Summary: Let the anger go to reconcile our relationships
Sometimes my father makes me so mad. Some of the things he says and does just really get me going. It isn’t as bad as it used to be. I guess because we aren’t around each other as much it isn’t as big of a problem. Still, he is very capable of making me very angry. And, he can do it faster than just about anyone else on the planet.
As I said when I was a kid it was much worse than it is today. One of the times I got the angriest I ever got with my father was at Boy Scout summer camp one year. I want you to keep in mind, my father was the scoutmaster. He also said, to most anyone who would listen, he treated me just like all the other boys. It was something I knew to be untrue, but he didn’t see it that way. When we got to camp that year our troop was given a large can, about the size of a three pound can of coffee, full of peanut butter. It was there so we could make sandwiches and that kind of thing. One morning my dad looked into the can of peanut butter and found a spoon with my initials on it. That set him off. He searched me out. I was with my patrol, where I was supposed to be. He dressed me down real good right there in front of all the other kids. Actually, closer to the truth is, he went beseric. That was something I knew he would never do to all the other boys. What my father didn’t know, didn’t bother to ask, and wouldn’t listen when I tried to explain was, while the spoon was mine, I had two sets of eating utensils with me. One of the other boys had forgotten his and I let him borrow my extra set. If he would have asked or listened, I could have shown him that I still had the other set.
It really made me mad that he wouldn’t listen to me. It also made me angry that I had to constantly listen to his song and dance about treating me just like all the other boys. I knew he would have corrected them, but it would have been handled much differently. It wasn’t fair and I knew it. It just wasn’t right.
I know that as I stand here this morning I know that I am the only one in this room whose dad ever did anything to make them mad. I know that has to be the case because today we are celebrating Father’s Day. Would we do that if we were all angry with our dads? I know that isn’t the case. In fact I would be quite willing to say that if we are honest with ourselves and each other, at some point in time almost every gets angry with one of their parents, especially our dads.
As I have reflected on my life I have come to realize that one of the biggest problems that I have had is that I tend to hang onto these kinds of things. That is no where more true than in my relationship with my dad. For years, this incident in particular but others too, arguments over grades, curfews, and one over drugs he thought I was using and wasn’t stick out in my mind as something that framed my relationship with my father for more than twenty years.
What he did made me angry. Sometimes it made me so angry that I didn’t want to be in the same room with him. The more time went along the more quickly he would set me off because I was still angry about something he had done, or that I perceived he had done five, ten, fifteen years or more before.
I joked when I said that I alone had problems with my dad. I know that many people have those same kinds of problems not only with moms and dads, but friends and others. I don’t know what it is about us. I think that we realize that we are far from perfect and yet at the same time we expect more from those around us than we ourselves can give. Then when they fall short of our expectations we react with pain, disappointment, and even anger of our own.
As I have looked at my own situations and listened to that of others I have come to the conclusion that all too many of us hang on to this anger and frustration. In one of his comedy albums Bill Cosby talks about problems with his wife where he said not only was she mad about what he did, she recalled a few things he did in 1965 that weren’t too cool. When we hang on to that old anger we dig it back up and at least at times rather freely dispense it back out once again.