We missed them again.
I LOVE fireworks. For many years, I had the privilege of living in a town which had the best fireworks display/show in the country. I always had a choice to be right under them, or at a wonderful viewing place within walking distance of my apartment.
Our town keeps changing the location of fireworks. Once upon a time, we used to walk to the lake at the end of our street, spread a blanket, and watch them set off on the other side of the lake. It was awesome.
Later they moved a couple miles away. We could usually find a spot far enough away from the maddening crowds and traffic, pack the chairs and bug spray, and still enjoy them from a distance.
Now they want to push us all into a very small area, make us park far away, and take shuttles… and well, just be part of a huge messy, sweaty, mass of humanity. Not fun.
I told SK I had a plan. According to my superior map skills, I had staked out a “perfect place” to watch the fireworks. We live on a plain, so no obstructions. No trees. I’m such a genius!
We sat on the bench in the relatively vacant park I’d picked out, and the sky grew darker. And we saw nothing. We heard plenty of booms all around us from neighboring city fireworks… but couldn’t see any.
At one point I glimpsed a tiny sparkle on the horizon in front of us. I stood up on the bench. It barely made it high enough for us to see. My sense of direction was superb…
Did I mention I’m really poor at geometric reasoning? The curvature of the earth pretty much negates a clear line of vision from 5-6 miles distance.
We got back in the ragtop on this lovely evening, and drove towards them, but they eluded us. They seemed to be done, SK said. Drat. We turned around to head home… and in the rear view mirror, and all around as we headed back into the tree-lined streets of suburbia, we could glimpse at a distance the neighboring towns spectacular shows taunting us. Too far to really appreciate. The distant booms just kept taunting me.
When we got home, with me more than just a little pouty (OK, I’ll admit, if there is a baby girl thing I do, it’s pout over not getting my way). SK solicitously turned on the TV so I could watch fireworks.
“Not the same,” I grumbled.
But then I was reminded of the lovely fireworks he had treated me to that morning. And later that afternoon. Especially when he walked into our room with this:
That got my attention!
We’ve not done food much…
And I was, like this:
And his tongue, and my tongue, got a good work out..
I got over my pout quickly.
Hope you had a sizzling Fourth!
Sir Knight has often told me that he married me because I was “the smartest damn woman he’s ever met.”
This is high praise, because I think he’s one of the smartest men I’ve ever met.
SK may or may not know that this is also something the insecure and damaged little girl inside of me needs to hear, often. For contrary to popular belief among those who know me, I am very insecure. I’m so insecure I can’t even easily admit that about myself.
Growing up, I had been repeatedly told by my Dad that I was not smart or clever. Mostly I was told everything I did WRONG, and I was rarely praised or valued for doing things right. I often felt irredeemable, unforgivable, hopeless, a failure (in spite of a mom, teachers, friends, other adults who would tell me the opposite). Many years later, I knew Dad really didn’t feel this way, it was part of his warped way of “encouraging” his kids through negativity. And it had a lot to do with his own insecurities.
In a way, the negativity “worked.” I eventually went from being a B-C student to an A-B student with a graduate degree from a prestigious business school. I never earned high honors or academic awards, but I became driven to succeed. I was a quick study. I learned to project a confident and impressive image in my dress, grooming, and demeanor. I threw my shoulders back and my head tall and embraced all 5’10” of me, and dared to wear heels as well, towering over many of my colleagues (had I known Ann Coulter at the time, I think I would have emulated her image, with a little less edge). I silently dared anyone to find a flaw in me. Bosses and work colleagues respected my abilities and work ethic, the ability to get a job done, well. Boyfriends seemed impressed, proud to be with me, but often grew resentful/overwhelmed. I vowed to be perfect, invincible.
Much of the time I was scared shitless that I would be “found out;” that the ruse would be uncovered and that I’d just be “normal,” “average,” or unthinkably “below average.” I recall one of the scariest moments in my career of having to meet with foreign officials in country, and being interviewed by the press in the native language. I didn’t think my language was good enough and thought, “they are going to find me out. I’m a fraud… I’m not important enough to interview.” Fortunately, the press piece came out OK, I must’ve said the right things and made myself understood, and it wasn’t stupid or gibberish. It was a panicked moment for me, but it also showed me that a large number of people can BS their way if they had enough chutzpah (or cojones). “Smart” was a valued commodity in my field. Perhaps more than “good” or “hard working.” My colleagues probably wrote the questions for Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit Genius edition.
