June 22, 2010

Stirred Part 3 – If Only

Posted in personal at 3:19 am by jimazing

free-guyIf only…

When I was a young man, I had all the answers.  In fact, I still have most of the answers, but they changed.  Now I am not so sure of these new answers.  One of the reasons for this lack of surety is because of those very changes.  Why should I think that I would stop and settle on “the truth” as I know it now?  I’m pretty sure I’ll keep “adding to” and “taking from” as long as I am breathing in and out.

Being the father of four teenage daughters at the same time was a challenge.  I envisioned myself as the stoic leader of my family.  the one with the answers and the rules.  Of course, I expected them to believe the truth as I knew it and to live by the same rules that I was trying to live by.  I was mostly unaware of how little they were interested in following those rules. I thought it was a phase and they would eventually come around.  Rules are created to prevent pain, which is a good thing until the rules become the point and we stop feeling pain because we don’t feel anything.  When the kids were living at home with us, I felt the need to be the example for them to follow.  After all, If I broke the rules, how could I possibly expect them to follow the rules?

Now that they are all out on their own, the scales begin to fall from my eyes.  I realize now that I do break the rules and no one knew that better than my daughters.  In 2004, I went to France to play music with LaClef. The group was mostly people my kids’ ages at the time (late teens early twenties).  I kind of became “the dad” on the trip.  I remember hearing their stories and on one occasion in particular, several of them were sharing their painful family stories.  As I listened to them talk about their parents shouting and how it frightened them, I cried with them.  I was angry that anyone could do that to such great kids.  Later when I had some time of prayer and reflection, I thought about the pain they felt and related it to my own pain.  I remembered how I too shouted where my girls could hear.  I remembered one of them coming to me in tears asking if her mom and I were going to get a divorce.  It hurts to write that.  In that moment I realized that I was not only the recipient of pain, I was also the giver of pain.

It is humbling to realize that finger-pointing works both ways.  I want grace for all the dumb things I do.  I want to be let off the hook for my mistakes.  I think the best place to start is by giving grace.  Giving it to others and to myself.  Letting others off the hook and me too.

Over the years, I have always thought it was silly when I heard people say, “If only I could go back and do it over with what I know now.”  It’s goofy to think you could win the lottery or buy Microsoft (even though it makes for a pretty fun movie).  As I step into a new understanding of graceful living,  I find myself wishing for the first time every that I could go back and do some things over.  I wish I had understood grace better and lived it better rather than so much rule giving and following.

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