"That's just the way I am is not an excuse for anything."
I've shared this phrase with others
several many times through my life.
It's not too difficult to tell my friends, my family they're not allowed to use this excuse as a limitation for why they can't do something. Or as a reason to continue acting in a manner that has become customary for them when it proves to be ineffective in their relationships with others. Or for just being a jerk.
But it's another thing for me to point the finger back in my direction. I'm
rather very resistant.
I've been a husband for 22+ years. And over that time, the Holy Spirit has definitely used my wife as a means of rubbing off many of my "rough edges". Not that I have it all together, I can still be pretty dramatic at times, I will admit. But my wife tells me I'm nowhere near as "edgy" (harsh) as I once was.
I've been a dad for 15+ years now. I've crafted my "Dad" persona pretty carefully. And really, without patting myself on the back too hard, I feel like I've become pretty decent in that role.
I've been "me" much longer. Almost 3x as long as I've been a dad, and over 2x as long as I've been a husband. And I've really worked to be a me who is likeable, gets along well with others, is encouraging to others, well grounded in the Bible, and who behaves in a fairly reasonable manner in the face of almost anything.
In other words, I've felt pretty "in control" for a long time now.
But then we went through the paperwork and training to become a foster family. And earlier this year, we welcomed one and then two teenage young ladies into our home. I won't go into much detail, but their life experience and general manner of relating to the world does not match up with ours. With mine. With me.
I have a certain way of doing things. Of relating to others. Of being a parent. Of being me.
And over the past few months, I'm catching onto something:
My way doesn't always work well with these young ladies.
But - did I mention? - I'm pretty set in my ways. And as much as I like adventure and change, I'm pretty resistant when I am required to change. And really, come on...it's not like I'm even doing anything wrong. In fact, maybe the problem is really their problem, not mine.
And then I hear the voice of the Holy Spirit (did I mention He often speaks through my wife?):
"That's just the way I am isn't an excuse for anything."
So, I'm growing. Or, rather, I'm asking God to teach me how I need to grow. And it's painful. And I don't like it. Is it worth it, though? I think so - I pray so.
And, I think, this is what family is supposed to be. It's about growing, adapting, changing. Never being satisfied with status quo, especially when it doesn't really work for someone else within the family. And why? Because that is what we are all called to do.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:1-4