Being acknowledged as a “smart person” became almost an aphrodisiac for me. It was the approbation I was missing from childhood, and it became more like a drug. I had to be right. I had to be well-read. I had to be just enough up on current events. I had to seem smart in all ways. I faked it a lot. But I built up my perfection armor to the point that I almost began to believe I was perfect.
Almost. I knew deep down inside I wasn’t perfect, nor should I even think I could be.
The worst thing that anyone can say to me is that I don’t know something or I’m not capable. It’s like a matador simultaneously waving a red cape before a bull, and the picador goring it with the lance or banderillas, I become livid, infuriated, and at the same time accused by my inner voices that maybe I’m not smart or capable.
The hardest thing that I’ve learned to say in my adult life is, “I am wrong, you are right.” It feels like a death. It’s yet to feel good in an appropriately humble way.
The good news is that SK has patiently helped me over the years, waiting for me to finally back down and admit I’m not perfect. He knows my background, and he knows it’s hard for me to back down. The bad part is his incredulous and sometimes amused face with I utter this strange phrase of humility or defeat.
What has recently touched SK more than anything was after my night of “too many words,” I came to him the next morning at the kitchen table, went to my knees on the hard ceramic tile in front of his chair, and asked him to forgive me for overwhelming him with my words and frustration. It wasn’t easy to do that. But somehow I was learning that it was up to me to make things right. And it involved humility and not knowing everything. And even enduring a little lecturing from him as I knelt before him.
Sigh. Nope. Not easy at all.
But it was a good thing.
Just yesterday in the middle of a fairly mundane task, “A TRUTH” came to me.
Men like women who are smart but don’t act like they know it all.
In truth, I think we all appreciate just about anyone who is smart without having to prove it all the time. And I started to think, What the hell am I doing here, trying to prove to SK that I’m smart(er), infallible, invincible, always right? And why can’t I take pleasure and pride in the fact that I am married to a VERY smart man who often is smarter, more infallible, more invincible and more right than me?
Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln
Nope. No one likes a know-it-all. And even though most men appreciate a smart woman, what is most attractive about her is that she doesn’t need to prove it all the time. She’s secure in it, and she isn’t threatened by her man sometimes (often, almost always) being smarter.
There are dozens of Proverbs about foolish and wise lips. I need to start a study on these to remind me! Here are just a few:
“The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fools heart blurts out folly.” (Pv. 12:23)
“Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.” Pv 26:12
“Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.” Ecclesiastes 10:12
This verse often quoted from Paul to his young protege Timothy, to help people not to feel insecure about giving their Testimony is: “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
No. Timidity isn’t necessary. But love and discipline of the mouth and our pride is.
I am wrong. You are right. And that’s OK.
Repeat a hundred times.
So, nearly a week has gone by, and at least one person expressed a little concern about my absence! That’s nice to know.
It’s been a good week. I’m going to say this up front even though it might not be the most “popular” or titillating thing I can say on a blog that is sometimes sexy and profane…
I’ve been dedicating myself to praying and morning devotions.
And I see a HUGE difference.
Prayer is powerful. Perhaps it changes circumstances. However I think more than anything else, it changes us.
CK has had better days and is the more cheerful, sweet kid we know and love. There are more hugs, smiles, and laughter. She’s had babysitting jobs, earned some good money, and has some personal projects in process. She’s off for the weekend to see a friend… at her PMS time (oh yes, it is marked on my calendar). Yay! We get to dodge that bullet, and I think that she’ll be on her way back to school before the next cycle hits!
SK and I have had some EXCELLENT reconnect time. He’s suddenly on a mission to hone his oral skills. I’m on a mission to try to relax and enjoy it (after 20+ years of not having this intimacy, it takes a little doing for me to get out of my head space that he’s just not that into it… he’s helping me to realize this may not be the case). He’s equally committed to meeting my impact needs with his soft-touch needs. There have been some wonderfully bonding, connecting moments that really go a long way in better attitudes, respect, and loving actions outside the bedroom. If there is one thing I am extremely grateful for in the redux of our marriage, it’s that he has become so much more dominant and a leader in that place. And I’m trying very, very hard to acknowledge that and thank him for that. For us, I think it will be through the bedroom that true D/s will be supported. Some may think this is backwards thinking, but it just is what it is for us. I know that I should respect and submit to him in other ways, but feeling his dominance and decisiveness in the bedroom encourages me.
