My wise friend Jaime once told me the story of a young woman with a suitor who loved her very much. The suitor came to her door clutching a bouquet of daisies to give her. "Where are my roses?" she demanded. "I want roses." Her suitor turned and went away.
The next week he was back on her doorstep with another bunch of daisies. Upon seeing the flowers in his hand, the young woman said, "Where are my roses? I want roses." Again the suitor turned and went away.
The following week the same thing happened. The suitor showed up at his true love's door with a bunch of daisies. The young woman said, "Where are my roses? I want roses." And so again he left.
This went on for several more weeks, until finally one week, the suitor didn't come. And he never came to her door again.
Recognizing Love Every Time It Shows Up
Jaime explained to me that people love us in their own ways — but sometimes we don't recognize their love because it doesn't show up the way we think it should. Someone offers us daisies, but we keep insisting on roses. After a while, the person who loves us may stop showing up at all if we fail to recognize his love in the way he expresses it.
This parable isn't just for lovers — it's for anyone who wants to love and be loved. It's true of friends; it's true of siblings; it's true of parents and children.
My Parents Don't Love Me...How I Want Them To!
I spent many years being angry and resentful with my parents — especially my dad — for the way they "didn't love me." Their structure and discipline felt cold and harsh. I wanted parents who doted on me. Their perfectionism made them seem impossible to please, though I tried mightily. I wanted parents who thought that everything I did was wonderful. Their carefulness with money felt unloving to me. I wanted parents who were generous to a fault. My parents kept giving me daisies and I kept looking for roses.
I am embarrassed to admit that it took me many, many years to recognize the daisies for what they were — love. My parents loved me very much — and still do. It's just that their idea of how to be responsible parents was very different from what I had in mind. I wanted to be Daddy's little princess, but instead I felt like Cinderella being forced to do dirty chores, like cleaning the bathroom, washing dinner dishes, and babysitting my grubby brother.
My father was careful with money because he was a child of the Depression and he knew what it was like not to have enough food. He watched expenses like a hawk because he wanted to make sure that his children would never go hungry. He saved as much money as he possibly could, in case he died young — his children would not be farmed out to cousins, as he had been when his father died young.
A Hard Kind of Love is Still Love
In short, my father had learned a hard kind of love — getting bounced around from family to family, to whoever could afford to feed him. He knew that children need to be taught important lessons right from the get-go, because life is harsh and you never know if the kids might be forced to fend for themselves. Dad was a military man who fought in three wars — so there was a very real chance that his career might make his wife a widow and his children orphans.
I am very fortunate that my parents are both still alive. And I'm fortunate that my friend Jaime taught me how to recognize the daisies for what they were — love in the only way my folks knew how to show it.
Getting Past the Resentments
Most of all, I'm fortunate to have found forgiveness in my heart — forgiveness for all the ways I was hurt by my parents, and forgiveness for myself for judging them so harshly for so long. I lost a lot of quality time with my family because I couldn't get past my resentments about the way they raised me.
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I know countless people who are still nursing deep resentments toward their parents and carrying around mountains of emotional baggage from childhood. My heart goes out to them because I know how much they are still suffering — I was once one of them.
I am grateful that, through the grace of spiritual teachings and the help of some very wise friends, I was finally able to wake up and smell the daisies.
All the years you have waited for them to "make it up to you" and all the energy you expended trying to make them change (or make them pay) kept the old wounds from healing and gave pain from the past free rein to shape and even damage your life. And still they may not have changed. Nothing you have done has made them change. Indeed, they may never change.
Inner peace is found by changing yourself, not the people who hurt you. And you change yourself for yourself — for the joy, serenity, peace of mind, understanding, compassion, laughter, and bright future that you get.
-- Rev. Lewis B. Smedes, Reformed Church minister, author, and theologian
Blame your parents for the way you are... blame yourself if you stay that way. -- Mom
This excerpt was reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing. ©2011. www.redwheelweiser.com
If God Is Your Co-Pilot, Switch Seats: Miracles Happen When You Let Go!
by BJ Gallagher.
This is a spiritual scrapbook of stories, poems, and words of inspiration about the gifts of spiritual surrender. BJ Gallagher mixes her own personal stories and insights with inspirational quotes from a wide variety of spiritual teachers to show how surrendering our wills to a Higher Power can open us up to the miraculous. This beautifully packaged gift book features words of wisdom from Norman Vincent Peale, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sam Ervin, Rumi, Martin Buber, Rachel Naomi Remen, Henry Nouwen, and many others.
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About the Author
BJ Gallagher is an inspirational author, speaker, and seminar leader. She is the author of Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Other Women, and A Peacock in the Land of Penguins. BJ conducts seminars and delivers keynotes at conferences and professional meetings across the country. She is also a blogger for the huffingtonpost.com and appears regularly on radio and television. Visit her website at www.bjgallagher.com/
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