Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Finding You Can Change, Learning You Were Wrong

A man among men.
See also - "exemplar"
Bittersweet and strangeFinding you can changeLearning you were wrong

Perhaps the most heroic character in the whole, unlikely Chely Wright narrative is her dad.
Chely's autobiography Like Me reveals her dad as a man  of unvarnished authenticity, genuinely determined to be a good parent to his adult daughter. The man we meet in the movie Wish Me Away confirms this. He is endearingly direct and unembellished--the highs and the lows, his mistakes and his joys. It's all there. 
His generation of men is not known for being introspective, and certainly not known for seeking personal growth and self-actualization.  My dad is of the same generation, and considers it a weakness for men to admit they are wrong or even discuss their feelings. Personal growth is considered a nuisance that people talk about when they want to show off.
And yet somewhere along the line, Chely's dad learned he was wrong. Perhaps even more astonishing, he found that he could change--and so he did. This rare commodity of character is one that I admire. Deeply.
In a sense, he represents all those country music fans who were appalled when Chely came out in 2010. He had to rethink certain presuppositions and distinguish between simple biases and studied convictions. 
He walked a path that we are asking many, many members of his generation to walk right now.  And I imagine the song is right--I imagine it does feel "bittersweet and strange." *
I would love for him to publish somewhere--in some magazine that my dad would read, like Reader's Digest or AARP or Midwest Living--what this path was like for him to travel. He could provide perspective on the change process: what is hard about it, what is easy, what to expect. 
For example:
  • Did he feel passionate about changing? Or just willing? 
  • Who were his role models? Who demonstrated for him that personal growth takes courage and is worth pursuing?
  • Most change is three steps forward, two steps back--was this true of him? Would he care to share any examples?
  • Some stories from Chely's childhood reflect pretty harsh parenting methods. How did he move past those, and ultimately reconnect with his children?
  • What role has his faith played in this whole journey? 
One memorable afternoon on Oprah, he gave great advice to parents facing his situation. That little bit of wisdom resonated with many people. 

I smile to think of all the others--thousands, probably--who would be so greatly helped by hearing of his experience. 

Imagine, all those families, no longer estranged. Holidays redeemed and spent together. 

Hearts healed. 

Hugs all around.