It’s easy to look around, see what really needs doing (sorry for any of you not local – that’s a pretty basic central PA idiomatic expression), and then start complaining because “someone” isn’t doing anything. It can be our partner/spouse, our kids, our parents, the school district or the government. It doesn’t matter who. “Someone” should DO something.
We have a decent-sized house that takes constant upkeep with three adults, three cats and nearly two acres of land. There is never a lack of chores and we knew that before we bought the place. We knew that the place would take far more upkeep and elbow grease than either of our small homes or a condo.
What I find, however, is that it’s far easier to see what my partners aren’t doing than what I should be doing. It reminds me of that scripture about taking the rafter out of our own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else. So this past weekend I finally got my office red up (central PA term again = straightened up, “ready up”, get ready) and was so busy I didn’t have time to get in anyone else’s face about their shortcomings. My office is looking better and everyone is speaking to each other – always a good thing!
We do the same things with agencies and authority figures. The person who screams the loudest about how government ought to stay out of his life is often the first person to complain about how slow government aid is in a disaster. We really can’t have it both ways, yet Americans seem to have a knack of doing just that. We pride ourselves on our independence, but then want someone else to do something when it all breaks down.
Ultimately we are the ones who need to guide our lives and make the choice to be in charge of our experience. Eleanor Roosevelt admonished us that no one can make us feel inferior without our consent. Likewise, no one is going to be responsible for our happiness, our good health or our finances except us. We can grow old waiting for that knight in shining armor (or wait for our knight to get up off the couch!), or we can take charge ourselves.
In the meantime, I think I’ll build a fire to greet the guys when they get home from chorus practice. A little kindness goes a long way when you have to drive home 30 minutes in snow.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
As a licensed social worker in clinical practice I’m familiar with the term “anticipatory grief.” As a son who was his father’s caregiver over the past three years, including two years of hospice care, I can appreciate this on a very personal level. Week after week of wondering when my father was going to make his transition took its toll on me physically and emotionally.
Yet none of my worry, concern and anticipation of his passing helped me one bit in dealing with the call that confirmed his death. Just because worry is considered to be socially acceptable or even expected in some circles doesn’t mean it has to be so. Worry doesn’t do anyone much good; it only exacerbates the problem. From a metaphysical standpoint this makes perfect sense: What we focus on increases. Fretting produces more reasons about which to worry. We start “what if-ing” and then doubt, sleepless nights and anxiety descend upon us with all the subtlety of an avalanche.
I recently encountered someone who is planning for trouble for which the person has no basis to expect, other than their own fear. Reports, charts and explanations are all in place not if,but when, “someone” asks them for an accounting. In realizing the similarity of this to anticipatory grief I am calling it “anticipatory conflict.” I’ve no idea whether I’ve coined a new term or not, but I believe the situation bears exploration.
Being prepared for every eventuality can make us appear efficient, professional and wise stewards of our charge. Conversely it could also indicate the presence of doubt in our own abilities, mistrust that God is ever-available, or doubt in the abundance of the universe which is ours to accept. It might also indicate our own underlying suspicion or prejudice of a person whom we feel responsible to supervise.
How better it would be if, instead of planning for disaster, we could be so assured of ourselves and others that we are at peace with our decisions. Then, if the situation does at some point comes up that we must explain our actions or the activities of others to this “expected inquisitor” we can rest in assurance that we do not have to immediately respond. Anyone in authority knows that we have the option with any query to take time to examine the facts. Ask yourself this week, For what anticipated conflict am I preparing…and why?
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,