Thursday, July 17, 2014
Thoughtful About . . . Right and Wrong
There is absolute Right. There is absolute Wrong.
I believe this, absolutely.
There are things we should never, ever do, and things we always should. There is sin. There are consequences. There is righteousness.
Then there's the gray. Sometimes it blurs up against the edges of Right and Wrong, but most of its existence lies spanning the fuzzy gap in between. The gray doesn't deal with sin, just with...life. With our own decisions. Our relationships. Our countless day-to-day, minute-to-minute being.
I shouldn't have changed my cat's food--now she has a UTI. I shouldn't have yelled at my kids before I realized what the problem was. I should do the dishes. I should make that phone call.
Things, good and bad, but not Right and Wrong.
Years ago, when Rowyn was nearing a year old and still waking up every couple hours through the night, I was nearing wits' end. I was exhausted, sleep deprived, and had no energy left. I felt snappish and cranky through much of the day. There were times when the constant little hands grabbing at me made me want just five minutes without being touched. I was burned out. And in my mind, someone should have seen it and helped me. My husband should have gotten up more with the kids. He should have given me a morning now and then to sleep in. A grandmother should have seen how I struggled and volunteered to take the kids for an hour--without me asking.
My head was full of should-haves and should-not-haves. And eventually, I accused. I don't honestly remember how the argument started, but it was linked somehow or another to my exhaustion. To my frustration with no one helping. With my total and complete conviction that I was right to want what I wanted, and the rest of the world was wrong not to give it to me.
My husband disagreed, LOL.
I don't remember what he said, or what I said in response. I just remember seeking solitude in the night-darkened living room and deciding I would pray. Desperate for peace, I started out kneeling by the chair and ended up stretched across the floor, with my face to the rug. I cried--rare for me. And I begged God to show him, them, anyone. To show them where they were wrong.
That's when the whisper came, in the recessed of my being. The one that said, And what about where you're wrong?
I went still. The tears slowed. My breath eased out. And that's when the epiphany came. That in much of life, it doesn't matter who's right-er or wrong-er. It doesn't matter which side of the argument is most compelling.
What matters is that I cannot make another person's decisions. God does not choose to make another person's decisions. They are free to do what they will. They are free to be who they are. I can't change it.
All I can change is me. My reactions. My responses. My heart.
My heart wasn't pretty at that point in time. It was tired and stressed and felt so alone in my exhaustion. But God showed me that night that He was there. That my family was there. That just because no one was doing what I thought they should, it didn't mean they weren't doing what they needed to. They had their own reasons, their own frustrations, their own exhaustions.
I could choose to be resentful--or I could choose to be thankful.
I made a conscious decision that night to choose gratitude. To choose not to be resentful when I didn't get what I thought I should. I chose to find peace in the quiet mornings with my ever-wakeful little guy. I chose to find joy in granting my night-owl hubby those morning hours to rest before a stressful day at work. I chose to do what I could in where I was rather than always wishing for something more, or less, or different.
I chose surrender.
There are so many days when I still think of that shadowed living room floor and the realizations that filtered in that night. So many days when I choose not to argue because I know it's not worth it. That even if I think my opinions the better ones, that doesn't mean I'm Right. It doesn't mean the other party is Wrong.
I don't have to be the victor in the argument. Most times, I don't even have to argue. I just have to stop. Take a breath. Ignore the glaring, blaring insistence inside that says BUT I'M RIGHT! and ask, "But where am I wrong? Where am I hurting them by insisting? What will I actually lose if I put aside my pride and stop arguing?"
The answer is usually "nothing." Maybe a bit of comfort now and them, and a sliver of that pride--but I have more than enough of that to sustain me, LOL.
But what I stand to gain...that's something different altogether. I'm not a pushover, but I'm often silent in a conflict--because I'd rather not fight than hurt someone I love. My husband often pushes me to talk through things when I'd rather not--because he knows relationships stall in silence. God often whispers in those recesses when I'm being stubborn--because He knows that there are things that matter a whole lot more than clinging to my own determination.
I'm not perfect. I'm still tired sometimes. Still stressed, still exhausted. I still have occasional moments where I just want a bubble around me for an hour or two, with no demands on my person to feed someone or clothe someone or teach someone or even talk to someone.
But never, since that night, have I ever felt that despair again. Because I let go of a stumbling block when I said, "You're right, God. Please, show me where I'm wrong."
I never like the answers when I ask that question. But oh, how I cherish the results.
photo credit: gato-gato-gato via photopin