Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's Inside

One of the books I just read, Light in the Wilderness, by M. Catherine Thomas, has given me an abundance of insight to ponder over the last week. I kept my red pencil poised and ready each time I was able to steal a few minutes to sit and read. There were so many wow moments, moments of enlightenment, and often I would have this desire to share what I'd just read. One such insight became our Family Home Evening lesson last night.

I handed Aiden an orange and an empty glass, and I asked him to squeeze me some grape juice. He just looked at me. Dylan piped up, "Um, isn't that an orange?" Yes, yes, so no grape juice? Fine then. I handed Lyndsay an apple and asked her for some orange juice. Of course, she referred me to Aiden.

The message was, we can only give to others what's inside of us. The way we respond to others reflects what we have developed within ourselves. An orange can only give orange juice, an apple, apple juice.

Thomas quotes Wayne Dyer, "Regardless of how another person interacts with you, you can give away only what you have inside to give. Just like the proverbial orange, when you squeeze it, you get what is inside--it has nothing to do with who does the squeezing, or the circumstances surrounding the squeeze. What comes out is what is inside. . . . If you respond to hate with hate, or anger with anger, it is not because of what was directed your way; it is because that is what is inside of you. You can't give hate if you have only love inside, no matter how much squeezing comes your way."

I love the power this truth gives me. If, then, I wish to know the state of my being, I can evaluate what it is I am giving out to others. This gives us an incredible amount of insight into ourselves, and control over our lives, something that appeals to everyone. The truth is, we can never control what another person will say or do, or how they will treat us. We can't always determine our circumstances, either. We can certainly influence those things, but the only person we have control over, is ourselves.

I wanted my children to think about this because so often we get into the game of, "Well, he did such-and-such," or, "She makes me so mad!" or, "If he wasn't such a jerk. . ." It is a common condition to blame our reactions and feelings on people and circumstances, but if one can only give out what one has inside, then it really doesn't matter if someone else has hate or anger. What matters is what you have inside. And you can know, by what comes out of you! An instant state-of-being barometer!

People will say, "Well, I can't help how I feel." That, I told my children, is a lie. How you feel is actually one of the things you can help! Others will blame, "Well he made me so mad!" Another lie. Pure deception, and the important reason to know that is because those lies take away our power! They leave us as a flailing victim, tossed and battered by circumstance, and that is not what any of us are.

Dylan made the comment that we can react differently with different people and in various ways at different times throughout a single day. True! So we better be on guard! What glorious feedback we have the opportunity to glean about ourselves each day and in each relationship!

We talked about what we do if we realize we're giving out hate, anger, meanness, or accusation. We decided that Christ is the source of all love, and we can't be close to Christ and filled with anything unkind. What a reliable spirit check, then! If we are struggling with hate or anger, we must be too far from Christ, and we know what we can do to draw closer to Him. We'll know when we make it back to His side when love starts to pour out of us, especially when something less favorable is coming our way.

I have been paying close attention. I have seen the miracle of love coming out of me, from a calm and contented heart, even in the face of hostility and anger. I have wondered at it, and now I understand and am so grateful. I have also felt the blackness of returning anger with anger, hate with hate. I prefer the love. And because I now have to accept accountability for that love, I have a new outlook on my dealings with all of my relationships and circumstances.

I hope my children do too. They deserve to feel powerful, in an authentic way.


Stephanie Cozzens said...

I loved this! I will be thinking about what I have inside for a long time.

My dad's been trying to get me to read "Light in the Wilderness" for months. Of course it takes somebody else saying it's great to get me to do it.

Crystal Collier said...

I totally going to steal this idea for FHE. Thanks!

Misty said...

look!!! your blog didn't lock up on me today! I don't know why...

This was fantastic! REALLY REALLY GOOD!!!

Andrea said...

I never thought of it this way before. Thanks. I wonder if my little kids will get that analogy. They love to blame everyone else and that needs to be stopped now. Makes me think. Thanks.

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for this. Perfect timing.

Luisa Perkins said...

Excellent idea. I'm probably stealing this for FHE tonight.