Saturday, June 27, 2015

Life is Messy

I've been thinking a lot about how messy life is.

Sunday was Father's Day and two days ago would have been my parents 42nd anniversary, and both are bittersweet days for me. The pain is no longer acute, but it's funny to me how things will come up out of nowhere - an email from someone connected to the last day I saw my dad, a comment he writes on a relative's Facebook page, running into someone who knew me a long time ago when my parents were together- that remind me of how when relational fracture happens it doesn't just go away. We carry it around with in our bodies and in our memories. It doesn't just affect one person, but it reverberates out and affects small communities of people.

On Sunday, as I was thinking about Father's Day, I thought about good things about my own dad, even though now it is so hard to sift through the past and know what was true and what wasn't. I'll never know how many years ago my dad started lying to me, and what he did and didn't lie about. Sometimes I'll remember something that happened many years ago that didn't add up at the time, and I'll work it through in my mind, wondering if that too was a lie and that's why it didn't make sense at the time. That said, I know my dad loved me. It was flawed, as all love is, and the reality of it versus the projected public version of it feels like two different entities, but it was still love. I know there were things my dad gifted my family that I am thankful for.

Then I started thinking about Matt: what a good dad he is, how he rounds me out, and gives the girls habits and qualities that I wouldn't be able to. I started thinking about all of the other men I know who have modeled good dad qualities to me over the years, and who do the same now to my own children. So instead of dwelling on the messy and the hard, and the parts of Father's Day that feel sucky, I decided to think about and be grateful for all of those people.

On my parents' would-have-been-anniversary I thought of the same thing...the parts of my parents' marriage that taught me, supported me and shaped me, and the marriages around me that scaffold me now, that encourage and inspire Matt and me in our own marriage. I remember before Matt and I were married, we met with a bunch of married couples to get advice and wisdom before getting married. One of the couples we met with was my parents. At the time my parents were still married. A piece of advice that my dad gave me was that you can always learn something from another couple- no matter how much you don't like their relationship or regardless of how different it is from your own. So in the spirit of that, I often try to think of the things I learned from my dad or from my parents marriage, despite all of the pain and disruption that happened towards the end of my relationship with my dad. You can always learn.

The messy isn't going anywhere, and so for today at least, I see the mess and make some mud pies out of it all.

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