We have also been doing more entertaining. This is one positive thing I watched in my family growing up. Mother was a good basic cook and renowned to be a wonderful hostess. I know that even though Dad never had much good to say to anyone, he appreciated this gift of my Mom’s, and I think she knew it. I also saw how it energized that “ordinary housewife” to put on a great feast, doll up in a smart outfit, fix her hair and makeup, and sparkle and shine. I am sure she loved the approbation and compliments she received from guests. It was fun to have an endless parade of people in my house who were having fun over good food and drink, and I learned a lot about entertaining from my mother. There was always double the food needed so no one need feel limited (so we had a lot of leftovers in our fridge). Our friends were always welcome to stay for dinner (something I tried also to pass along with my kids’ friends), and sitting at our family table is something they always remember fondly. When I was assigned overseas, “smart dinner parties” were popular, as there was little to do on the local scene. Being able to afford help was always a bonus– even though I’d cook the meals, I could hire servers/clean up helpers very inexpensively, and sit with my guests enjoying the evening. Although having the house neat and tidy isn’t my favorite occupation, I do love cooking and putting cute touches on dinner parties. “Practice hospitality” is what the Bible encourages (never know when you might be entertaining angels!). When people break bread together, it brings up a wonderful, intimate dynamic, and leaves behind really good warm fuzzy feelings.
In the wake of recent events in our country, along with all of the sad divisiveness it’s brought about, I’ve come to some real peace in my thoughts. I spent a week trying to wrap my brain around what was going on, and all of the hatred that was being spewed out. I began noticing the hatred was coming from people who knew better, some people I associate with. It gave me some good wisdom on how to winnow down Facebook connections and realize that I want uplifting relationships with kind and loving people, not self-righteous and judgmental people who don’t seem to know a thing about love. And in case you were wondering, my gay friends are not among those I’m unfriending.
I’m to begin Physical Therapy this coming week… hopeful for a resolution to my nerve pain issues. I took a break from working out for a week which actually was harder than I realized; but some soreness has improved so that was a good thing. I’m heading back today and promise to take it easy. When the orthopedic guy examined my range of motion, told me to lean backwards, he chuckled as I headed towards my “normal” back bend and said, “I forgot you do yoga…” Later that day as I had to park way far back in a lot where dozens of front spaces are reserved for handicapped, my normal annoyance was gratitude as I walked over the painted wheelchair icons. I am walking. I am mobile. Yes, I have pain, but thank you God for my mobility.
I’m set up to see a doctor who has a good reputation for helping people lose weight. I have these extra pounds that came on in the nearly 3 years since my great 75 lb weight loss, have not had success in reducing, and I want to get that reversed. Hopeful there’s something that will work for me.
I’m a little sad that my big road trip didn’t work out, but I accept that perhaps this was a God thing. SK was not very happy about it anyway.
SK and I have had helpful discussions on our future plans. We seem to have some agreement on what this will look like, ways to compromise, and how we need to now work towards that goal. It also has given him an awfully big stick (or is it a carrot) to “encourage” me that I need to start cleaning up my messes and reduce the “stuff.”
I get to go on a very short Mission trip next week, and although they can be hot, grueling, and inconvenient, I know that I’ll come back feeling good about what I contributed, and appreciative for all the blessings I take for granted.
Lastly, I’ve been toying with the idea of taking my blogging public. It will definitely change some of my content, but I feel I have a lot to offer. This has lots of implications that have yet to be pondered. It could be limiting for me to not be able to talk openly about sexuality and kink, things that SK would never feel comfortable with. With good reason, he is a very private person. I have presented the notion to a good friend, who’s given me some suggestions and insights; and I’ve brought it up to SK, who as always, is not a huge fan of the blog world. I explained to him that I felt both he and I had so much to contribute and offer people, but that it meant being less than perfect and honest about trials we’ve faced and lessons learned. I told him that he’d have editorial review over what I posted, and this somewhat appeased him. Lots to think about on that, because it definitely could stifle my voice. Anonymous blogging is so freeing.
