Goodbye for now—-Day #11 of the 30 day challenge to blog

Comedy at it’s most basic root, is merely setting up an expectation, and then breaking it. But, sadly, the subject matter of this blog is not a joke.

If you’ve been reading my earlier blogs, you know that my relationship with my father is not doing well. Without going into great detail, mid conversation I needed to break free. I needed to be healthy. I needed to guard my heart. And ironically I came up with this decision based on what my Dad did to me. He stopped talking to me for the last seven months without warning or explanation.

People need to withdraw sometimes, or at least they think they do. But what hurt the most was I was left wandering. Much like the israelites wandering in the dessert wondering where their Abba Father was…waiting for the manna to fall from heaven. The last seven months I’ve been wandering in the desert of my heart and left wondering where my Daddy is…wondering why he wasn’t calling me back, but like I mentioned I found out. I was rude to him in a text. He needed to do what he needed to do. So without a a farewell or a goodbye he disappeared.

The good news is he accepted my apology in a text, but the bad news is he didn’t offer one back. I guess he didn’t think I deserved one, or needed one. These are the moments I look up to Jesus the most. I picture him on the cross being murdered and screaming out…”Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” I wish I could do that too. Because maybe it’s true…maybe he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I mean, if I’m not pulling punches here I do think he’s blinded by his own selfishness…and therefore…he doesn’t know. I sure hope he doesn’t, because I’m in enough pain already. If I thought he was aware…if he was accurately aware of the pain, hell, and sleepless nights he’s put me through and what his sins were in this relationship and didn’t care to admit them or repent of them…well, that thought is too terrifying to contemplate, I’m afraid.

The last seven months have been a familiar feeling. You see when I was a little boy, my dad was my hero. He wasn’t a saint. He was a sinner. And he liked that. He joked about his unholy escapades. He told me often, “I don’t want to be your dad, I just want to be your friend.” Growing up I thought this was so cool. “My dad is just my buddy.” It wasn’t until later in life till I realized how fucked up that was.

It wasn’t all bad growing up. There wasn’t just a little good with my Dad. There was a lot. My parents divorced when I was two. So I don’t have a shred of a memory in tact with them under the same house. Except when my Dad would pick me up on the occasional weekend. I do remember my Grandma. St. Grandma always had a fondness for my Dad. My Dad’s side of the family is Jewish, & even though G-ma was a loyal,  non-religious-Jesus lovin’, cussin’ Christian she would often tell me…”David, you know why you’re so special?” …”Why, grandma?” “Because…you’re Jewish.” No my Grandma was no dummy…she knew that because my mother wasn’t Jewish…I wasn’t considered Jewish…but I love that Grandma taught me to love & identify with my Jewish heritage…even if they don’t identify with me because…as they say in the Harry Potter movies…”I’m only a half-blood.” Yep. I just refrenced Harry Potter. Hashtag geek.

I remember I saw Die Hard before my Dad, and on a weekend visit at his Log Cabin in Bloomington, Indiana…he watched it and after it finished he said…”David, I will always trust your choice in movies…wow!” In that same Log Cabin…I remember my cousin John Hocker and I were working for him at one of his food cooking shows. Oh, yeah my Dad is an amazing chef by the way. And on this one weekend he started this food fight with me & john. I remember John & I running upstairs to the barren room with a futon on the floor that was deemed as “my room”…and it being a very old log cabin…we took at the vent from the floor and we could not only look to the lower level…but we could reach are arms down there…so we were able to continue the food fight by throwing coffee beans at my Dad.  I can still picture my Dad’s face as he put his hands through the vent and lifted his face up screaming at us…screaming with hilarity and joy. I doubled over in laughter.

My Dad really is a great chef. He sucks at business, oh man is he Bad…and I only say that because I think he could be a millionaire right now because of how many people have raved and ranted about his food. It’s truly spectacular, but the business part eludes him. I think most geniuses are incredible at usually one or two things…the truly eye-blinking geniuses way more than a few…but the commonality with all of them is that while they are really smart with some things…they are completely dumb with others. And as it turns out, my Dad is dumb with relationships. And he is probably ill-equipped in that department, because his pride can’t allow him to see any other alternative than…”They are wrong. I am right. End of story.”

