Friday, December 14, 2007

P4E.052 Sticks and Stones

Question: Why did anyone ever come up with the rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?"
Answer: Because they do.

A basic tenet of psychology is that others can't make you feel. Here's a quote from Jason E. Johns, a "personal success coach," that sums up the psychology: "Believe it or not, each of you are in control of yourself and how you feel. You can choose to feel anyway you want. Right now, you could choose to feel happy; or I am sure you could choose to feel sad. Just by thinking about it, you could change how you feel." But, the fact is that this psychology had to arise as a rebuttal to the fact that others can, in fact, affect my feelings.

Recently, I've personally felt, or have witnessed others feel: unappreciated, unimportant, unintroduced, unacknowledged, small, insignificant, inferior and rejected. I think it's important to acknowledge that these feelings are real, not to deny them or that others may have made me feel them. It's important because I'm looking at the flip side of the coin; that I have the capacity to make others feel these same things. It's important to dwell on the feelings to see and feel how they feel. These particular feelings don't feel so good.

As a Believer, I'll take any chance I can to connect with Christ. One of the ways that I've been taught to connect with Him is to evaluate my feelings and ask myself he question, "Did Christ ever feel these same feelings?" I remember one particular event in Scripture where Christ healed ten lepers and only one returned to thank Him. His questions ring in my ears, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine--where are they?" It certainly must have made Him feel unappreciated. It's important to me that I feel what He felt and He felt what I feel. Over 2,000 years and the emotion, the feeling is the same one.

Another question that I ask myself, in the pursuit of Christlikeness, is "Have I made others feel this way (especially the one closest to me, my wife)?" The Holidays are fraught with the danger of being insensitive. One Thanksgiving not so long ago (I tell you this story to my shame) I gathered the family around in a circle for a pre-Thanksgiving feast prayer in which I completely neglected to give thanks for my wife's herculean effort to make the holiday a great one. She had cleaned, and decorated, made phone calls and invitations, made calligraphied name tags to designate where people would sit and cooked a gigantic feast (without much help from me). Well sure, she could have said to herself, "I am in control of myself and how I feel. I can chose to feel anyway I want..." But the fact is, I made her feel unappreciated, unimportant, unintroduced, unacknowledged, small, insignificant, inferior and rejected. She had every right to expect a very different response from the one who vowed to "honor and cherish" her.

Knowing what I know now, I am so sorry for this. It was very wrong of me. I know now how awful it feels to feel these feelings. How troubled I am that I can be the cause of these feelings in others, especially my wonderful wife. How different I want to be in the present and the future! God help me and strengthen me in this commitment.

Take care of yourself (and other's feelings!)
Merry Christmas
Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All Men (and Women)

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