The Blurry Line

 

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “Your will be done.”  C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.  C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

 

Bit by bit, ‘control’ is being wrenched from my cold, stiff fingers.

For years, I figured taking the lead was a necessary evil, especially if someone else (i.e. spouse or adult kids or people I considered irresponsible in general) dropped the ball. My goodness, if a ball is dropped, shouldn’t I pick it up and run with it?

Not always.

There’s a line. I haven’t been able to decipher it very well, or sometimes at all  . . . but God’s been trying to get into my thick head where that line is. It’s a moving target, let me tell you.

For instance, where is the line between teaching my (grown) kids what to do and trying to control them?

Where is the line between accomplishing my daily agenda and holding it loosely in case God has other plans?

Where is the line when a spouse attempts something I know in my heart will fail? Do I take control of the situation? (Not unless I want World War III to erupt, just sayin’.)

What gives me the right to think I know so much better than everyone else, anyway?

And that’s the point. I don’t.

I don’t know when God has his hands on someone else and He might allow a failure to teach them something. If I intervene, well, guess what? I slow down that process. I become a stumbling block.

When one of my grown kids has the temerity of soul to share a goal with their opinionated and strong-willed mom, do I criticize in a good-hearted but wrong-headed attempt to correct, or is it my selfish need to prove that I know better than they do?

Often I don’t. And that’s the point.

At this stage, my kids need less parenting and more friending. A few suggestions here and there, but more ‘attaboys’ and ‘way to go’s’ than exacting directives. Unless they ask, and then, of course, I’m a wellspring of knowledge.

Recently I had a situation with one of my kids that kind of punched me in the face. He thought I meant no, when really, I meant ‘let me teach you’. He thought I was controlling him, when I thought I was helping. He thought he was being independent and strong, and I thought he was, at the very least, being rude.

A Mexican standoff.

And guess what? He won. I scored a few points, but at what cost? It is futile to try to control another person, and perhaps I was.

As mentioned before, the line is a moving target. There are times a kid needs direction. Not control, direction. The line gets blurry. That’s when prayer helps point me in the right direction. And the right direction in this situation was to back off.

I can’t prevent someone else’s pain. I can’t prevent someone else’s failure. I can’t prevent someone else’s drive to accomplish whatever it is, even if I see them falling off a cliff. I can try to prevent it, but, again, I don’t know the whole story. God may have other plans and often I just need to get out of the way.

Let go.

Step aside.

Extend grace and generosity.

Be available if they need help, but don’t assume they need it if they don’t ask.

Trust God.

And finally, the point of all points: God has control of EVERY situation and I don’t.

 

 

 

 

Going Home Again a Wild Ride

going home 1Sometimes, going home again is an emotional roller coaster.

I just returned from spending a week with my eighty-year-old mom.  To say it was depressing is an understatement.  Imagine a hermit crab washed up on the beach upside down, burnt to a crisp by the sun and crinkled into a nub, powerless to flip over, trapped in its shell. That’s how I felt after a week in her house.

The blinds were drawn in a gloomy nod to isolation. The thermostat was set to 85 degrees, about the same temperature as outside. To save on the a/c bills, she said. There was little food in her brand-new refrigerator and she was pencil-thin. Not hungry, she insisted as I pled with her to eat more.

She is still very independent, but her hearing, eyesight, and patience have deteriorated to a muddled mass of confusion. Plus, to complicate matters, she is firmly in denial. As far as she is concerned, she can drive, she can hear just fine with her hearing aids, (I get enough to understand! So what if I miss a few words? Huff, huff, mad face).  If she cannot hear people on the phone, she simply hangs up on them. In the meantime, to communicate with her, I must yell my brains out. She seems to think this is normal, appropriate behavior.

I’ve been back in my snug little house a week now. I’m trying – really hard – to flip right-side-up and uncrinkle. But it’s amazing how thisgoing home 3 particular visit sliced through my best intentions like a Ginsu knife. I reverted to a selfish brat intent on proving my decisions were better than her decisions, nanny-nanny-boo-boo. And in most cases, they actually were, but my attitude was not exactly stellar. Continue reading

The Secret to a Satisfying Vacation with your Spouse

An annual summer trek to Florida is made all the more interesting when one’s trek does NOT involve children; adult or otherwise. Just two spouses. Together. Seven days.

Alone.

My husband and I met and married in the throes of empty-nesting; and most of our vacations have been accompanied by various assortments of adult kids and grandkids.

We hardly know what to do with one another when we are alone.

Wait. Let me re-phrase that.

Not true. We absolutely know what to do with each other when we are alone, we just did not know what to anticipate or how we would interact on VACATION when we are alone.

So when we set off for seven entire days at the beach, it was with a bit of trepidation on my part, but hopeful optimism that even though we were over 50 and relatively set in our ways, we might re-kindle a bit of romance bouncing in the surf.

My husband, the energizer bunny.

After several intense and meaningful discussions around our individual expectations for the trip, my husband, who nodded off several times during these scintillating conversations, nonetheless brimmed with eager energy when we boarded the plane.

We’d agreed that the first day would be spent on the beach, doing nothing but playing in the water and soaking up the rays. So far, so good.

Day Two, the tug-o-war began. My husband, the energizer bunny-man; and I, the please-let-me-lay-on-the-beach-with-a-book-woman, crafted a pretty good compromise, I thought; by agreeing on morning beach time, and after lunch, an activity or two.

Or three.

Or four, if the decisions is left to my husband.

So Day Two, after lunch, we head up the coast to Clearwater, not foreseeing the inevitable traffic or the older population’s driving habits (slow…and slower) . So we finally arrive in a haze of irritability, park with some difficulty due to the crowds; and visit a public beach, restaurant, and various painted dolphins standing on their tails. By the time we get back to our condo several hours later, I have just enough energy to walk out to the beach and watch the sunset.

My husband suggests several restaurants, jet ski rental, a dolphin watch cruise or a quick drive to Sarasota, an hour and a half away. I look at him like he is crazy. We have been married long enough for him to correctly interpret this as: “I just laid out on the beach half a day, drove with you to Clearwater, hung out on a public beach, ate lunch at a restaurant, walked around admiring bizarro-painted dolphins standing on their tails…and you want me to DO MORE STUFF??? SERIOUSLY?? Without even a hint of an argument, he says “Umm, okay, let’s just stay in tonight.”

I think this means our marriage is progressing nicely. There was a time when he would have no clue why I had that irritated look on my face, and a marathon discussion would ensue. At least we are becoming more efficient with our communication.

Day Three arrives, and I ask if we can stay in and lay on the beach all day; with a few breaks for lunch in the condo. He gives me his long-suffering look, which I correctly interpret as: “What are you TALKING about? We fly all the way to Tampa, rent a car, drive to the beach; are surrounded by tons of cool stuff to do, which I have listed in an organized and obvious manner, and you want to STAY ON THE BEACH? SERIOUSLY?” Continue reading