So thumbs up, and here’s a cheer to the power of prayer! I know many of you pray for me, so I want to thank you for that and let you know it’s had an impact! My absence here often is a good sign that things are going well and that my attitude is better. Unfortunately (for my audience!) my muse gets very active when I’m unhappy or downhearted.
Ta ta for now!
I’ve always been long-winded. I can’t reign it in. I guess I come from a line of long-winded story tellers.
Well, I can for a short time. Often in groups I have to have a self-talk going in my brain to only listen. Listen. Listen. Resist the urge to talk, to contribute, to take over the conversation.
I don’t know how to change this part of me. What many people can say or write in under 50 words takes me 10 times that. And whether I want to admit it or not, I seek to impress.
I wonder why that is?
The last thing in the world I want to be regarded as is a know-it-all, a braggart, or unapproachable. I certainly at all costs want to avoid being the cause for eyes glazing over. Everyone has something worthwhile to share, in my opinion. It’s just that perhaps we’re not all interested in the same things.
We had friends for dinner. I love cooking ethnic food, especially for people who love to eat. It’s my thing, it’s what I do. It sometimes intimidates people. I don’t mean it to, I just enjoy entertaining, cooking, putting cute touches on parties. This little group all gets along great, we love being together, and conversation and humor flows so well. It’s easy to get lost and lulled into just talking. Someone mentioned kayaking, and I mentioned I’d done it on a fairly challenging river. I got incredulous and admiring looks, and questions. I backpedaled fast, explaining that I’d taken some lessons, and after lessons we got to do challenging rapids, practice our rolls, etc. Still the faces were in awe.
STOP! I want to shout. I’m normal. I’m just like you. It’s no big deal, and for heaven’s sake, I was in my 20s!
One of the sweetest ladies of the group remarked quietly to SK at the end of the evening, with true amazement (and no sarcasm), “Is there anything DD can’t do?”
Of course. There’s a shit load of stuff I can’t do. I can’t keep an even keel on my marriage. I can’t have respectful kids. I can’t have orgasms at will. I can’t be brief and concise.
And I can’t keep my damn mouth shut.
I was pressed into service recently as a translator at church. Again, no biggie. A humble position, in which you only are repeating the thoughts and words of another. No ego involved. I’m way rusty in this language, and the speaker had better English. It’s just from time to time a question was asked using slang, vernacular ,or weird syntax. I really just had to translate casual English to formal English, but sometimes it was easier to just rephrase it in that person’s native language.
Again the faces. She speaks that language? OMG. You’re a rock star. You’re so intimidating. You’re unapproachable.
NO. NO. NO! I’m normal, I’m one of you. Type AB. Struggling on my diet, with crappy Achilles tendons right now.
I love to write, but few IRL people have read my writing. I’ve participated in a few public projects and once again, the look of awe, as though I just ran a marathon (which incidentally, I never have nor ever will be able to). My readers have mostly been anonymous blog readers. And my readership has been gradually falling off (and I think it’s mostly a shift in my content… or that this story has gone on long enough). I know way more people who can write circles around me. Who use a delightfully rich economy of words I can only dream of imitating. But still, my writing intimidates some.
Too many words. Too many thoughts. No clue on how to slake this desire to run at the mouth (or the keyboard).
Last night SK and I sat in the living room after some nice sexy time and dinner out using his senior citizen discount (OMG, it was weird). House to ourselves. We were reading and chilling in our own corners. I saw the need to continue with “The Talk” we never really had finished. Future plans. He put down his book and focused.
I don’t know how long we talked, but his eyes were glazing over. He was growing combative and obtuse. I felt like for every suggestion or thought I had, he’d throw up a roadblock. He eventually made for the bedroom with sleepy eyes. I wasn’t anywhere near talked out. As we settled into bed, I was still talking.
“Too many words…” he sighs.
So, I shut up.
I let him sleep.
At least one of us slept.
This morning, he starts to engage as I’m reading emails on my phone. He suddenly leaves the bed saying something about being ignored. I wasn’t doing it on purpose. I was just trying to hold the words in.
