My dad doesn’t hurt my feelings all the time. Hear my daughter’s story…
After graduating into middle school, our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, began exhibiting more than a few signs of moodiness.
Of course, this was to be expected. She was growing, maturing, changing, and becoming more and more her own person. With any change-let alone all the changes a twelve-year-old goes through-our emotions tend to go in a wave pattern. Up one minute, down the next. Sometimes down more than up.
Still, it’s not always easy to respond in a calm, polite, loving manner when your oldest daughter starts accusing you, her father, of “always” doing this and “never” doing that, for as long as she can remember.
Before she went to bed one night, Elizabeth was especially moody. We talked. She poured out her latest complaint against me. I was incredulous. Does she really believe what she’s saying?
I swallowed hard, and then asked a question I’ve found unlocks a myriad of mixed-up feelings.
“Elizabeth, what you’ve just said-is that true, or is that how you feel?”
It’s amazing what an effect this question has during a moment of heated emotions.
“It’s how I feel,” Elizabeth admitted.
I paused, then asked, “Then what do you think is really true?”
She told me something we both could agree upon instantly. Yes, Dad didn’t respond well in a given situation a few minutes ago.
“I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. Would you please forgive me?” I asked.
I could see a sense of relief come over Elizabeth’s face and shoulders. No, my dad doesn’t hurt my feelings all the time. The world is a better place, again!
Even as adults, we need to sometimes stop and ask ourselves: What I’m thinking-is it true, or is it how I’m feeling?
Without denying our feelings of anger-and sometimes-even rage-it’s liberating to differentiate those emotions from the larger facts at hand.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that whenever someone becomes enraged at me, odds are we’re only two steps away from becoming good friends.
First, because that person is emotionally engaged in our relationship. There’s passion!
Second, because if true Christianity is about anything, it’s about reconciliation. Once a matter is settled, the other person and I are bonded. Sometimes for a while. Sometimes for life.
Thankfully, the same principles apply to my relationship with my children, as Elizabeth and I can attest.