To Love Someone Long-term…

“To love someone long-term is to attend a thousand funerals of the people they used to be.

The people they’re too exhausted to be any longer. The people they don’t recognize inside themselves anymore. The people they grew out of, the people they never ended up growing into. We so badly want the people we love to get their spark back when it burns out; to become speedily found when they are lost. But it’s not our job to hold anyone accountable to the people they used to be.

It’s our job to travel with them between each version and to honor what emerges along the way. Sometimes it will be an even more luminescent flame. Sometimes it will be a flicker that disappears and temporarily floods the room with a perfect and necessary darkness.”
– Heidi Priebe

This quote on my Facebook page resonated with so many friends that I offer it to my gentle readers. I was a bit surprised at the response as it’s not an easy read. What it’s saying of course is that we ain’t the people we were 10, 20, 30 years ago, or even last month. I’ve said some silly things in my time. I can hardly believe just how bigoted and arrogant I was in my earlier years. Fortunately I kept most of my wilder beliefs under wraps and we didn’t have social media in those days so I wasn’t tempted to lay into anyone who had ideas that differed from mine.

The problem we have today is that too many people are being judged and punished for things they said in an earlier life. Ollie Robinson was being stupid when he wrote those things 10 years ago when he was a teenage. Despite his profuse apology he’s been sacked from an England cricket team that desperately needs him and will be required to undergo unconscious bias training amongst other things before he can be allowed back. But aren’t all teenagers generally pretty stupid; they think they know everything.

A beloved granddaughter recently passed her test first time; she couldn’t wait to go out and drive on her own. She proceeded to have 2 bumps before she got out of the driveway.

Collen O’grady explains why: “As a parents of a teen, you try to help your son or daughter make good decisions.  You provide guidance. You give your child facts.  You explain the pros and cons. You talk to other parents. You think about how you felt when you were a teen, and the consequences you suffered when you made poor decisions. You think you have set your teenager up for success.

But then you find out that your teen has taken none of your advice and has done exactly what they wanted to all along!  Mums and dads, while this is frustrating and upsetting, there is a reason teens behave this way.  A significant part of your teenager’s brain, the prefrontal cortex, is undeveloped.

In fact, the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until age 25! This is why, even after you explain the dangers and consequences, your teen may still make poor choices.  Her prefrontal cortex isn’t helping her, and so she all too often makes impulsive, “Woo-hoo, this sounds like fun,” decisions.

What is the Prefrontal Cortex? It’s typically referred to as the “CEO of the brain.”  Another way to think about it is like the brakes on a car.  The thing with teens is that they get the gas (the impulses), but they have a faulty brake system (an undeveloped prefrontal cortex).

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for: Planning Ahead, managing emotions, delaying responses, empathy, self awareness and conscience, and not seeing the big picture. And cause and effect.

This is why Ollie shot his mouth off when he was a teenager. I’m sure he hates the person he was 10 years ago.

We must allow people to learn and develop and move on. I’m so glad my wife doesn’t hold every silly stupid thing I’ve said against me.

A prayer to close:

God who has forgiven us of so much, soften our hearts, heal us from the hurts and wounds that so often cause us to judge and condemn those around us who get things wrong. Help us to graciously with patience accept those who see things differently from us.

Help us to learn how to forgive and enter into your peace.

5 thoughts on “To Love Someone Long-term…

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  1. Interestingly I understand that the pre frontal cortex developed earlier in the female brain than the male. Which something we can sometimes see in behaviour and which motor insurers had discovered years ago

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  2. This article resonates so deeply with me. I too shudder at some of my thinking when i was younger (with everything being so black and white – and i am not talking people’s colour here btw). Life Experience has shaped me and changed me, and in many areas there is just a shadow of the person i once was. But i am a wiser, more empathic person than i was back then (i hope). We are all on a journey and that changes us and how we think – we cannot judge someone on what they did or said when they were younger in the same way as when in their 30’s, 40’s & 50’s. Great post – thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. Thankyou Paula, for these thoughts. You’re absolutely right; we’re all on a journey and have done and said things we wish we hadn’t. Hopefully we’re learning to be kinder and gentler as we travel on. Thanks again.

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  3. Deeply encouraging and full of retrospective insight Daryl. So many people, parents and children, should be well able to put their hands up to this.

    Every blessing,

    Richard and Rachel.

    >

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