I remember the first fight I had with my Dad was when I told him I was a Christian. While my Dad was born Jewish. At this stage of his life he was a Pagan. He may still be, although he claims otherwise from time to time. He did not want me to be a Christian. I remember when I told him. It was after a trip where he had to sneak me to Disney World when I was 13. He had to sneak me away…because my Mom wouldn’t allow him to take me out of state. I literally had to lie and pretend I didn’t go to Disney World. Anyway when the trip ended, I remember sitting in a Mcdonalds on the east side of Indianapolis…and I told my Dad and Step Mom I was a Christian…and something strange happened…My Dad started making fun of me for how much ketchup I was using. it was an odd thing. I’ve always used a lot of ketchup, matter of fact I still do. But as he was teasing me, he was angry. We’d always joke, but his jokes on this day that I had never experienced before in my previous 13 years had a new element in the recipe…it had shame. Like I’ve said before…it’s funny how certain images stick with you…I still remember their faces laughing at me. And I remember how it felt.

If my Dad were here to defend himself you might here him say this. I was at your high school graduation, your college graduation, at your wedding, and came to visit you when you had a baby. He was a check-list dad. Here’s what he wouldn’t tell you. Those four visits would be the only time he would travel to see me in the last 19 years. After a “work trip” I took with him to a cooking show in Arizona…that was the last time he ever picked me up for a visit. Every visit after that except for the four…were when I would go and work for him. That’s the only way I could see my Dad, if I were his employee. Oh sure we could chat on the phone like chums…when ever he was lonely around the holidays, or on a long road trip and he needed to stay away. But that’s pretty much it.

You know that feeling when you defend someone so long, that eventually run out of excuses. Well that happened around the time I was 26. I remember I was living in LA and I flew to …man I don’t even remember…New York maybe…or Mississippi to work for my Dad…and in a quiet moment I saw myself in his food concession booth, serving a Gyros Sandwich to a customer and said…”This is gross”…Not the sandwich…like I said he kicks ass at cooking…but our relationship…it shouldn’t be this way…that the only way I could see my Dad was to go work for him. So right then in there after a decade of going to see him, to work for him, just so I could get some face time with the old man…I made a vow. No more. I will always be open, desire, and have open arms to a relationship with my Dad…but I’m not doing this shit anymore. It’s unhealthy. It’s unhealthy for me. And whether he knows it or not…I’m only enabling this work-a-holic….that’s the nice way to put it…how I felt and feel is…”I’m only enabling this selfish prick.” I don’t mean to be crass. I mean to take a metaphorical bucket of water and splash it in my Dad’s face. You may be thinking…should he be making this public…should he be saying this…he should talk to his Dad…not to all of us.

Let me be clear about something. One, been there done that. Two, tried…the only thing that his ears can hear are how great he is…not how bad he is. And three…oh, I hope he reads it. He will one day. This letter will get back to him. And that’s the point. And here’s what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to be nice. You know why…(and I learned this from my friend Jesse and his principles for his company up in Seattle called Belief)….because being nice isn’t loving. You know what is loving…being kind. You see if I’m nice. I’ll bullshit the man. But if I’m kind, I’ll be honest. When you’re nice, you can put on the people-pleasing mask and water down the truth with flowers & spray it with perfume. But you see my Dad is sick. His heart is sick. It’s a mess. He’s however old…and one day he will die. And I won’t enable him anymore in his unhealhtyness…I’m going to tell him the truth…because I do believe that kindness leads to repentance…and sometimes that’s a hug…and sometimes that’s a punch to the gut with truth…to wake the people we love up…Wake them up from their comma of self-denial. So because I truly love my Dad, I’m gonna say this right here…right now…with the hope…no the prayers …that one day he’ll read this…Dad, you’re an asshole. Wake up. Stop hurting others. For when you hurt others, you are also hurting yourself. And all this pain you’re inflicting on the people you love, is also killing you. So stop being a selfish prick…and looking at life through the lens of your selfishness…and then maybe you won’t be so confused about why things are they way they are.

By the way…you wanna know why I think there’s so many assholes, judgmental, legalistic pricks in the faith of Christianity. Because we’ve been nice to them. We’ve been polite. Instead we should’ve been kind. I mean, folks, when did Jesus ever say…”Come follow me…and go forth and be polite.”

Trust me. I’ve tried the polite thing for years with my Dad. The gentle voice. The servant’s heart. With all that is good, you’re showing what the gospel is all about…compassion, servanthood, etc…but remember Jesus also called the religious assholes of his day …”A brood of vipers…” And you may go oh but we should always be loving…but let me try to shed some light on this for you…culturally speaking…the weight of what Jesus said to the religious leaders of his Dad was..”you mother fuckers”…don’t believe me? Fine. But do me a favor…go do your Biblical Exegesis homework before you email me a nasty note…you may end up disagreeing with me that Jesus basically said “you mother fuckers” to the religious assholes of his day…but here is where maybe we can agree…Jesus wasn’t nice to them, was he?

