Another lesson in peaceful living (11/09/2005)

Ok, since my daughter called me (having another crisis) again today, it’s time to share another insight into living. This one has to do with tolerance.

There is an old saying – “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” So, to apply that to daily living, start by eliminating this phrase from your vocabulary – “I can’t stand it any longer.” If that were true, you’d already be dead. So just get rid of it. Whatever caused the crisis didn’t kill you, so it’s time to look – yes, actually look, for the lesson in life that you are supposed to learn from this crisis.

Tonight’s crisis for my daughter had to do with a mis-understanding with her mother. Mom had sent her out to the car, to put some things in it, because they were getting ready to go to church. My daughter, at least according to what she told me on the phone, needed to go to the bathroom, and so she had trouble figuring out which key would open the car’s locked door. She went back into the apartment to find that her mom was in the bathroom, and talking on the phone besides.

So, my daughter raised her voice some and said that she needed her mom to take care of the car, because she needed to use the bathroom. Her mom got bent out of shape, accused my daughter of yelling at her, and they took turns pulling each other’s ample amounts of hair. Then her mom went out to the car, got in, and drove off without my daughter.

So, what can we learn from this?

Well, first, don’t try to do anything important when nature is telling you something about your body needs attended to right away. It causes a lot of distraction, and prevents you from being able to focus on the task at hand. Second, and I say this because I know both ladies very well, we need to avoid making assumptions about the other person’s intentions when we don’t like what we think we heard. Patience and a calm inquiry can go a long way. I’m sure that my daughter did not mean to yell – but I’m also sure that it is possible she did yell because of her percieved need to use the bathroom. It’s also possible that she didn’t yell, but her mom took it as yelling simply because she didn’t get the exact outcome she wanted from sending my daughter to the car.

Third – and this may be the most important part of all – KEEP YOUR ATTENTION ON THE GOAL! If the goal is getting ready for church, as in this example, then any display of less than spiritual affection for each other is going to result in a defeat of the goal. Perhaps her mother did still make it to church tonight – but what did she get out of it? Not much, I’d bet.

Why? Because she left home with an unhandled upset, and I’m pretty sure she spent the whole evening sitting in her Bible study, just stewing over what happened between her and her daughter. And being very judgemental while she was at it. Do you remember the parable of the sower? The sower went out to sow his seeds, and some fell on hard ground, some fell among thistles, some fell among rocks, and some fell in fertile ground. Only the ones that fell in fertile ground germinated and grew. The rest was wasted. Attending a Bible study (or any other type of study, for that matter) while our heart (or mind) is hardened prevents us from learning. We must cultivate our hearts and minds into fertile soil if we want to learn the lessons life is putting before us. That applies to both of the ladies (my daughter, who is 18, and her mother – my ex-wife) I’m writing about tonight.

So, if I were able to give them both some advice, I’d simply say this: when you feel your temper getting the best of you, deliberately CHOOSE to stop a moment, and ask yourself if what you are about to do would make God (or whatever higher power you believe in) proud of you. If not, think of something else that would evoke pride from HIM/Her, and choose to do that something else.

Remember, peaceful living begins as hard work. But, with practice, it does get easier.

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