Are we petty far beyond what we see or understand?
I ask this question on the heels of some events this weekend. I had a conflict with my wife over a renovation we are doing. Not atypical for a couple I am sure. But a comment she made inordinately got under my skin and I had a hard, hard time shaking my miffed state. I fell silent and moody for a time, yet had a full realization inside that I was being wrong for reacting so strongly. I knew, somehow, I was making a tempest in a tea pot and was disappointed in my own weakness. More on this in a moment.
The second situation of this type was when I drove my son to his soccer game the next day. Just me and him. It is one of my favourite events of the week. As we pulled into the parking lot of the field, I said quietly to myself, “Please … don’t let me see ‘Ugly’ here”. “Ugly”, or “The Gargoyle”, are two of my more polite names for my kids’ step-dad. As you can see, I still have some maturing and recovering to do in this area. Progress, not perfection.
Ugly is universally observed to be an ass-kisser who, appears to put more time and focus into my kids than his own. Why? Seemingly to suck up to my ex. Ugly and I have some deep unresolved issues from years ago that have never been rectified. We have not spoken in nearly 10 years. Everyone, including people who would side with my ex, such as her own family, agree that Ugly owes me an apology for his behaviour years ago and continued behaviour. In spite of the traces of bitterness I expressed in the last couple paragraphs, this is indeed the new and improved version from where I was at years ago.
Glad to report, Ugly was not in attendance that day which left me free to enjoy the game without his annoying and distracting presence. My ex was indeed there which, although we have little to talk about, we have made great improvements and can be completely congenial. So there we sat at our respective but distant parts of the park adoring and cheering on our son as he played skillfully.
I wonder if God looks down on the petty squabble I had with my wife over the renovation and the under-my-skin trace of resentment toward Ugly and laughs? No different than when I hear my kids arguing over how many dishes each will put away when they are sharing the after-dinner-chore. Or who got the bigger slice of pizza or strawberry-rhubarb pie?
How much impact on the world, humanity, or any of my kids as individuals does it really have if one puts away 8 dishes and the other puts away 7? Or if one slice of pizza is 3″ while the other is 3 1/8″?
Even wrongs such as betrayal? When God looks down on humanity throughout history and sees the atrocities of war and murder, does he lovingly laugh at grudges over renovation timelines and parents at opposite ends of the soccer field? Not that he doesn’t care, but more perhaps that he knows that he has such better things for us. The least of which is not Grace, that when applied properly, can resolve centuries of wrongs and pains.
Are we, in our comfortable western societies, particularly those of us who are employed, fed, clothed, and have medical care, not acting like a bunch of teens who hyperfocus on who put away 7 dishes versus 8 or got ‘ripped off’ of 1/8″ of pizza?
Glad to say that when the light went on for me yesterday about my attitude about the renovation, I quickly put it aside, hugged my wife, told her how I was feeling and that I was wrong for being petty, and we agreed to put the matter aside.
In addition, my ex and I had a brief but polite exchange at the end of the game as we went our separate ways and my son and I had our traditional post-game lunch and game recap.
I hope to make continued improvements in my attitude toward my kids’ step-father. The wrongs are real, like the extra dish is real, but really, in the scheme of things, how much energy is it worth?