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Hard-Headed (Mom, Dad, and A Machete)
As I start typing this, it’s been almost exactly 3 years to the minute from the smacks on the head I took in late October of 2015.
#MacheteFreeSince15 Am I Right?! 😉
Three years later, I find myself and the same computer…
Both patched up…
Me with a metal plate, my company-issued Dell with some clear tape (#SameSame)…
Both back in the African night, spending a little more late night time together, catching up on things while most everyone else sleeps.
As I’ve written before, I could’ve died every moment I’ve ever lived, but there’s something more noticeable about those moments 3 years ago that I find myself thinking about more intentionally when late October and early November roll around.
I don’t know how long those musings will lend themselves to blogs, but here I am again, bringing out something that I hope will bring life and light to some of you.
It seems weird to say, but for several reasons I see the attack as one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Such good fruit came out of it, that may have never happened, or at least might have taken a while to occur.
Maybe in the coming years I’ll write about more of them, but this year, I think it’s important to write about one of the most influential things, and something that I imagine is the most relate-able to the most people.
My parents came to join me in the hospital shortly after the machete attack.
They love me so much. They seem to think more of me than I think of me (and I don’t have a low self-esteem problem).
However, on several of those South African days, having them there was maybe the hardest, and definitely the most annoying part of the entire process.
You know how it is…
Hardly anyone could get under your skin like your parents… and hardly anyone could get under their skin… like you!
I know my parents would agree (both as children and as parents).
It turns out… My hard head wasn’t just a physical thing…
Ya see… at the time, I’d essentially been living on my own for 13 years. I’d not had a girlfriend in 4 years, and not had a serious one in 8.
I was NOT used to someone having such strong opinions about their perceptions of my urgency toward my well-being… in my presence… CONSTANTLY.
This served as a good heads up to me of a cost I’d need to count if I ever wanted to get married. (no pun originally intended)
Without this… Myself, and some poor woman who would eventually love me(Lord Willin), would’ve likely been blindsided.
But that’s a hypothetical… here’s the meat. I hope it’s something that can spur deeper understanding between you and your parents, your children, or someone similar.
From my teenage years on (at least), hardly anything could annoy me more than my mom asking me questions about stuff.
I thought…If I wanted her to know, I’d tell her. “Why did she need to know?”
But what I couldn’t fully understand (perhaps because I never took the time to consider it deeply) was why the questions of the woman who loved me more than any woman on the planet agitated me more than nearly anything on the planet.
It was especially perplexing when stacked up against that fact that other people could ask me questions and I’d answer at great length.
How could I be so loving and eager to share with other people that I’d never met, but so irritable and unkind sometimes to the woman who gave me life and was a big part of sustaining it and getting me to a place of thriving?
It felt hypocritical.
It was hypocritical.
It wasn’t fair. And it wasn’t who I was to basically everyone else.
In the days after getting home and having to face my issues instead of running from them, like a lot of us do when we grow up and move away from home…
I realized this…I perceived my mom to have an agenda to all of her questions (and she probably did, but she’d earned it…at least more than I gave her credit for).
I perceived them as an attack on my manhood.
If she had to ask me, did she assume I couldn’t handle life on my own?
If she had to ask me, could she not settle for my answer and let me be a man?
For men especially… feeling respected is HUGE(at least to the flesh).
The irony is, when we don’t feel respected as a man… we often resort to having the impatience and petulance of… a child.
And that was it…
I, ultimately, wasn’t secure enough as a man before that point to handle the way my mom’s love drove her to interact with me.
Thank God I got this time to be able to face this head on.
The transition from parent of a child to a parent of an adult can be as tricky as moving from a child to an adult.
Do you need to face some of your own issues to be able to receive your mom or dad’s love as love and not annoyance?
That doesn’t mean you won’t need to have hard or challenging conversations, but if you haven’t already started… will you be adult enough to engage those conversations with patience and kindness to help them in their transition to treating you like an adult? OR will you keep acting with childish impatience expecting them to carry the full weight of the transition?
(If you need to chew on that… take a second)
Dad and I ended up having to fly home without mom (a sarcastic thanks to the Johannesburg Delta Air Lines gate agents).
I had some slightly different issues with, which we got to discuss in our time alone, (which I’m surrrrre those Delta gate agents must’ve had in mind…sorry for doubting you Delta)
That time was super fruitful.
As we left the hospital at home (after my dad and I had gotten into another argument), I expressed to him that I felt like I’d been handling a lot… “handling my insurance, managing your and mom’s flights, managing my flights, helping you and mom with travel around South Africa, all while recovering from brain surgery.”
He said something like… “Yeah, me and your mom were saying how impressive it’s been how you’ve handled all this.”
To which I responded… “Well, that’s news to me, because all I feel like I’ve heard for two weeks is what you thought I could be doing better.”
And he said something like, “Yeahhhhh… I could see how that would be annoying.”
And went on to point out something that made a whole heck of a lot of sense… basically between what he pointed out and what I added to it is…
When you care about a kid(or anyone really from a position of leadership or authority), it’s easy to think you only need to point out the things it seem like they’re missing, the other things don’t need to be fixed and they pretty much must know what they are doing right so they don’t need to be told.
It’s a classic coach/fixer approach. “Let me help you know how to do it better(at least as far as I understand it)”
In that… I think my dad realized something about himself… AND… I realized that I basically tended to do the exact same thing to men that I was leading.
Shoooooooooooot. I was like my dad. It wasn’t awful. It was understandable.
His shortcoming was so understandable to me, because I was prone to the same thing.
It’s amazing what a clear and calm conversation is capable of paving the way for. (not to mention the deeper more candid conversations this has paved the way for since then) .
I have deeper empathy for my dad now. And I have another caution for myself as I try to lead and guide the people I care about.
Something that might not have come to my attention for at least another decade had some dudes not tried to smash my head in. #TheLordWorksInMysteriousWaysIndeed
Anyway… I don’t know your situation. But would you ask the Lord if you need to have some conversations with your mom or dad, like an adult…to seek understanding and to provide some as well?
PS… I sent this to my parents to read and clear for me to send out since it involves them and this is what they sent back…
“Your dad said he saw a couple of things you did wrong.”
“Ha just kidding.”
“We’re good with it, but I saw a spelling mistake or two.”
“So proofread. haha”
PPS… If you have no idea what machete attack I’m talking about and you have the longest attention span of anyone alive in 2018… you can read more here … and then… here.
Matt…your parents have loved you and worried about you on a constant. Your revelations are wonderful and I know your parents are proud. I’m proud you thought of them and I know they cried while reading your words. Now get married, have some children for your mom, and be that good son.
Thanks Beth! Also… I’ve never thought of getting married. Thank you for the idea haha.
Matt, what great insight and wisdom! Thank you so much for sharing this! Now on to read about the attack….. yikes!
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