What to do.
Write. That helps me get it out, process and organize my thoughts. Yup. I’ll keep it to one page. He can manage one page.
And before I know it it’s 3 pages. Then going onto 4 pages. I cut it back to 3, but can’t cut more. I read, reread, and edit and soften my tone, take away the accusations or fighting words, try to make it submissive. Infused with respect and love and a need to resolve issues before us. Promises to try to surrender, to try to be better at letting him lead us. But needing to feel secure, involved and not marginalized to do that. Together. I want us working together.
This has been a very rambling post… and now it’s going to end. I just don’t know how to turn it back.
Too many words.
Earlier this week as I was lamenting my end-of-rope status to SK, the feeling of being trapped and without escape, he did the most shocking thing.
He prayed for us.
OK, not so shocking. SK started off in our marriage not ever praying aloud. I insisted there be meal time prayers with our family, and night time prayers with the children. His prayer muscle grew mightily. Before long, he was leading the mealtime and bedtime prayers. He even would pray at church on occasion, if no one else would step up.
However, although I mentioned I’d love for him to pray for us as the leader of our family, it never was forthcoming.
Stormie Omartion has written a book, “The Power of a Praying Wife.” It is touted in all christian circles as a must-read, so I recently acquired it, along with the companion book “The Power of a Praying Husband,” and it promptly found it’s way into a dusty corner of “books to read, but not really.” But SK IS a reader, and he dusted his off and has been reading it. Gently asked if I’d read mine yet. I dutifully dragged it out and have made it through the forward, and am not totally impressed (her husband sounds like a jerk, and if I’m getting that in the forward, I don’t know if I want to read more).
But, in the middle of my hopelessness and despair and negativity, he stopped and said “I’m going to pray for us.”
The tears just washed over my cheeks at his gesture. And, maybe because of the power I felt in that prayer. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” says James 5:16
I soon after ran to the grocery store, and upon returning, CK3 runs from the house greeting me with smiles, hugs me, says she loves me, and can she help me unload the groceries? What? I was in shock but at least able to murmur back I loved her too. This was my sweet girl I’ve missed so much. SK was cagey when I later asked him “what did you tell her?” simply saying, “a hug means a lot… and prayers get answered.”
My prayer life has really sucked lately. I have gone back into “I can handle this, thank you very much God” mode. LOL, clearly not. At the communion rail each Sunday, SK and I hold hands and pray silent prayers, but that has been about it. I go down the litany of family and friends, needs, salvation, etc, usually under a minute. I’ve been in many an intense Bible Study over the past years, however I was skimming material and “getting by” with the least amount of effort. I wasn’t in The Word, and I certainly wasn’t doing devotionals.
So that’s all got to change.
Following CK’s happy greeting and spirit, a series of little silly things happened that encouraged my Joy to return. Who knows, maybe seeing Pixar’s Inside Out (a great movie, incidentally) subconsciously made me aware of the happy little gremlins in my brain besides Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.
Part of my grocery meanderings led me right past one of my very guilty pleasures from happier childhood memories. Mmmmm. Chocolaty, peanut buttery goodness. One every other day. After a good workout. OK, maybe one a day. I mean one package of two… With a glass of milk, of course (the only time I drink milk).
That evening, SK and CK were out of the house, and I chose to stay and chill. As I picked up my book, I decided to put Pandora on– and one of my favorite Latin tunes pops up. I love this song. It just makes me want to dance, shake my bootie, twirl, and smile. So, alone in the house, I got up, and danced my little heart out. I was quite sexy. And alarming. See if you’re not smiling after this song:
Next day, SK and I enjoyed a day by the sea, and en route I picked up my weird guilty pleasure: wasabi peas. These things make my nose sting, my eyes water, and my mouth burn, but oh, I love them. I think they just make my senses sing. OK, maybe there is something intensely sensory there for a kinky gal?
Realizing after our somewhat cloudy beach day that I’ve probably been avoiding the sunshine because of the oppressive heat, I told myself that I needed sun, and headed for the neighborhood pool by myself. It was ridiculously hot, but jumping in the water every 10 minutes or so and bronzing (as I shouldn’t do… oh well) just lifted my spirits.
