to create our children in our image or guide them toward growing into someone they are not. However, there are biological limits as to how we can mold our children in either case.
We all have expectations for our children that aren't fulfilled. But we do have a choice as to how we accept this. Being condemned by your own child is extraordinarily hurtful and unjusifiable whatever the reason. There is nothing cleansing or therapeutic to this parent bashing. There comes a time when we no longer have the obligation to honor them. We can love them, but they have violated the privilege of being honored and respected.
When a child puts his or her parents down it diminishes the child. Where is the child's sense of self-pride? According to Alexandra Stoddard, "Anger toward a mother or a father, no matter how excusable, ultimately becomes an expression of self-loathing. Anger is temporary insanity; until we choose to let go of it, we'll never be free to build a different, less troubled life."
We have all known, as Stoddard says, "parents who give their all to their children, only to suffer the disappointment of having raised ungrateful, unproductive parasites." Children who are self-indulgent, and ungrateful and "entitled" expect everything to be done for them. They party, they play, they spend endless hours texting with an ipod in their ears, they sleep late, they have no job (nor are they looking), they are angry because the money isn't coming into their lives fast enough, they are given an expensive new car and demand money for a trip to Europe. What happens when the child graduates college and dad has stopped paying the frivolous bills to a child that requested a 'salary' for going to college!?
A child's misery isn't always the parents' fault. No family is perfect. The passages are rough and often grim and painful, involving hardships and hurdles.
Conversely, another friend wrote me about his son who made a decision to spend his entire summer in Honduras on a working missionary trip with his college friends - giving back!. His dad emailed me today with photographs of his son in Honduras and wrote, "I have been growing all summer from looking at the place where C. is physically and mentally and seeing pictures of the work that is going on there and the joy that is being shared there-- and it doesn't come from ipods, fancy cars, endless texting and lots of money." Now this young man is infused with spirit. And his dad is extraordinarily proud.
Two fine fathers - two different outcomes. They both have demonstrated unqualified love to their sons. For the first eighteen years parents instill values in their children that will help them cope with life. After that and the child is free, that responsibility is over. Parents should find that their children will grow up to feel the same sense of responsibility, obligation, respect, and commitment for their parents that their parents had for them the first eighteen years. Some parents become dependent on caring for and nurturing their children long after it is appropriate. As Stoddard continues, "There could be many reasons to cling too tightly: a parent is divorced, widowed, or locked in an empty marriage." Lives change and families change. It can be a beautiful testament to possibility when lives change for the better. Another lesson for our children.
Sometimes, for some parents, it is hard to accept our children for who they are and to realize that ultimately we must let go. What is your autobiography?
Life goes on - choose how!!!
"Only when we no longer have a great need for the nurturing support of our parents will we be able to choose to love them as individuals in their own right."