As strange as this may sound, my upbringing was full of contradictions. Any time I would face a difficult moment, my mom would always try and help me see the other side of the coin. However, many things in my mom’s point of view was black and white, no gray. Her way or the highway. One such instance was church. We did NOT miss Mass for anything. We might be excused if we were vomiting, and we would definitely be excused if we had died, but other than that, it was a no go. You can imagine how well that set with a slightly rebellious teenager who wasn’t afraid to argue with her momma. Sunday morning, Mom would wake me up for Mass. I would grumble and fuss and matter-of-factly inform her I would NOT be attending Mass. She left my room and I went back to sleep CERTAIN I had won this battle. We fought this battle almost every Sunday and I never won, so I’m not sure why I was so persistent. Anyhow, she would return a little while later and be a bit more stern with me and demand I get up and get ready for Mass. Again, I would point out that my friends did not HAVE to get up EVERY Sunday and it wasn’t a sin to miss every once in a while. About that point, I received “the look” and again, she left my room. Ha!!!! I definitely knew I won that fight! More time would pass and I would start to fall back in a wonderful state of sleep, when she would return, once more, to awaken me from my slumber. The arguing, on my part, would start again. However, she would grow silent (which was NEVER a good sign that it would end well for me) and waited the proper wait time before she ever so sweetly and patiently uttered the following phrase…”Honey, God is in our house 7 days a week, you can spend one hour in His House.”. Shoot, I lost. There was NO fighting that logic and I got up and went to Mass. Well-played, Momma, well played!! I learned my momma skills from the Master!!!
The issue of attendance at Mass was black and white. Actually, I wouldn’t say it was black and white…you WENT regardless if you wanted to or not.
My point to my little anecdote is to point out that although my mom knew when to pick her battles, there were certain components of life that were non-negotiable, nor open to another perspective. Did her insistence influence my Faith? Not really. I have a very strong Faith and praise God daily for my blessings and try really hard to “offer up” my hard times and struggles.
One thing I have noticed more and more about myself is that I often find that I am putting myself in another person’s shoes trying to understand their particular perspective. I think when we fully try to see another point of view, we are more able to, and apt to, accept people for who they truly are and not what we “perceive” people to be.
I would say my strongest perspective is always trying to be positive, even when things are tough. I was just speaking to Brian the other day about times being tough. I’m a single-parent running a household on my income. There has been a recent glitch and I have had to start carrying the insurance on the family. That has taken a huge chunk out of my monthly income, but I am thankful I have insurance for my kids. Getting paid monthly makes for some creative budgeting! We live like royalty for the first few weeks, then the last week my meal-planning and prep takes on a more creative roll. I can remember not so far in the distant past, where the kids and I were cushion surfing trying to find as many coins as possible in order to pay for school lunches or whatnot.
What’s my perspective on this struggle?? Well, some of my fondest memories and bonding moments with my loved ones are when money is tightest. It seems we spend a lot more time at home and less time running around. We have more dinners around the table, even if they aren’t restaurant quality. Strange, huh???
Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient has also completely transformed my level of patience for others and understanding for the elderly population. My Daddy was a great man, but his personality was heightened due to his disease. Sometimes, he would be grumpy and argumentative and really didn’t care who heard what he had to say. Not always the most fun when we were in public. He could also be incredibly flirty…again, there were many embarrassing moments when he would propose marriage to complete strangers!!! I learned to go with the flow with him. One day, he thought I was his sister and other days he would think I was momma or even a childhood girlfriend. So my take on things now? When I see someone who is hateful and misbehaving in public, I don’t automatically assume they are jerks. It could be they are having a moment. I’m sure many people thought my dad was an odd duck, when in reality he was a gentle man who suffered cruelly from a miserable disease. Strangers did not know this. How could they, he didn’t wear a stamp that indicated his trial. Like everyone else, we have no clue what is going on in each other’s life at any given moment.
Am I always the epitome of happiness? No!! There are many times I am down and frustrated. There are many times I can’t always see the forest through the trees. There are many times I find I am jaded and cynical. BUT, in the end I manage to end the self-doubt and self-pity and try to find a different take on things. I find that when I try to look through a different lens, I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for everyone, regardless of their life’s journey. My challenge during this season of Thanks and Giving is to really, truly try and put yourself in someone’s shoes. Don’t assume a person’s behavior is an automatic personality determinant. I remember reading a challenge somewhere that encouraged people to try and not complain for 24 hours. That may be something I’ll try!!!
Love and blessings to all