I'll summarize the core of the story here - more for my memory than anything.
On Wednesday Night of this past week I sat downstairs in our church talking with a man who was celebrating his 64th Birthday on that day.
My daughter was upstairs with other teens. She was late in coming downstairs, though I texted her to come downstairs so *I* could go home on numerous occasions.
As I waited for my daughter - and got more and more angry - I heard more and more of my dear friends story. He was living in a tent on public land a few blocks from our church - and was wondering if he could have the mattress located in the hall that someone else had donated. (Mind you, btw, the heat in Oklahoma at this time of year is nearly never below 80 degrees Fahrenheit - and up to and above 100 degrees in the daytime hours.)
Though my disappointment with my daughter grew as she did not come down - it also began to change as I learned about my new friend. He shared his birthday with his daughter - but she has only known that he is her father for about 5 months. She lives approximatley 5 hours away in Austin, TX and he's only spent a few hours with her in her entire life of some 20 years. The story is complicated - but it essentially involves the fact that my new friend has spent, as he said, more than half of his life in prison.
On his birthday he was not with his daughter - and he has never celebrated a single birthday with his daughter in her 20+ years.
I could moralize or judge how/why he has been "locked up" and not been with family. But, as I was prone to get more and more mad *that night* about my daughter being late for *my* desire to get home - listening to the story of my friend softened my intentions for my daughter that evening - and quite frankly, changed me forever.
There is no doubt I'll take more time to be more patient with all of my kids and my wife in the future as I remember and celebrate the fact that we get to be together(!!) - even if sometimes we make each other late!