Saturday, July 23, 2011

Longest Lasting Hollywood Marriages...

My dad sent me this artice.  Check it out and see what you think...

Very interesting stories from Hollywood, don't you think?  Would that we all could be as down to earth as Sissy Spaseck or Alan Alda. I am not so keen on the Dustin Hoffman philosophy.  Pretty sure I flat disagree.  While I understand needing space and respecting and allowing each other to freely pursue their own dreams, I would not say "the trick to marriage is living your own life while you share a space."  
In an ideal marriage you come back to each other and are best friends.  No one else in the world should care about the pursuit of your dreams or the goings on in your heart like your spouse.  And no one else should know what's going on in your mind more than your spouse.  That's the freedom.  Knowing that your spouse knows your rottenest thoughts and most self-destructive patterns, and loves you anyway.  I think thats the trick.  But that's just me.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Help Others...when? if? because?

I am currently reading the book Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours. First of all I highly recommend this book. It isn't some esoteric leadership strategy or never-before-seen self-help BS. It is all common sense kind of things and the personal, life changing proof that principles are not pointless and that keeping life simple, yet meaningful will absolutely impact the lives of others...not to mention how God will use it to fulfill His calling in your life.

The first principle Joshua Hugh Wooden wrote on a card for his 12 year old son Johnny Wooden was "Be True To Yourself". The second was "Help Others". It is the principle of helping others that  is really what's on my mind today.

The truth of the matter is that I love to help others. I love helping my neighbors, strangers, whomever. The author of the book, Mr. Williams makes a special point to help others especially when the can do nothing for you in return. I enjoy helping those people too. At first glance I could assume that this principle is one I have a pretty good grip on and that I should spend way more time on the other 6 principles....most of which I certainly do not have a good grip on. Thankfully, today I had an epiphany (I firmly believe that the word epiphany is yiddish for "brain fart") that I in fact do not have this principle in the bag. There is one aspect of this principle that needs continued work in my world.

Can I help others that have intentionally not helped me? Can I sacrifice for someone that has chosen to exclude me from their life to some degree? At it's most foundational level, can I help others because of who I am instead of because of who they are, what they have done or even in spite of wounds I may have from them?

On Father's Day my Dad was going to his Father's house to work around his house, catch up on some landscaping and spend what could be my grandfather's final Father's Day with him. I agreed to meet my Dad and to bring my 3 sons so that I could help him get more accomplished, see my grandfather and have my sons exposed to their great-grandfather another time. That all probably sounds pretty normal and really even expected to most people...but, there is always more to the story.

For years I idolized my grandfather. He was physically strong. He was emotionally strong and he had even earned a field commission in the Korean War. I was always amazed that he could go to Korea as a Private and be a Captain by the time he left Korea. Others must have also seen greatness in him for that to be possible. I was an adult and was already married before it hit me that my grandparents had never initiated any interaction with me. All of the phone calls that had been placed were placed by me. All of the visits had been driven one way...from my house to theirs. I don't doubt that they loved me, but they certainly were content with me in their life at a distance.

That realization was painful. I know my grandparents had their own lives going on and that I didn't always live exactly next door to them, but I still couldn't imagine someone never once, ever calling their grandson. I can't imagine grandparents never once planning a trip to visit or initiating a trip to spend time with their grandson. How did they know if I was doing well? Were they concerned about my education? Did they ever want to know if I was safe? Maybe they did, but their apparent interest and concern was lacking.

As time has passed since that realization I have had bouts of resentment and a lot of questions. Sadly, my questions will largely go unanswered as my grandmother has since died and my grandfather isn't in great health. Who am I kidding though? If they were in great health I wouldn't discuss it with them. I am not sure how to start a deep conversation with someone with whom I don't enjoy a deep relationship. I'm not sure that they have ever thought twice about their lack of involvement and even if they have, I'm not sure what a conversation today would do to improve the situation.

So my anger, hurt and resentment has at times lead to me withdrawing from their lives. I could have visit when in town and I didn't. I could have called, sent cards for holidays and birthdays, or something else people in relationships do, but I didn't. I think to some degree I didn't want to reminder of hurt for myself and in some ways I may have been punishing them for their lack of effort in my life. I never stopped loving and I never completely dealt with the hurt, but neither did I pursue them further. The result is that on Father's Day this year my grandfather had to ask the names of my sons...he doesn't know them because he has never taken the time or made the effort to know them.

Even with all of that as the background, some unexpected things happened on Father's Day. First, my sons didn't seem phased at all by having to tell their great-grandfather their names. In fact, they seemed to enjoy being around him. His lack of effort hasn't yet touched them and as his health continues to wane, it became obvious that they will probably never be effected by what they don't personally experience.
The next surprise was that my great-grandfather seemed to be energized by having 3 of his descendants in his home. He smiled, laughed and even told a few stories...some of them were even about me when I was a child. The third, and maybe most important surprise is what happened within me as it relates to helping people.

While the circumstances that exist would lead many rational and decent people to avoid, ignore and otherwise be absent in the life of their grandparents, I am now convicted of the calling of more mature followers of Jesus to help those that have intentionally or neglectfully been absent in your life. The truth is that I don't know why grandparents wouldn't connect to their grandchildren. Maybe they were wounded in some way? Maybe they never had love modeled for them in a healthy way? Maybe they felt insecure in their ability to love? Regardless of the reason, it seems right to me to lead them by loving them. I want to help my grandfather by connecting to the emotionally unavailable...not in an unhealthy, codependent and needy way, but in a way that is rooted in my identity being firmly rooted in who God says I am and how God interacts with me rather than the way my grandparents have.

It seems obvious in ways that are rather self evident now that it is is in fact Godly to help people that can't return the favor. It seems even more right to help, bless and connect with those who have never  even shown an interest in you. I'm thankful that God was pursuing me passionately long before I ever made an effort to connect to Him. His people, if we are to stand in agreement with Him and His Word, would be well served (and well serving) if we made the same efforts in the lives of others.

So here's to helping...others, often, regardless of circumstances!