It's easy to get my mom voice and lecture my children about letting go of the little things and taking control of our own reactions. It comes naturally to me to sit my daughter down and remind her that being right isn't the most important thing we can do. When it comes to living what I teach, that's another matter.
I've been slapped by the realization that I have let certain people steal my joy. I has hit with daunting clarity recently at a Bible Study that I have held on to criticisms I have received in the past, in some cases, the distant past, and it has colored the perception I have of myself and my ability to do certain things. I have allowed those negative people and thoughts to define a part of who I am, or, at the very least, of who I think I am. I have let my desire to be right in some instances damage my relationships with certain people. I have done that, no body else.
With new insight comes a new challenge. How do I let go of years of hanging on to my bitterness? How do I truly forgive, down in my heart, where it counts? How do I refuse to let other people define me?
Friends, I honestly don't know, but I'm working on it. Something that has helped me in ways I would never of guessed is to intentionally focus on the good in others. I'm talking, everyone I come into contact with. I try to think of something I admire about that person with every encounter. By seeing something positive in other people, I'm more easily able to see the positive things within myself. By focusing on a person's good quality, I'm less likely to get annoyed by the little things. By trying to enjoy the presence of those I come into contact with, I find it easier to put myself into their shoes, to understand why they may say or do hurtful things. By doing each of these things, I find it easier, in most cases, to voice my opinion without major conflict arising over differences.
My family, with Zach's guidance, has made a mantra of "Love God, Love others, reach out." I remind my children that when we show love to others, especially those who annoy us or hurt us, we are truly showing love to God. It's so hard sometimes, and sometimes it's even harder to love ourselves.
I can not control others. I can only control myself. It's a daily challenge, one that I fail at constantly, but I pray daily to see change. I pray that by through my actions, I am teaching my children what it means to LOVE, and that I someday, I can honestly say that I practice what I preach.
I would love to hear from you on this topic.