My dad and I got into a loud disagreement when I went to see him last week. I’d call it a fight, but knowing my dad, he would say it was more of a passionate discussion.
He wasn’t feeling well and (in my opinion) was a little crabby. I was sore and tired from a 10 hour car ride with three children, so I suppose it’s possible that I was a little crabby, too.
Anyway, Friday morning rolls around and we’re sitting in the kitchen having breakfast. My dad starts in on how he hates looking at photos on phones because they’re too hard to see and people should really just print off the damn pictures like they used to.
I pointed out to my dad that we still live in a world of color printers and if would remind me, I’d be happy to make a real, live copy for him to hold in his hands.
Now, that would have been fine. I could have stopped there. But no. Since my mouth was already open, I decided to carry on and tell him how negative I thought he had been for the past two days about all of our conversations.
By the time my husband walked in the room, the decibel level was through the roof. My dad and I went toe to toe, and after about five minutes, I won. He apologized and said he would try to be more positive.
But I didn’t win. Because two days later, my dad had a major stroke.
He has been lying in a hospital bed all week, unable to move one side of his body and unable to recognize most of the people who walk in the room. There is still bleeding on his brain. I will never get the old version of my dad back again, but there is a chance I won’t even get to live with a new version.
I’m kicking myself for not leading with kindness. For not pulling him aside, later, after I had taken the time to think about what I really wanted to say.
I turned to the ultimate guide for advice and opened to a passage that I had never noticed before. If you’ve never read the Bible and don’t care to, please don’t leave me now. I have a point to make that pertains to all of us.
In Mark 11:11 it says this: “So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After carefully looking around at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.”
Three verses later, otherwise known as the next morning, all heck breaks loose: “When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the table of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.”
Do you see what happened there? Jesus didn’t unleash his fury the first time he saw the Temple. He carefully looked around at everything and then without saying a word, he left. The next day, after he had a night to sleep on it, he went in with the roundhouse kick.
Raising your voice, having a passionate discussion isn’t wrong. I don’t even think it would have been wrong to point out to my father that his words were bugging me. Maybe some of my words were bugging him. The problem is our timing. We need to take time to plan our course of action so our actions and our words don’t sneak up on us.
Friend, I implore you today, as a daughter who may not have a chance to say she’s sorry, to please think before you speak. Lead with kindness. Assess the situation and then take time to decide if it’s worth fighting about. If it is, it’ll still be there tomorrow.
I printed off a whole bunch of pictures for my dad yesterday and sent them to the hospital. Pictures of his kids, grandkids and other special people in his life. I hope he gets to hold them in his hands, because he really hates those damn cellphone photos.