Attitude in the Context of the Past
I keep scraping together memories from the present moment that are echoes of the past, and when I look back and forth, quickly between them, I realize how very little has changed. It makes it easier to breathe when I decide to abandon some of the fear I once I had.
The best example of this is with changes I have made to my attitude, and comparing them to the people who taught me them: my parents. It seems unfair and slightly Orwellian that I would think of reshaping my attitude as potentially better than my parents, but I think it’s just the intensely fast-forwarded normal progression of time, in a way that would help me enjoy them for what they are while they are still here, and while cutting myself some slack. I don’t have to be perfect, and they certainly aren’t going to ever be, and if I can learn a thing or two about what that means while I’m still young, I think it’ll be much better going forward.
So let’s talk about that. When I look back, the most obnoxious and painful thing has been when my parents blame me for things they in fact do themselves, and yet, refuse to resolve. I understand this, because the same lessons they mis-practice I worked to unravel, so that I might know why they existed in my own life. I don’t blame them, this is part of life. But I will be honest in saying that the simple act of taking accountability for your actions can be enormous in the lives of your children.
Admitting you were wrong. Or are still wrong. Accepting that patience isn’t a part time thing. Realizing you can’t make up for lost time, but you can certainly make the time you have left count. For whatever reason, Parent’s bad attitudes are passed onto their children like the plague, and although my parents did a good amount of things right, no one is perfect. It’s hard to explain that if they are not willing to accept forgiveness for themselves. It is the cheapest gift that becomes the most important, and I’m not sure what to do with my spare forgiveness sometimes, when I don’t know if it will be accepted. Do I even try? I probably should. But for whatever reason, we don’t talk about those things. I’m not sure what to say so much of the time, and most of the time, I just choose to ignore the frustration. But sometimes I really would like honesty, and I don’t get it. And I’m not exactly sure what to ask for, other than to let time pass and hope that one day, they will reciprocate the favor.
Is this tragic? I don’t think so. I just think it is reality. If I make it sad, then I’m living a tragedy. I know that they don’t have everything figured out. I know that I want to get in the way of good habits by raising my own kids better. And that isn’t something to be ashamed of; that is a source of pride for me. It should be a source of pride for them too. And regardless of whether or not they believe me, I love them. And that is the biggest thing. The rest of it can simmer into nothingness.
You are responsible for your destiny, regardless of what you have experienced. On the one hand, there is no fairness in this game of living, but that is the freaking point. Make up for it. Accept the battles you can’t change. Move forward, with God. I don’t know everything, but I don’t need to. He is good enough to cover all my screw ups, and quite frankly, what the hell would you expect of someone who has only lived a quarter of her life span? I’m entitled to make my own mistakes, not because I should, but because it’s a freaking necessary component of living. Why do we put shame on that? Oh right, because we cannot forgive ourselves for not being perfect. Wake up. Perfection isn’t the point.
I learned a lot of decent things from my parents. My mom uses her words however the hell she’d like, just like I do. She realizes that sometimes, not giving a crap is worth it. She may not always show it, but she does have a sense of humor. My dad writes like I do. He has the same wandering spirit, and that’s a good thing. I realized yesterday when I put my pen down that my Dad’s habit of writing on blank white printer paper had become passed on to me, and I hardly realized it until I sat staring at my own Doctor’s script in black pen on white nothingness. When the hell did that happen? Ok. I’ take it.
What would you tell about your loved ones, if someone asked you about them? Sometimes they do, clearly. We don’t live in a vacuum, people. We live in the suction-less vacuum of the real world, and our families matter. So. If a random person asked you about your loved ones, even the ones that you don’t talk to or are dead, would you say nice things? You probably should. Bitterness isn’t good for you. That, and also, they probably love/loved you, even if they didn’t do it perfectly. Get your crap together. You aren’t the only person that deserves to be cut some slack here and there.
Sometimes when my mom does something that I also do, and gets pissed at me for it, there is this temptation to be angry and blame her for it. I know that I shouldn’t. But I do, and I am trying not to. The idea that most people can quit most bad habits cold turkey was clearly fabricated by cantankerous people who have clearly never realized how hard some bad habits can be to break. I trust God, and he is making me aware of what I do poorly pretty quick. I’m not always able to respond perfectly, but I get a little better every day. If I expect perfection from myself, I inevitably fail. If I open myself up to the possibility that God will work his grace in my life for the sake of myself and others, then I’m immediately blessed in knowing that at least there is no shame in trying. And the lack of shame, having been justified by God, makes all the difference.
If I am wrong and others are also wrong, I need to be the first to change it. Sometimes people don’t know change is possible unless they see it done. People may not realize how easy it could be to change. They don’t realize how much happier it will make them. It is simply not worth the effort.
But it isn’t my responsibility to make changing valuable to anyone. It would probably be simpler if I backed away sometimes, but hell no, I’m not doing that. I know God can work in my life; he does it every day. I have been wrong before, and he has used that for his purposes only. It isn’t my right to “expect” better, but it is my ability to live better. And maybe over time, living right will catch on, at least to the people who are willing to accept it for what it is and realize the attitude of love behind it. If not, so be it. But this is my life and I will always choose God.
People can get all pissy if they want, but that was there long before I was ever birthed onto the scene. I’m the youngest in my family by one minute (#twins), and even though it barely counts using that logic, the youngest isn’t typically the one to choose to be better first. I’m not sure that it particularly matters, but I’ll let y’all know. I get the feeling that something about birth order is significant; it certainly was with Jacob and Esau, and all the nonsense that went into all of those situations in Genesis. The idea of coming in the name peace, calmness, awareness, and alleged goodness and allowing God to provide the rest is really easy to practice, if you just accept that it should be. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. He wants you just as you are, and he is going out of his way constantly to prove that.
We don’t have to agree, but generally speaking, if you are a jerk, most people will disagree with you on instinct, and then just try to shove their lives into the bastard string of expectations that you have hand-crafted. They will probably get so broken and tired that they will just quit eventually, especially these days. Most people who are young know that they’ve got options now. Good luck trying to use your muscle against others perpetually. We’re sick of your crap.
I say “we”, because technically speaking, I don’t have the right to. But I can read it on my friend’s faces when they get mad about real life problems. And I hear it in the voices of my friends when they expect better. My friends are all ages, but we aren’t all that different so much of the time. The biggest difference was always an attitude, and I receive respect when I send it out into the void. The people that are just waiting to reciprocate it eventually find me, and we have a good time living our lives and laughing at whatever stupid nonsense the world tells us is valuable, because quite honestly, the world really doesn’t have its crap figured out these days. It’s a bunch of bitter people living a bunch of bitter lives, and I’m sorry but I chose Jesus and I bargained for better than that. Go ahead and miss the point some more. I still love you, but it’s glaringly obvious at this point that you don’t have your crap figured out, and I want to help if, if you let me. So be it if you were wrong! We are all wrong. You are still alive, and you need to make good on that.
Ehh. It’s okay to not have it figured out. I’d rather work with, rather than against. If the whole point is that the whole world becomes slightly better through God before the grand slam finale, perhaps I can simply be the change. And in knowing freedom only, I’m pretty happy.