Posted in Explaining the Strange Behavior, parenting, Philosophy, Religion

Lord, I Hope This Day is Good. So I’m going to make it good.

I introduced Thor to the music of Don Williams recently, and said something about it to Mom in front of him.  Thor nodded and said, “Yes.  And he has this song where he says ‘God, make my day good.'”  (If it has God in it, Thor is all over it.  He has been assimilated by Larry the Cucumber.)  The song is actually, “Lord, I hope this day is good.”

I was thinking about that this morning. 

Listen, last week was ROTTEN!  Car trouble with both cars (fixed, thankfully), landed gentry trouble (that’s going to take some time and money to repair, but that’s what I get for having made slumlord jokes), and assorted semi-serious issues combined to make me feel like wallowing.  And I did wallow.  But you know what wallowing gets you?  Dirty.

This morning, I was humming Don Williams.  I stopped to think about the lyrics of the song.  “Lord, I hope this day is good.  I’m feeling tired and misunderstood.  I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should.  But Lord I hope this day is good.”

I’m not the kind of girl who waits for things to happen.  I am impatient.  I’m not wishin’, and hopin’, and prayin’.  I’m doing.  I’m going.  I’m getting.  If it is important to me, I am on the move.  This does not always work to my favor because every good hunter knows that there is a time to lie in wait and a time to go crashing through the underbrush, but it’s who I am.  I do.  I go.  I get. 

I don’t expect God (or anyone else) to give me a good day.  I expect that I have been given all the tools with which to command my destiny, and it is up to me to use them.  When I feel tired and misunderstood, it is up to me to put it to bed (withholding sleep is a way that I punish myself) and explain the misunderstanding.  When I know I should be thankful, you better believe I am thankful.  That’s probably the one thing I have down pat.  Gratitude.

I will tell you that at the bottom of my heart, I will always be able to be thankful for what I have had.  Even if the day comes when I have nothing at all, I will always have what has been, and I have had such love and goodness in my life to date, that I can always be thankful for that.  Even the smallest spark makes a light in darkness, and sometimes that’s the best you can do.

I realized that I haven’t been on top of making sure Thor understands that happiness is his choice and his decision.  I want him to understand that his attitude is his to command, and his temper does not have to be a reaction to the world.  I never want him to wait for someone, or something else to make his day good.  So, when we got in the car this morning, I asked him, “What are we going to do to make this day good?”

He wasn’t sure, so I told him what I was going to do.

“I am going to find something good to say about everyone,” I told him.  “I am going to tell people nice things.  If I think someone looks nice, I will tell them.  If I think they do a good job, I will tell them.”

He smiled and intoned, because it was an imitation of some vegetable he’s been watching, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  That’s Proverbs.”

Good old Proverbs.  Proverbs and Romans are my stomping grounds.  Another Proverb says that you should not only get wisdom, but that you must have understanding of that wisdom.  Knowing the square root of pi doesn’t mean you know how to apply it to anything useful, and what good is knowing 1.772453850905516027298167483314 if you don’t know what it means, or how to get there? 

So, I said to Thor, “That is the truth.”  And I asked him, “How are you going to use that?”

He still wasn’t sure, so I offered some understanding of the wisdom.  “You can use your words to make people feel good, and seeing that you have made someone happy will make you happy. 

“How about you tell one of your teachers thank you for taking such good care of you?  And, how about you tell one of your friends what you like about him?  And, if you think someone is good at a game, why don’t you say so?  Then, you’ll make someone else’s day good, and that will help make your day good.”

He liked that.  I like that.

I’m not telling you I am always on top of this.  I’m telling you that I let life get to me last week, and I ignored a lot of opportunities to turn my attitude around because it felt better (or at least easier) to wallow.  But I have it back on track this week.  I started with apologizing to someone for an overreaction I had.  As I explained to Thor, “Sometimes, you realize you were wrong a few days later.  You still have to bite that bullet and go say so.”

