You know, it’s funny. Actually, it’s really not. Why are we so quick to respond from our reptile brains and egos? Let me tell you what happened to me the other day. It’s mind boggling how things escalate out of control.
My wife and I headed out early in the morning, to spend the day with our grandkids. It was a hot drive, with two hours dodging 18-wheelers. Then nothing but chaos while we were there, with another long two-hour trip home.
We then tortured ourselves for an hour in a gym without air-conditioning. With the compounded tension of things not going so well, it was no surprise that our edges had been sharpened, and before you knew it the barbs started flying. I said something—I don’t even remember what (this is not uncommon), and she countered sharply. Her retort seemed nonsensical to me.
To ME…as if I’m always the lucid one. So, on and on it went, until we were no longer speaking to each other, and dropping our dumbbells on the floor to let each other know how upset we were.
So, we got home and I created some space for myself with Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. Okay, it’s weird, but in it I came face-to-face with this:
“The disciple must be entirely innocent of anger, because anger is an offence [sic] against both God and his neighbor. Every idle word which we think so little of betrays our lack of respect for our neighbor, and shows that we place ourselves on a pinnacle above him and value our own lives higher than his.”
I don’t know about you, but my days are challenging enough without my creating additional stress for myself, needless and avoidable stress. And it’s the same pattern at the office as it is at home. Would you not agree?
Bonhoeffer continued, “The angry word is a blow struck at our brother, a stab at his heart: it seeks to hit, to hurt and to destroy. A deliberate insult is even worse, for we are then openly disgracing our brother in the eyes of the world, and causing others to despise him.”
You know, we complain about the state of the world. It’s a mess.
Well, we’re the ones causing it! It’s a mess, because I make it all about me! But, when I’m able to get beyond my own self-interest and focus on the interest of others I’m good. And, for the most part, so is the rest of the world. And guess what? I have control over that. I’m not at the mercy of the world. And everyone – and I mean everyone – would be better off: my team, my boss, my peers, my clients, my vendors, my customers – my spouse, and my kids.
St. Thomas Aquinas said that, “Love is willing the good of the other.”
Can you imagine how our days would be if we were intentional—and I mean seriously intentional—about “the good of the other” instead of what we think is for our own “good”?
So, am I alone here?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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