I had a surprise visitor this week. It was someone I care about. I haven't spoken to them or seen them in a few weeks. Life just got crazy for us both. Although we did exchange a few emails.
Imagine my surprise when they showed up at my place on their way to work!
The person couldn't stay long (because of work) but came by to say:
"It's time to clean out the closet. I'm human. I make mistakes. And I'm sure I have done things to hurt you in the past. And for that, I just want to say I'm sorry."
I was completely FLOORED!! This person has done VERY little to hurt me in life. I can probably count on one hand the times they had hurt me, and still have fingers left over. lol (if I could recall the times at all! lol) I was stunned. But they truly meant what they came to say. And they just needed to hear that I forgave them. For any and all of it. And of course I did!! I love this person!
I don't know if it was a "It's a new year, and lets start with a clean slate" kinda thing, or if it was a "This is something that is bothering me and weighing on my heart and I just need to make sure it's right" kinda thing. Maybe neither. Maybe both. The truth is, it doesn't matter what this person's reasons were. They cared about me. They cared about my relationship with them. And they just wanted everything to be okay. And it was.
I found this very odd, because out of all the people in my life, this was the last person I expected anything like this from (because they very rarely hurt anyone). In fact, there are others in my life that, I care very much for, that don't seem to be on the best of terms with each other right now. I suppose the parties involved are hurting. But how I wish they would just allow their love for each other to overcome their dispute, or misunderstanding, or whatever it is. I wish they would allow their love for each other to cover over their transgressions and allow their relationships to heal.
Relationships are tricky. We often hold on to an idea (or even ideal image) of what our relationships should be like. Our marriages, our friendships, our relationships with our parents and siblings. Even our relationships with the people we work with or got to church with. And when reality doesn't measure up to what we imagined or hoped it would be like, we get hurt. And often we hold the other people responsible. I know. Because this was a major problem in my marriage for years.
For years I had an image of what marriage should be like. And it did not include a husband who worked over 60 hours a week and weekends. No. My image was one of a husband who was home at dinner time, off on the weekends, and such. And when his job only got I worse, I blamed my husband for not making our marriage what I always imagined it should be, what I thought I had always wanted it to be. This only did more damage to our relationship.
It took hitting bottom for me to wake up. What was more important to me? My picture of what an ideal marriage was? Or my actual marriage and making it work? The answer was clear, my actual marriage.
I had to come to terms with the fact our lives were not going to be how I always imagined and wanted them to be. I had to let that die. But in doing that (and it's not easy), I also had opened myself up to new opportunities. Our marriage didn't have to make anyone else on earth happy but us. And if we're happy, our kids will be happy, and our family and friends will be happy for us. That's how it works. Who cares if he isn't the 9-5 daddy/husband. All that matters is that we deal with what the reality is, and make it work for us.
I have learned to be more supportive of his job, the hours he works, and try to make more quality of the time he is home. (we still work on all of this to this day) And it's made a vast amount of improvement in my marriage. It's allowed me to appreciate my husband in ways I never have before.
My marriage is not the only relationship I have to come to terms with.
For years after I was first married, I was upset with my relationship with my own mother. It wasn't a bad one. Not by a long shot! I loved her, and I knew she loved me. But, we didn't ever really go out and do mother-daughter stuff. Shopping? Nope. Not her bag of tea. And we never did mother-daughter lunches or dinners either. Work I suppose got in the way a lot of the time. And then I had our first child, and things change. At one point, I was upset because I felt like if I didn't make the effort to see her, I'd never see her.
Now I'm not sure how true that last statement really is. I was young. And it was just how I felt. I'm not saying it was the truth of it. The way we feel things are and the way things are in reality are usually (but not always) two different things. (something else I'm learning with age).
Whatever I perceived the problem to be in my relationship with my mother, was it worth possibly losing her over? I did love her after all. And I knew she loved me. I knew over the years, we both made mistakes. But I loved her. And so I dealt with the reality of the situation. My mom is who she is. She is not the kind of mother who enjoys hours of shopping and girl talk. That's just not her. She is more of the mother who enjoys a meal around the family table, and a movie or a show, or better yet, a ball game. And that's okay with me. I enjoy those things too. And I lover her, more than any words could possibly convey.
And I have found out that loving someone, means loving them for who they are, and not who you'd hope they'd be. I have found that out in my marriage relationship and my relationship with my own mom. And my life has been all the more joyful and richer because of it. THAT is love.
As Sean Connery say as Arthur, in First Knight: " Oh, hey, I take the good with the bad, together. I can't love people in slices."
And you know what? God is good. He gave me a mother-in-law that likes to do the things that my mother is not necessarily the most found of. So I still get to do those things. My needs/wants are still met. I get to have quality time with my mother and my mother-in-law. Sometimes my mom will go out with me. Sometimes my MIL will stay in with me. But as a whole, I know who take shopping, and who to have a night in with. And I'm okay with that. I just have to remember that each relationship in my life is different. And I have to love each person in my life as they come. And not try to change them or wish it to be differently. Because the truth is, I'm not perfect. The truth is, there are enough faults of my own that my friends and loved ones wish they could change about me (I'm sure blogging is one of them lol) But I am who I am. Just as they are who they are. They love me in spite of myself. And at times, I must learn to be the same way, and allow the relationships I have with them to be more important than anything else. That is what love is. It's forgiveness. It's acceptance. It's making the best of things even when they aren't ideal, because we love them and value a relationship with them. It's allowing love to cover over transgressions when needed. It's valuing a relationship above how we think things should be.
These are just some things I have learned the past several years. Things I have wanted to share but never seemed to be the right time or that I even had the right words. So much has happened in my life this past week or 2. And I have tried to blog several times since then alone, but never found the right words. I'm not sure I have this time either. But it's something that has been on my heart. Something I have been wanting to share for some time now.
Do you really love the people in your life? Or do you love the ideal version of them you have in you mind? Do you really want a relationship with them? Or do you only want the picture perfect relationship you have in your head?
Life is messy. It is rarely picture perfect. And we all screw things up at some point or another, if not several times over a life span. I am thankful for those in my life who love me for me. Who let their love for me cover over my transgressions. Who have stuck by me long enough for me to learn some of the tough lessons I have written about here. God bless them! They all deserve medals!