Monday, September 12, 2016

For the Sake of the Children

It's another beautiful day in Southern California.
I ran into an old friend. We were "bench buddies" when our kids were small. We would meet before school got out and chat until the kids showed up. During that period of time of our lives, her husband, who had been a married couples co-leader with her in church, had an affair and had decided he needed to leave her and the kids in order to start a new life and be "happy".

I remember at the time, I gave her advice from the small child in me who had deeply desired to have a relationship with my father. I suggested that the best thing she could do for her little ones was to, somehow, learn how to be civil with her ex and his new wife (who just happened to be their pastor’s unmarried daughter). I didn’t say forgive or become friends as those were concepts beyond my ability to fathom.  My friend ended up losing her marriage, her church home and a number of friends but she followed my advice. Since then, as a counselor, she shared that advice with every person it applied to...letting them know it was the best advice she got as she traveled the journey of divorce and life after. But today when she and I talked, she observed that although my advice was meant to be in the best interest of the children, it was also in her best interest. She was able to get on with life, putting aside her hurt, anger and grievances for the "sake of the children" and found within herself finding forgiveness and an unexpected peace. Meanwhile, the pastor’s daughter was petty and ugly, rarely thinking of anyone but herself. 

I was so happy for her and I realized I had done the same thing. My kids were no longer children but my intentions were the same. I wanted them to never have to choose. I wanted them to never hear me bad mouth or disregard the father they love dearly. I wasn't fully successful, especially in the early days when I was still finding out all the terrible things that had been happening but at some point I realized what the child in me was asking for……begging me to not make the same mistakes that I had witnessed as a child. Many of the circumstances were very different but, just the same, I am proud that I was able to eventually choose kindness and tolerance over bitterness and spite.

I am proud of myself....I did a really good job.  I cannot tell you how hard that is for me to say but it is good practice. I'll say it again.....I did a damn good job.

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