And, let us not forget that CK indeed did get out of the house for a couple of hours, I was required to respond with “yes sir,” I got to feel the sting of the paddle and the flogger, SK’s wonderful tongue, and a surrendered time of his concerted, intimate explorations and mapping out the vagaries and intricacies of my flower… with wonderfully, levitate-ingly, salubrious, multi-O results. Give that man The Henry Hudson-John Speke-Sir Edmund Hillary-Roald Amundsen-Ponce de Leon-Lewis and Clark Award.
Hopefully I’m finding my way back to happy, and can stay on this path despite the inevitable challenges.
Prayer works, folks. Duh.
Oh, and a count-down calendar!
When snarky college kid seems to be ruling the roost with bitter negativity and setting up an atmosphere of misery in our home?
When CK;s father wants to do all to appease her, and is desperate to not incite WW III by asking her to respect him, her mom, and to just be a nice person?
When Sub’s husband looks depressed that he can’t keep everyone happy under the same roof (and doesn’t want to have to choose a “side”)?
When Sub tries her best to suffer the slings and arrows of a snarky, disrespectful CK in order to keep the coveted peace and not to upset hus-Dom aka ostrich-head-in-the-sand (who’s upbringing apparently involved too much loud, angry fights and yelling, which he will avoid now at all costs)?
When the head-in-the-sand and conflict avoidance tactics produce an acid in your stomach and a pounding of your heart that might just kill you (i.e., is this sacrifice for so-called peace worth it)?
When Sub’s plans to take a road trip and just get the heck out of Dodge for a while continues to be thwarted by personal health issues, the vagaries of potential host’s schedules?
Said Sub can’t seem to shake painful sciatic and Achilles tendon issues?
When Sub’s as bored as spit and can’t get motivated to do the 101 things on her to-do list (including E-publishing the damn book!)
When libido keeps taking precipitous nose dives?
When it’s been nearly 2 months since a serious scene or spanking?
When the promise of CK being out of the house seems like a cruel tease, and when Dom says, “2 hours isn’t enough time…”?
When Dom isn’t seeming very Dom-ly?
When hus-Dom wakes Sub at 6:30 am with “needs?”
She smiles as pleasantly as possible and serves his needs, telling him “the connection is enough.”
And wonders how much longer she can do this.
On this day when people are posting sweet photos of their Dads on Facebook, extolling how wonderful their Dad is; when people pick out Hallmark sentiments that bring a tear to the eye; when kids try to give their dear old Dad a day of leisure and relaxation, I reflect on what that word “father” means to me.
My tribute to Dad involved sending a card, a box of homemade cookies and making the requisite and expected Sunday call to my dad, 1,000 miles away and as manipulative and self-centered at 81 as he always has been.
Except he’s a little bit sadder by the cards “life” has dealt him. Some years ago, he lost his wife of 50+ years, my mother, before he ever truly came to appreciate her beauty, kindness, gentleness, support and love.
He’s “appreciating” the heck out of her now. Too late. And he is a sad man with lots of regrets.
I sadly wish my sweet mother could have lived to hear all the wonderful things he now has to say about her. All true, and not a one idealized. My Mother was a saint. Instead she died wanting to believe he “really loved her” in spite of years of actions to the contrary: hateful words, emotional abuses and manipulations, ingratitude, physical abuses to her children, and infidelities on his part. A bride-homemaker-mother of the 50s from a tradition that considered divorce a non-option, my mother just gritted through the major valleys of her marriage and remained faithful and loving towards my Dad. She repaid kindness for hurt, day after day. And truly, she heaped burning coals on Dad’s head, which he will feel for the rest of his days.
No, I did my basic duty to “honor” my father today. I do it out of duty, although I wish I could do it from love and devotion as I’m sure God had intended. I thankfully learned this some years ago… the 5th commandment of honoring your father and your mother isn’t a choice. You do it either from duty, or from love. It doesn’t say, “if you feel like it; if they deserve it; only if in your estimation they were a good parent…” You just honor them, and it’s the one and only commandment with a promise: “so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” God did not give any other promises with the other 9 commandments, so somehow I think He must’ve just known “something…” that perhaps it would be difficult for some children to honor their parents; or perhaps there would be bad or less than honorable parents. So He gave us an incentive (or perhaps a threat?) to obeying this commandment (Exodus, Deutornomy, and Ephesians).
