Supposedly, it happens to the best of us. The words that made us roll our eyes when we were 12 come out of us, directed at the next generation of children…who inwardly roll their eyes at us.
You’re way too old for this I recently said. And almost immediately thought ugh, I hated hearing that.
You’re way too old for this was one of my Dad’s phrases, and I guess it’s now one of mine. So perhaps the days leading up to Father’s Day were the perfect time to reflect on the things in my life that I am way too old to still be dancing around or allowing, or not admitting or not dealing with.
Sometimes what we think is wrong. It happens to all of us. That’s why we have to think about what we think. Which brings me to another gem of my Dad’s. THINK about what you’re thinking and thinking about, Beth. And think about what you’re putting into your mind. I think at sixteen, he probably just wanted me to stop listening to Madonna, but those lessons are still important at 47 – and it turns out that when I think about it, there are several things I am way too old for.
I am under no obligation to listen to a steaming pile of wrongness. The moment we realize how off-base or wrong someone is, it’s OK for us to stop them right there – to protect the space in our brains and hearts, so our time isn’t wasted, and/or to stop others around us from being hurt, distracted, angered or upset by ridiculousness. We might sometimes choose to hear the whole thing out, but we’re not required to. Politeness does not make one a nice or good human. We don’t owe anyone an audience, and we’re not bad humans if we don’t give all words or energy a space in our brain.
I don’t have to have people in my life who contribute negativity. I am also way too old for that. No matter who they are, or how good they are in other ways, or how long I’ve known them, I can wish people well and not have them in my day to day life – and that’s OK.
I am also too old to continue thinking I can change or control other people. We can’t threaten or will or shame people into making decisions we think are best for themselves or those around them. We also can’t legislate people into being good or into heaven.
Sometimes what is wrong for us, from caffeine after 4 pm to a beer after work to taking a knee to owning a gun, is OK or even right for others. I am way too old to be assuming the way I need or want to live or behave is the only right or good way.
I disconnected from a number of people in the last election cycle because I could not see past their vote to see or recall the goodness in them. That was a mistake, and I am way too old to forget to focus on the goodness that is in most people. We all are so much more than our votes, mistakes, neighborhoods, family structures, job titles, and perhaps even what we and others think.
I am way too old to be living in an unreal LaLa Land, where I embrace what I want to be true instead of what is. I can have hope and goals while still being realistic about where I am or where we are. I have a child who battles anxiety and instead of thinking I can manage or love that away, I must take action to help her and us so we can all live our best lives. I have a child who’s driving and will go off to college in just two short years – I can keep her from ever leaving the house to keep her safe or I can prepare her to navigate the world, and to have fun while taking some risks, and to love herself anyway when she makes mistakes.
I am way too old to be putting off some of the items on my bucket list. I am way too old to be making excuses for not getting out to walk or taking the stairs. And I am way too old to not be honest with myself about my mistakes and where I need to be better.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I may have been rolling my eyes, but I was listening. I’m just still a work in progress, while it seems like you’ve been a finished product my whole life. The youth bible you gave me when I started high school, that’s been old and worn for quite some time, still stays right on my nightstand with my more adult translation – because I am way too old to still be doing a lot of things, and because one thing I’m never too old for is reading and thinking about the scriptures you spoke and speak into my life, and that you highlighted and underlined for me.