A Few Tips for Living in This World
Outside, the wind whips its way down the porch, a big chime plays in the key of G, and the willow dances. A swarm of gnats blows by in mid-air. A brutal ride.
Our guest walks around the yard snapping photos of birds, trees, the cabin.
She is taking time out from the world to process stressors in her life. (That’s why people come to the cabin. Time with themselves. Time with God.)
The woman slept ten hours last night, apparently the first good night’s sleep she has had in months. God at work. We take no credit. It’s all God.
Rest, good for us. Our minds, bodies, emotions function better when we get rest.
I am reminded of a time when I did not sleep for five nights.
I wanted to give it away, but it belonged to me, so I had to bear it until I could resolve it. Once it was resolved in my head, it was resolved. After it was resolved, I slept.
There was a time when I thought some amount of suffering and/or work could resolve all things. I was younger then, so it is easy to forgive myself for believing that.
I gave up that line of thinking when I was offered the Serenity Prayer, another way of seeing the world, another way of praying for others and for myself.
First verse of the Serenity Prayer, in case you want to know it:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (others), the courage to change the things I can (me), and the wisdom the know the difference (between others and me.)
This simple prayer is like Psalm 23. When I live it, it changes me and my world.
If you come from a dysfunctional family like I did, nothing seems simple, and you actually may enable others’ negative thinking and negative behavior and not be aware of it. In fact, you may believe codependent behavior is loving and helpful. Not true. It does not help. It may briefly feel good, but it is not loving, not helpful. Most psychologists and counselors agree: Codependency harms, is unhealthy, and keeps us stuck in a bad place. Some people stay stuck for years.
Growing is full of temporary stress. Did you hear the word “temporary”?
Once I decided to go for healthy choices, it felt like unfamiliar territory at first. I was certainly a pilgrim walking a different way from many family members, from many acquaintances. It did not feel good. Not at first, but it became as comfortable as an old shoe.
I think the first thing I had to do was break two rules I grew up with:
1. Don’t talk. Don’t think. Don’t feel.
Though that rule was not written down, I inductively “got the message” because I was in trouble every time I broke the unwritten rule. Eventually, I learned. I read the frown or heard critical words, and I got the message.
Now, I realize it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship if I am living within those rules, keeping all those secrets. How can I stay that closed and still be honest/intimate with significant people? And how can I be myself? (So many of us lose ourselves this way.)
2. When a problem (of any sort) came up, I was to assume it belonged to me because it was happening to someone I loved or cared about.
Was I ever wrong. What I had to do was figure out if the problem belonged to me or someone else or to the both of us together. Usually it belonged to someone else, but it might affect me. And still, it belonged to someone else. If I can totally control it, well then, it probably belongs to me. Helpful to know who owns the problem.
Another little thing that helps me: If it is a dime (small) problem, I can fly over it. If it is a hundred-dollar problem (big problem), it has my attention and some part of it may belong to me.
(But everything is NOT a hundred-dollar problem.)
One last thing. I know you did not ask, but here it is.
If the neighbor, mother or grandson is doing the best he/she can do, maybe you can “lower your expectations.” It’s the best he/she can do.
Good enough. Good enough. Good enough.
God bless the willow, God bless the cabin, God bless the guest and the chimes. God bless my husband and my readers.
P. S. You have just had a counseling session. Take what you like and leave the rest. If you know someone needing any of these words, you might want to pass this on by hitting the little square Facebook icon below the photo. Or click Share if you see it on Facebook. That’s not enabling. That’s sharing and caring.
Photo of a journal cover. Artist, unknown. “Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Neibuhr. Photo taken on January 13, 2018.