Good Lord. How do I honor a man who emotionally abused me my entire life and never made me feel worthy of any respect or love? Who beat me in anger? Who spoke angry, mean, belittling words to a child, telling her she’d never amount to anything and she was a “bad seed?” Who scoffed at my tears, and who forbade me to ever have an opinion or speak my mind without dire consequences? Who insisted on me advancing my education but always belittled my learning and knowledge? Who cheated on my dear mother, and had the nerve to tell his 15 year old daughter he was leaving (and then stayed…)?
How do I honor this?
By the Grace of God. By the Grace of God, I understood that this man I’d be given as a father was (and is) dealing with such profound hurt, fear, and insecurities in his life that he knew no better than to be a bully and to pick on those “weaker” than him. By the Grace of God, I tried my utmost to be love to him to the best of my abilities, not repay evil for evil, overcome evil with good, and continue to heap the burning coals in hopes maybe someday it would melt his heart and show him The Most Excellent Way. It may not be until his dying breath he “gets it,” but it’s not mine to avenge.
And to be completely fair, I have to shove aside all of the hurts of my childhood and try very hard to think of the good things he did, the only ways he knew to be a Father. He supported our family well (which is more than what nearly half the children in our country can say– 40% are born to unwed mothers and 1 in 4 children are raised with out a father). We had lovely homes, cars, never wanted for food, shoes, clothing, school supplies, enrichment activities, or basic needs. He financed educations and semesters abroad. He’s continuously bailed out a n’er-do-well sibling many, many, many times (from incarcerations, drugs, debts, and the IRS). He stuck around (even when I felt we’d have been much better off had he not). Apparently, I am to learn, he bragged incessantly about how proud he was of his kids to anyone he could make listen (eventually this would get back to us, but a day late and a dollar short). Although it is very likely that these good things he bragged about were ego-driven, he needed to show the world that he was “a good man.”
Above all, the man gave me life. He loved me in his limited and dysfunctional ways. He gave me a good “practical” start to life with an education.
And SK feels the same sense of duty about his parents… but bears the scars of a dysfunctional, contentious, and not always very happy home.
And ironically even though there were many similarities in the dysfunction of our childhoods, our parenting philosophies were vastly different. His was loving, peaceful (peace at all costs! NO YELLING!), and permissive; mine was loving, straight-shooting (be firm, tell it like it is, allow for discussion even when difficult), and structured. I believed in consequences; he believed in grace. I had hoped for the biblical model of not “exasperating our children but bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Yet I look at my husband and see a much different model of a Dad. There are times I don’t fully appreciate him in this role either–yes, he had difficulties commanding respect and expecting higher standards of his kids, and working as partners in parenting. However there’s never been a doubt in my mind (or theirs) that they were loved intensely and unconditionally by him. Supported unquestioningly by him. He never raised his voice in anger or hate towards them, no matter what little (or big) shits they could be at times. There was never a diaper he refused to change, a bath he refused to give, a bedtime story or song he missed, a washer full of spit up and throw up and shit-stained clothes he wouldn’t do, a bruise or black eye he wouldn’t suffer to calm a raging tantrum, a sporting or musical event he wouldn’t attend (or even manage/direct). He suffers many slings and arrows of disrespect and ingratitude which would have earned me merciless consequences, and “loss” of love. He was and is so proud of his children, tells them this; they are the loves of his life. He was the ultimate sacrificial Dad. And as much as they still can act like ungrateful little shits towards him and us, I have to believe that with such a supportive and loving Dad that their outlooks on life are quite a bit healthier than their parents’.
Maybe there are unforgiveable things, unforgiveable Dads. I can think of a few horrendous things that don’t seem to merit forgiveness, and there were times in my life I felt that about my Dad. All I can say, it didn’t make him a better person or me a better person to remain unforgiving.
So, forgive your Dad if you need to. Do it for yourself. Stop taking the poison of unforgiveness. Honor him, if only out of duty, and because he is a flawed, hurting, clueless human who, despite your report card, probably did the best he was equipped to do.
And be a better Dad than your own.
So that it may go well for you…