You know what I’m feeling a little more raw this morning than usual. So forgive me for not pulling punches on here with language (by the way if you are offended I use cussing on this blog…see Blog #1…and if you still don’t agree…than stop reading…you’re on my Facebook page…reading my blog…I’m not on your page dropping f-bombs) Anyway…I am raw…you have been in a bike wreck when you were a kid? And you’re all scrapped up and bloody? That’s how I am this morning. And to be honest, it worse than that…it’s a a wound that is gushing blood.

The funny thing is I don’t feel bitter at my Dad. I even feel like I’ve forgiven my Dad. Why? Well, I’m angry, yes. But if tomorrow my dad would metaphorically come home…and even start to apologize…I would run to him in the field and hug and kiss my Dad before he even got out the apology. That’s the reconciliation free offered with the Father & the prodigal son…we see in Luke 15 in the scriptures…

You know what verse scares the shit out of me…the one where Jesus says…”For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”. Oh, great. That’s one that keeps me up at night…for two reasons. 1) My mom. 2) My dad.

I think if we define forgiveness as canceling the debt. They don’t owe me anything, an apology, a relationship, their time, a visit, a camping trip, …love. So yeah, I think I’ve forgiven them. Both. But…it’s confusing.

If I’m honest this whole forgiveness, and reconciliation thing is like the rubik’s cube. Confusing. Mind Boggling. Unless you’re a genius. And I do think there are geniuses of the heart out there. I’m just not one of them.

A few years back when I had a falling out with my mom & my dad in one big tangled natural disaster of the heart involving both the past & the present. My Dad just destroyed me, and the sad truth is …I think what he broke that day…with his violent words…may not be able to be fixed. It may be able to be forgiven. But maybe not fixed. It wasn’t till going through that experience that I learned something about relationships.

My whole life my parents where …well shitty parents…it just took me longer to see it with my Dad. With my mom…it was pretty much right out of the gate. Again, both have great qualities, just being parent’s aren’t on that list. But being the good little dutiful Christian boy I was always taught to be from the church…was…”they are your parents…you have to love and honor them”…so pretty much my whole life I’ve tried to be nice, be polite, and accept that I’m not allowed to talk about ways I’ve been hurt, or ways that they have sinned against me…because it either didn’t happen…or they will emotionally explode..and maybe on occasion get an umbrella apology with a guilt trip thrown in there for good measure like…”Fine. I was a horrible mother is that what you want to hear…???!!!” So you can’t talk about things with Mom, or Dad. you just can’t. Their pride can’t handle it. Oh, and by the way it’s always your fault. And by your’s, I mean mine. At least that’s the lie I’ve always been told. And even at 35 it’s hard to live in the truth versus the lie.

When the family natural disaster happened a few years back, a friend of mine who was a pastor gave me a helpful, and as it turns out healing piece of advice…he said…”Back away…” And another pastor presented me with an idea that I feel silly that I never understood until a few years ago…He said…”David, do you understand there is a difference between forgiveness & reconciliation?” I didn’t.

But here’s the rub. I want to be like Jesus. And Jesus not only forgives…he pursues, and even haunts us with his love and reconciliation is always on the table with God. Whether we choose to take it and trade our hearts for his heart is another matter.

But you know what here’s the deal…and there’s no poetry to this…just flat out honesty. I don’t know how to have a relationship with my Mom or my Dad. I just don’t. I think I have forgiven them. But I’ve never been good at the fake thing…but I’ve always had to wear the mask with them…because we can’t talk about anything real…because in order to do that…there’s a shit load to talk about and work through…but that just aint’ gonna happen.

But people say…Well it’s your parents…and they will always will be…yep. yep. yep, yep, yep. I don’t know what else to say to that. They are my parents. And others will say but they are just incapable of talking about the past, and are too selfish to admit their wrong-doing…I couldn’t agree more…so I’m encouraged to just accept them right where they are at…

But here’s what that would involve…chit chat. That’s hit. Superficial chit chat. And you know what. I’ve done that for years, and years, and years. I can’t do it anymore. It’s just not real. And maybe I’m wrong. I’d love to be. But I need God to tell me, and should it be through the wisdom of wise counsel fine…but I just don’t know how to be reconciled with my parents…but I have a gut feeling it’s not to go back to that fake mask where we just pretend like the last 35 years didn’t happen…and we go back to chit chat.

I’m done with chit chat. Life’s too short for that shit.