Summing up:

The goodness of my day=my responsibility


Posted in Howling Sea Lane, Religion

Hey Jealousy

There is nothing in the world wrong with observing what someone else has and thinking to yourself, “Man, I sure wish I had some of that.” If necessity is the mother of invention, then observational jealousy is it’s step-mother. “Ug have fire outside cave. I want! I find way to make fire inside cave! I make chimney!” Or something. (Now I want to draw cartoons to go along with this blog. I’m iced in. I’ve got the time.)

There is everything wrong with observing what someone has and thinking, “I should have that instead of him!” Then you end up with something like, “Abel gets attention that I should be getting! I know, if I kill him, then they will HAVE to give me all the attention. Hey, Abel, come help me with this thing over here…”

The book of Proverbs is filled with warnings against envy. The two that have always stuck out to me are 14:30, A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones, and 24:1, Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company.

Most of the time, I can head envy off at the pass. Most of the time I can honestly look at what people have and say, “I’m very happy for you.” I was raised to strive for my own happiness, and to be glad when other achieved their own. My mother didn’t put up with petty jealousy. If SoandSo had a fantastic Somethingorother and I was whining about me deserving it more than she, my mother put a quick stop to that. If I wanted it, I should work for my own, and get off my high horse. I should pay less attention to what SoandSo had and more attention to what it would take for me to achieve the same, and I should also keep in mind, that maybe SoandSo needed that Somethingorother to make up for another emptiness. And, by the way, she would remind me, there are people who would give a right arm to have what I did. I should think of them, too.

I heard Joyce Meyer speak on envy a few times–and I interrupt myself to tell you that, from experience, while I have very, very little good to say about the major television ministries, I have a great respect for Joyce and her teaching, if only because she was the single ministry to fully cooperate when the Senate Finance Committee came calling–and she makes a cutesy, but convincing analogy. She talks about how silly it would be for your eye to be jealous of your hand because your hand gets to wear a beautiful ring. If you put a ring in your eye, you couldn’t see. She says that you might be an “eye” in the grand scheme of things, and envying what a “hand” has will only hamper your ability to live a productive life.

I have posted before about how I mean-girled a classmate into a corner out of jealousy. I wanted the attention of a boy she had managed to snag, fresh from a breakup with another girl I’d been sneering at, and I thought if she was out of the way, I’d have my shot. Of course you know I just ended up looking like a complete horse’s behind, and I carry what is a healthy scar of guilt over my actions to this day.

It is a healthy scar because it keeps me from repeating my past behaviors. When I feel that tightening of envy in my gut, I also feel that scar tightening right along with it. If it had been left on me by an evil wizard, it would have been shaped like a lightening bolt, and you would have seen me rubbing at it and grimacing yesterday, while looking through Facebook.

“Of course she shops at Posh Tots,” I growled, feeling a little sick to my stomach. She didn’t deserve that! I couldn’t shop there! I knew where that money had come from, and that was dirty, dirty money. I was clean as far as all that went, and it wasn’t fair!

I kept flipping through pages, jealous of this or that. Angry that no one had noted my righteousness and… Ugh. It’s just embarrassing what went through my head.

Here’s the thing: If you’re righteous and you know it, clap your hands. See what it gets you? You can’t really feel proud of your righteousness without spoiling it. It’s like adding lemon juice to your milk. Same thing with jealousy. When you focus yourself on envying what someone else has, you can’t enjoy what you’ve got.

No, I can’t afford to shop at Posh Tots, and I am not part of that clique, but you know what I do have? I have an amazing son, who is loved and well dressed, and a group of friends who love me no matter what kind of foolishness I’m up to. It is honestly none of my business what someone else has. My business is about taking care of what I have, and (because I am the ambitious sort) getting to the next level, and working out how to use what I do have for the benefit of people who are less fortunate.

Tell you one thing: It’s a lot easier to just scowl at Paris Hilton, than to acknowledge I’m being a jerk.