As I reflect on this past week since my last post, I see a theme emerge for both Steve and myself. Love and forgiveness. We both feel that a life purpose and lesson for us is learning unconditional love and this week demonstrated this lesson to us.
This past week Steve and I hosted family in our home. First, Steve’s sister and then Steve’s son and his 16-month old son (our grandson). Nothing shakes up an old couple’s routine as having a 16-month old baby around, but what a JOY he is! The quality time we had with our guests and with the rest of the family was invaluable and precious. Two nights this week we had big family dinners, one of which brought together family members that hadn’t seen each other in years. This partial estrangement has been a cause of sadness and confusion for Steve for many years. But by the end of our week Steve found himself in a different place of acceptance and gratitude. His frustration of wanting to be seen and to experience deeper and more meaningful relationship from these family members faded. What changed? Acceptance and forgiveness and gratitude. Steve and I have come to believe that everyone is on this earth experiencing their own journey, dealing with their own wounds, insecurities and stories. And we are all in different places on our journeys. Expecting someone else to comprehend where we are and to give us what we need is pretty unreasonable. We are absorbed in our process and our complicated trek through life, just as much as they are absorbed with theirs. Only by loving each other and loving ourselves can we give each other the grace and space we need to feel safe in each other’s company. Thinking in this way, helped transition Steve from grief to acceptance.
In participating I also recognized my disappointments and grief over my own family relationships. I’m sure this is not a unique feeling for just us. All people feel disappointed by others in their lives that they felt should be giving them something different than what they were getting. What if, instead of responding to these disappointments with grief, victim-ness and hurt we change our expectations? What if, we look at these people as who they are, like us, insecure and vulnerable wounded creatures clawing their way through life attempting to survive and thrive. Could you feel judgement towards someone when you realize that they are immersed in their own muck and mire of life? It is their primary focus to survive and then after that they may look up and see that you need a hand to help you. And who’s to say that we aren’t the ones to lend the hand to them?
Sure, we still may grieve the loss of what we had hoped a relationship to be, that’s okay. But maybe we can now see the relationship for what it is and bathe it in grace and forgiveness and gratitude. Perhaps we can surround our loved ones with well wishes and give them space to experience their journey without the pressure and expectation of helping us on ours. God willing when we need help, He will provide it for us but it may not come from who we think it should come from. Each experience brings us a nugget of good, find it and be grateful for that.
It felt good for both of us to let go of expectations and replace those feelings with grace and love. We may have won a small uphill battle on our journey. But as the universe does, we were reminded of the mountains we have yet to climb. Last night, we finished off our week of hosting by taking our 4 boys out to a Nuggets basketball game. Sitting behind Steve and I were two very obnoxious men who spent the whole game talking loudly. One bragged about beating up his ex-wife and throwing her boyfriend down the stairs. He laughed as be boasted about the 6 months he did in jail for it and how when he got out he went looking for the boyfriend to “murder” him. It was gross and ugly and extremely challenging to sit through, let alone enjoy the game. At one point, I leaned over and asked Steve, “Can you try to love these guys behind us”? And he said, “Hell no, can you?”. So okay, we have more work to do.