I backed away from my relationship with my mother over a year ago. We haven’t talked on the phone in almost 15 months or so. And I’ve never felt healthier. You know what the distance did for me. Not only did it bring healing, but the desire is building for me to actually reach out to her again. Emotional proximity to someone that unhealthy and toxic isn’t such a good idea…and when you back away from the fire of that unhelathiness …you can get healthy. For I don’t think you can love anyone well when you’re unhealthy yourself. I had some wise friends and loved ones that really challenged me when I decide to take a break form communication for an unknown amount of time with my mom…I told her…and it not go well. She was vile. And has my friend Dave Mullins said, “Hurt people hurt people.” Dave also challenged me to really see if my decision to back away from my Mom was a healthy one. And the conclusion I came to was…Yes. Dave and I may disagree on this one. But just because you love someone..doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Dave and I may disagree with each other on this one…but with the time away from my mom…something beautiful happened. My bitterness dissipated, my wounds started healing, and I started to learn and be able to have the clarity to think through what healthy boundaries would be not only for me…but also for my wife and kid…and what a plan of action would be to offer reconciliation to my mother…because after all I do still want to be like Jesus…but I’m not God. And it’s healthy to remind myself, that it’s a noble thing to want to be an imitator of God in his love and compassion, but it’s also healthy to acknowledge that I’m not Jesus. Period. Bottom line…the wisdom I gained from departing for a time from my Mom was…”Yes I should forgive. Yes I should love. Even my enemies. And even my parents when they become my enemies. But in order to love well, I need to be healthy…because if I’m not healthy…I’m just going to live in my hurt…and as Dave said..hurt people hurt people…” I need to be healthy in order to forgive, and especially reconcile. For healthiness of the spirit brings wisdom. I’m sure that’s in proverbs somewhere…someone should fact check that…;-)

Yesterday on the phone with my Dad, after he went on to tell me why he disappeared for seven months because I hurt him so badly. I said, Dad that’s fair. I actually get that. And you know what I need that too. But here’s the difference. I’m not going to disappear. I’m telling you that I need time too, because you hurt me. And I’m not gonna bullshit you…the hurt you’ve done to me versus I’ve done to you doesn’t even compare. And that’s not arrogance. That’s just being observant. But I do love you. And I want so badly for you to be my Dad, I really do. But were gonna need to learn how to have a relationship again. I just need some time. I’ll reach out to you when I’m ready. And right then and there my Dad said, “Ok. bye.” And hung up the phone.

One of the most painful memories for me is packing up my little blue panda bear suitcase for me, taking it out into my Grandma’s living room, climbing upon her green chair that was next to the door and looked out a large window. And I would wait for my dad’s white toyota celica to pull into the drive way. And sometimes that toyota cellcia would never pull in the driveway with no rhyme or reason. So the last seven months felt really familiar. The pain felt like an old family member coming into town. A family member I wish never showed up.

I’m just stuck folks. I don’t know what to do. Eventually I’ll write them letters I suppose, and in the mean time I’ll pray against bitterness in my heart. I probably need to see a counselor again. I definitely need to be in community with the saints. And daily bathe in the furious love of God, and know that he’s the Daddy that my Dad could never be. And he’s gonna be a better Daddy anyway. And the good news he’s not gonna disappear. He’ll always be there with open arms.

I pray and hope for reconciliation with both my mom and dad. It may never happen. And no matter how confusing it is…I’m still gonna try to love, forgive, and pursue to reconcile with my parents. But I know I need to be healthy. And so do they. And I can no longer be their enabler by being nice. I need to be healthier than nice. I need to be honest. And kind. And even though my kindness has led me to say good bye to them both. I hope it’s ..if not now…if not for a long time to come…eventually it will lead them to a wake up call. And hopefully that wake up call will lead them to repentance. Repentance more importantly to God our heavenly Daddy…and when they are baptized into the fury of their love…they will die and be raised to new life…new and healthy and willing to love like Jesus loves…and then maybe the verse that says…’Kindness leads to repentance” will take on a new meaning for me. Because sometimes being kind…for me at least…means having the courage to say good bye. Not good bye for ever. But good bye for now. It’s the most loving and healthy and wise thing you can do. Not only for yourself, but also for them.

Goodbye Dad. Not forever, but for now….

David Leo Schultz

P.s….do me a favor…no public comments today. I’m beat up, bruised, and bloody by this whole thing…and even though a lot of you folks are great and mean well..and hear me when I say…I love you all and am so thankful for your encouragement, love, and prayers…there’s a brokenness in me…that when I’m going through painful things likes this…sometimes kindness and a bunch of flowery Christian sentiments is not what I need…what I need is just prayer…I don’t even need to know you’re praying for me. God hears you, trust me. But if you still feel the need you can message me. Don’t be mad at me for asking this request…I’m just hurting. Thx & much love to all…

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~ by David Leo Schultz on October 16, 2015.

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