Archive for September, 2020

September 16, 2020

What I wanted from my dad

by Rod Smith

I’ve heard these themes – these are not quotations – time and again from young people. The spin varies depending culture and economic status.

I wanted my father to talk with me – not only teach me or tell me what he expected or to tell me his stories from the past that seemed like ancient history to me – but to engage with me.

I wanted a dad, not just a sports coach – although I loved it when he coached me sports.

Even though I was trying to be very masculine and self-sufficient I needed to know my dad had my back.

Sometimes it felt as if my father was really trying to get close to me but that he didn’t know how – like he was afraid of me. I only know that now – I couldn’t see it then.

All I wanted was for my parents to be friends – the divorce didn’t stop the fighting.

When my parents were friends everything was hopeful about life – when they fought, even over the smallest things, it would feel like my life was falling apart.

“The thing I remember the most was when he’d ask my mother to leave the cooking up to him and to me – those are the times I really treasure.” (Actual quotation)

September 10, 2020

The power of forgiveness

by Rod Smith

In our families and among friends and associates it’s never too late to forgive or to ask for forgiveness. It may be difficult. It may hurt our pride. But, it is always possible. 

It’s as practical and near as a phone call, letter, or a face-to-face conversation. 

It may involve something as simple and difficult as a confession or request.

Sometimes, “I was wrong,” or “please forgive me,” or “I am sorry for the things I did to you,” or “how can I make things as right as possible,” are the hardest words to say. It may be as tough to say, “I forgive you” and “I am sorry it has taken me this long.”  

It’s never too large, too consequential, too long ago. It’s never too complicated for a sincere, “I am sorry, please forgive me,” or “I know it’s been a long time and I know you are not expecting this but I forgive you.” 

Forgiveness runs deep. Like water, it seeks the lowest point. Like water can do, it refreshes, feeds, cleanses. Forgiveness frees us up and frees others up. It restores. It renews. It brings back a spring in the step to the one who forgives and the one forgiven. 

It is beautiful, practical, so immediate, often painful, and so life-giving.

September 9, 2020

Take a moment

by Rod Smith

Take a moment to listen to that elderly man holding you up in the queue at the bank (grocery shop, post office) and chat. You may discover that he once ran a large enterprise, traveled the world, employed masses. He’s quite a lot more than someone who, at this moment, appears to be in your way. 

Take a moment to find compassion for the young woman you see alone with her children and who looks like she is at the end of her tether. You may find out she is fighting a few more battles than corralling young children. You may also discover she is fighting powerful illnesses and home circumstances that would be tough even if she were in perfect health.

Take a moment and be patient with that elderly woman who never met a stranger. Give her a little of your time and you will find out that she was married for over five decades and being alone has never gotten any easier. She is used to sharing her news and her life and the brief moment she has with you today may be the only one she has in weeks.    

Take a moment – you never know how powerful it may be for all concerned. 

September 8, 2020

Emotionally healthy people

by Rod Smith

Emotionally healthy people display many of the following strengths: 

They seem able to achieve their personal goals and keep strong relationships. They maintain individuality while embracing others. They don’t get “lost” in love or friendship. They love without invading or possessing. They resist telling others what others need, think, feel, or should do. 

Healthy people avoid siding with some against others. They recognize and refuse to participate in all forms of bullying (subtle and gross). They resist being manipulated into rescuing others, knowing it is usually unhelpful. They spend zero time or energy winning approval or maneuvering in relationships in order to feel loved or to feel powerful.

They appreciate differences in people, seeing no person as “all good” or “all bad.” They can defend their well-considered positions and beliefs without being rigid or defensive. They are open to change, are clear-headed under pressure, and can cope with difficulties without falling apart. They can keep their voice under pressure without confusing thinking and feeling.

They know that emotional health and well-being is not set in stone and can vary from day to day. Therefore, they allow themselves and others room for not-so-good days. On not-so-good days they are aware of the need to be cautious, to do no harm, and to avoid making decisions with lasting impact.  

September 6, 2020

Loneliness

by Rod Smith

Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Not everyone who is alone is lonely. 

Being around people, even family, does not mean a person cannot be lonely. Being lonely in a crowd is common. 

On rare occasions when I am alone, I really enjoy it. If I am traveling and held up for a few days, or if I choose to self-isolate for a few days I find it very refreshing. But these are periods of choice, of privilege. 

There are people who are literally alone, month in, month out and not as a result of choice. There are people who are deeply enmeshed in families and groups who are wilting in desperate loneliness. 

There is loneliness where there is no significant, trusted, sustained human interaction or deep human connection. Where life is without give-and-take, playfulness, dialogue, or sharing there is loneliness. There is loneliness where the world seems indifferent, when it seems to make no difference whether a person is present or absent. When your life seems to not matter, not to anyone, alone or in a crowd, there is loneliness.

May we be agents of healing when faced with people who are seemingly without friendship and hope.