“My experience is that the teachers we need most are the people we’re living with right now.” ~Byron Katie
I never had a good relationship with my father when I was younger.
Sometimes he expressed his opinions in a rude way, sounding more like an attack than advice.
Many times he apologized after being rude, but I was too cold to forgive or listen.
The years passed, and I never made an effort to improve our relationship. It felt easier to deal with my mother. She was the one I always went to when I needed something, had a question, and wanted permission to do something. My dad was always the last to know things about me, good and bad.
In 2013, my mother had an intense asthma attack and went into a coma. I have no brothers and not many close relatives. It was just me and my father, experiencing a totally unexpected, tragic situation.
I never had patience or an open heart to stop and listen to him, but then I had no choice. We needed to stay together and help each other.
Love is not the end result but in the effort to reach it. If someone is trying to improve, we should recognize this effort, even if the result has not yet been reached.
I had lived with my father for twenty-five years and never knew him because I was not humble enough to see his effort to improve our relationship every day. But when we are broken, we finally get real and open.
I had focused only the negative—his insensitivity in expressing himself—but I had not recognized the love he expressed in many actions, every day. I also disregarded all the times he had forgiven me for the harsh things I’d said to him. If he’d forgiven me, why did he not deserve to be forgiven?
When people need to come together for a common goal, for something they consider more valuable than pride, they become open to miracles.
I believe there is a reason why we are born in a certain family, in a certain country.
All the people who cross our paths have important lessons to teach us. Even the people who we consider the most negative are our teachers and are doing a service for our own evolution.
The sooner we learn, the sooner the turbulence ends.
I decided I would carry that feeling through the remainder of my days with my father. What did I learn in those days?
The Importance of Tolerance
Why do we develop the habit of having an instant response to everything that someone tells us? Is it always worth discussing? In the first seconds of anger, we commit the biggest mistakes. It is better to step away, breathe, and then talk calmly.
People can have different opinions about things, but this is not a reason to argue.
People have different difficulties, and everyone has their own flaws to overcome.
Instead of focusing on the negative and arguing, we must recognize everyone’s positive qualities. When we focus on the best in people, we generally inspire it.
What Really Matters
Sometimes we want to be right when it pertains to small things that won’t matter in an hour. And what really matters when we’re talking about co-existence with the people we love?
What matters are the good times and memories.
What matters is the respect and support.
What matters is knowing that the person is on your side when you need them.
The Power of Listening
I realized that I often responded not to what I had heard, but to what I thought the person intended to say—and I often responded in anger.
Because I was so often angry, I couldn’t see when my father changed. He had, but I had not.
If we listen carefully, we will recognize far fewer offenses, because many of them are in our heads.
If we feel this isn’t the case and decide to speak up, we can share our thoughts in a more delicate way, especially if we care about the listener’s heart.
How to Love
In those days, we hugged every morning. We both showed love for each other and for my mother.
We prayed together, wiped each other’s tears away, consulted with each other, asked how the other was feeling, and really listened to what the other had to say.
We often forget these gestures with the people who are closest to us. We forget how important is to say “Good morning” with a smile upon our face, give a hug, and sit for ten minutes to ask the other person how their day’s going.
Love allows us to be a lighthouse for each other, but we have to consciously choose to shine our light.
My mother is finally better, and our relationship has improved greatly as a family. I cherish every day because of the chance I received, and I make an effort to remember to feel as open I was in the days when I was broken.
We don’t have to wait to feel broken to improve our relationships. We can start being more tolerant, focusing on what matters, listening more, and loving better on any day we choose.
What can you do today to improve your relationships?
Photo by slightly-less-random