How the traits of my father follow me and how I learned to deal with it
Last week I wrote an article about „My father- and how I learned to honor him“.
There I wrote how there was a time when I was “rejecting him and everything (and everyone) resembling him.”
How today, “I recognize those attributes of him that I see in myself as well. And I love them.
I see those positive traits in Benny, and I celebrate them.
I discover those attributes in my children, and I am affirming them.”
This past week I bumped into a situation with my kids, where I realized that there truly is a freedom in my life in dealing with those attributes.
I had my sister with her three kids over at my house. We spent the day at the public pool and slept in a tent in our front yard at night. In the evening, as we were discussing what we would have for dinner, the kids declared with one voice that they wanted to eat fondue.
Normally this a typical winter-specialty as it means dipping bread into molten cheese – which is perfect when it frozen and snowy outside In the heat of summer, however, it won’t contribute too much as a refreshment.. But anyway, since we actually did have some swiss fondue left from wintertime, we decided to go for it.
Now – we use special long forks for this matter.,We have some colorful plastic forks for kids as well as some metallic ones for the adults.
My oldest one took this fact very serious. So he listed every name on a paper, and he did a thorough analysis on who would have which fork.
He made sure that the smaller children would have a plastic fork (asking them which color they preferred) while leaving the metallic ones to the adults and the older children.
Now, my girl is very different – she is much more like me in that matter.
For her, it would have been perfect to put all the forks on the table, and everyone serves themselves with the fork of their preference. She didn’t see the need of making a whole examination and rather wanted to take that decision for herself.
So, when she was assigned a metal fork she came to me crying, seeking my help.
I understood her perfectly.
I would have felt exactly like her in that situation. Patronized, controlled and confined.
However, today, I loved and admired my oldest one for this attribute of taking matters very seriously, wanting to make sure that the smaller children would get their plastic fork, and also in their favorite color.
I loved to see how he found ways to do a whole investigation into the subject, thinking things through, and organize the distribution of those forks.
If I would be a a parent to a child with that attribute who hadn’t gone through that journey of honoring my father, I would probably have gotten pretty upset and angry, telling my son not to make such big a deal out of it. I would have felt the urge to protect my girl from such patronizing behavior.
To be honest, it now was an even bigger challenge to find the right way to deal with the frustration of my girl than with how my son was handling it. I understood her perfectly – but I wanted to encourage my oldest in this attribute of his. So she had to adjust to that situation. My younger son, seeing that not having a plastic fork upset her that much, offered to change his nice blue plastic fork with her metal one. She gladly accepted the offer and we could eat this fondue in peace and harmony.
This is only one example out of many I encounter in raising my kids.
Of course, there are times when I have to set boundaries for my oldest, and he has to adjust to the situation, depending on the circumstance.
But in the past, I would really have been incapable to handle such behavior.
I reacted strongly to anyone displaying the same attributes my father had. I simply couldn’t handle it.
I remember the day when Benny and I took a flight to Rome. I always had told him, that this was the most romantic city I knew, so he decided to surprise me with a trip to the “most romantic city in the world” in order to propose. We spent three beautiful days there.
But – on our way back, the airport customs officer who checked our hand luggage discovered an almost empty sun screen bottle in my bag.
He reacted strongly, asking me if I didn’t know that no liquids over 100ml are allowed. I answered him that there certainly was less than 100ml inside that bottle.
His look of disapproval on me, and his inpatient words he uttered while he took that bottle out of my bag were too much for me to handle.
I felt strong emotions rising up inside of me, and I could hardly breathe. Quickly, to contain my posture, I walked a few meters away, and Benny took over the situation.
My poor fiancé… He didn’t know what he had gotten himself into!
This was 11 years ago.
As I wrote in the last article, my inner reality has changed dramatically.
A few months ago, while I had to declare some products we bought in Germany, there was a German officer who made that whole process very complicated. He wanted to know every detail, asking me a million questions, where in the past it was a very quick and easy process.
To my surprise, there were no emotions rising inside of me.
Instead, I could warmly tell him:
You know, I really appreciate you being that correct. You want to do this job the right way. We need more people like you in our world!
He looked at me, perplexed at first, then, with a smile that enlightened his serious posture, he mumbled
“glad to hear that”.
I left that office thrilled and deeply thankful: I was truly free to honor and appreciate people with those very same attributes I definitely couldn’t handle in the past!
You see, it was a long process. It didn’t start that weekend in Rome, rather, it had started when I left home when I was 16.
I can’t even tell you a recipe to get there, as everyone is very different and our situations are unique.
However, God knows us perfectly. He knows our background, where we come from and what we’ve experienced. This God who knows the depths of our hearts and hurts – is full of compassion, love and great capacity to lead us on this way into freedom.
I believe what played a huge part on my journey to healing was that, countless times, I took this decision of wanting to know this God more. Who he truly is. I wanted to understand in depth what Jesus Christ had done on the Cross. What grace really means. I wanted discover His heart for me and for the people around me. I wanted to follow him no matter what would come along my way.
No matter who wronged me, what difficulties and heartaches I went through – I was very firm in my decision to give everything I have to follow him and grow into the person he made me to be.
And I believe God saw this heart of mine and lead – and still leads – me on that journey.
And what he does for me – he certainly will do for you.