When I wrote Farm Days several years ago, my sisters complained that I got a few details wrong. But it was my perspective. My memories (with some added stories my mom and dad shared).
As I’ve been writing this month, I’m well aware that my perspective might not exactly line up with someone else’s who knew my dad. We all have different memories and perspectives. I hope I’ve reflected reality fairly well.
Perspective changes over time. Mine certainly has. As I’ve grown, added life experiences, traveled to knew places, listened to a variety of people, and solved problems, I’ve learned. I’ve changed, and that alters my perspective of the present, future, as well as the past. Growing up on a farm, I had the perspective of a youngest-of-three-girls perspective. I can (at least try to) see my sisters’ and parents’ perspectives of some of the same situations now. I’ve seen each of them change through the years, too.
My dad changed, too. In my opinion, he was a fairly open guy, but there were definitely some “never” lines in the sand, especially when it came to dating and marriage. But sometimes it’s easier to say “never” when the situation is hypothetical. Once faced with the reality, things change. The same happened with farming. Dad was usually open to trying new things, but he also had a strong old-school streak. There were some advances that when they first came up as possibilities, Dad wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. Sometimes he was right: something wasn’t a good idea. Other times, he tried and accepted the new approach with little complaint.
It might take him a while, but he was willing to change, or at least listen to people’s ideas about change.
We need to not only be willing to change but to let others change, too. I could place a stake at any point along my life’s timeline and claim everything and everyone in that moment is the way it was, is, and will be. I could say, “But you said…” without considering the person might have changed his or her mind. I could point to a mistake or a success and let that define a person despite the years that have passed. I could claim, “That’s just who he or she is,” stunting the possibility of seeing and encouraging someone’s growth.
Changing our perspective (and seeing others change) takes humility, patience, forgiveness, and a lot of grace.