From the time I first read it until recently I interpreted it one way. I felt that I could learn so much from the ideas of other people even if I didn't agree with them. I believed that Mr. Clark was saying that our own perspectives are broadened as we encounter people whose beliefs are different from our own. Perhaps as the result of hearing and understanding new opinions our own opinions are changed or modified. But even if our own opinions are not altered and we stand fast in our convictions, we are enriched by the exchange. This was the growth I assumed he spoke of.
The book I mentioned, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, supported this interpretation of the quote. It caused me to realized that the lens through which we view the world is so narrow and fogged by our own ideas, culture, beliefs and education that we don't even know what we aren't seeing. I really can't articulate the ways in which Anne Fadimen brought to my attention my own clouds of bias, assumption, and stereotypes. Although I still fundamentally disagree with some of the principles of Hmong culture and the practices of the healthcare workers in the story, I have grown from reading about them.
Then a couple months ago I discovered a new meaning to the quote aforementioned. I realized that some people's opinions have little or nothing to offer my intellect. Some people make foolish choices that my efforts to understand offer no reward. For example, I observe the selfish choice of someone in my life and become filled with anger. The growth I am going to gain from this individual would not come from hearing their justification for their choice.
The growth that comes from disagreement in this circumstance is the growth that comes when I love someone in spite of their choices and allow my heart to be filled with charity rather than allowing my thoughts to be consumed with anger. This growth has nothing to do with being open-minded or tolerant, but everything to do with being more like Jesus Christ.
The ideas of self-deception from the Arbinger Institute that I mentioned before have helped me with this growth. The idea of treating people as humans and exhibiting charity and compassion unconditionally is most difficult with those who I don't agree with and therefore gives me the most opportunity for cultivation of character.
Even though Father's Day was a little while ago I want to thank my dad for his wisdom in sharing insightful quotes with me. He has a gift for discerning truth and he searches out the sage counsel of thinkers of all varieties.
This race was in support of men's health with special regard to Prostate Cancer Awareness. Since Cameron has a great-grandfather who has endured prostate cancer it was a great opportunity to explain the fundraising aspect of fun runs.
Of course it rained as soon as we started running and stopped as soon as we finished. Cameron did great though, and I tried to explain that if people in front of you are going slower than you are, it is okay to pass them. He looked at me like I was being rude. Oh well, he'll learn.
Unfortunately this isn't the first time I've done this. But it certainly will be the last, as I have vowed to never lay a finger on that grill again.
But what gives? We have a comfortable cushion in the value of our home to absorb such tragedies as this.
Cameron is moderately obsessed with dinosaurs. He walks around the house slightly hunched over, like an Allosaurus with his hands in a three-finger position and "roaring" until his voice gets hoarse. (Which Miriam, incidentally, thinks is hilarious. Someone opening their mouth and growling as loud as possible right in my face is not amusing, but with babies one can never guess what will delight them.)
We found a BBC series called "Walking with Dinosaurs" on Netflix that Cameron has been thoroughly enjoying. It is pretty informative as well. I have ceased to be surprised to hear him use words like "species" and "hypothesis". But once in awhile he gets a little mixed up.
The dinosaur shows and movies he loves to watch talk about predators quite a bit. But somehow he is missing something because all morning he has been chasing Eli around the house calling himself a "creditor".
"Eli, you have to run and hide or the creditors will get you. Roar!"
Well Cam, some people might argue that the two are one in the same.
My sister has this quote on her blog.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
I love staying at home. It suits my lazy tendencies and my inability to be showered and dressed before 9:00am. That is not to say that motherhood is for the lazy, but motherhood and full-time employment must require great stamina. I am blessed and grateful to not be employed full-time.
What I am getting at though, is that although I love the joys of rearing my children, sometimes a good day of work does me good. Today was a good day of work. The great satisfactions that come from my job most often come from the relationships I have with my patients and co-workers. Today though, I left work feeling fulfilled because of three conversations I had.
1. I've noticed a little bird flying around my backyard that I had never seen before. He had a bright yellow chest and he was beautiful. (I say "he" because aren't the males usually the beautiful ones?) Today at work I learned the name of that little bird, the Western Tanager. Apparently these birds are from Colorado and although they are not local to the Boise area, this spring they have been spotted everywhere. I suppose I could have learned this on Google, but learning something from another human being is much more enriching.
2. Suzy is the lady who cleans our office. She is an expert gardener and gives me all kinds of advice and much needed encouragement. Today I felt a huge relief to learn that she has a clover problem in her garden too. And so does Loretta, another co-worker/ fellow gardener. Often even small obstacles in life are best endured when they are shared.
3. Dr. E told me about a place in Emmett that sells un-pasteurized milk. I'd been wondering if there was a place locally that sold raw milk for cheese making. I'll let you know if I get around to cheese making. After Dr. E told me about how delicious this milk is, my patient told me that he can taste "energy" in products that come from "happy" animals. (Free-range animals, ya know the ones I'm so passionate about.) Albeit a little extreme, I thought that was a pretty interesting idea.
I'm curious, do you work? Do you enjoy it? What do you enjoy about it?
He won the award in his class for the best writing. What that doesn't tell you is that he is also the slowest writer, and after the other kids have completed their worksheets he remained at the table laboring over his alphabet. Bless his little perfectionist heart.
Speaking of his little heart, he has his first crush. A cute little girl with freckles and who is the only girl in his preschool who isn't taller than he. I was not prepared for this. He talks about her with that dreamy look in his eye. He recently told Richard "Dad, today at school Macey was wearing a red shirt with sparkles. And it was tight." I'm hoping that this was a reflection of his own obsession with tight clothing (namely his insistance that his pajamas be tight) and not a physical attraction from a chemical reaction in his little five-year-old body.
Lastly, he has developed a searing conscience. Whenever he is caught being naughty he bursts into tears and wails "I am such a bad boy!." I am hoping this isn't the result of a complex he developed from too severe discipline and rather a tactic to avoid discipline altogether by demonstrating excessive guilt. Either way, yesterday I couldn't resist laughing. Each day while Eli takes a nap Cameron has a "rest" on his bed. He has a little clock on his headboard and I tell him where the long hand has to be for him to get up. Yesterday after the period of time passed impossibly too quickly he brought the clock to me. Sure enough, the long hand was at the "3". I was confused for a moment and then it occurred to me that he had discovered how to move the hands of the clock to set the time. I asked him about this and the dramatic confession ensued, tears and all.
Last night I made Richard's favorite dessert. He had to eat it in a hurry because of a church meeting he had to go to. As he walked out the door he commented that he looked forward to a second helping of dessert and an episode of The Commish when he returned. I looked at him askance, and asked if he meant that he wanted me to have that all set up for him. He smiled and said "That would be nice." I made a mental note to do so.
At some point in the next hour I started to doubt whether I was going to be able to execute his wishes. Or if I even wanted to. It might have been during Eli's haircut, or Miriam's bath, or the dinner dishes or while I folded laundry. Then came the moment of truth, the moment of self-deception and my thoughts went like this.
You know, he has some nerve, asking me to make sure everything is ready for him to sit down and relax. What would be nice would be if he would come home and take out the garbage, help with the dishes and serve me a second helping of dessert. He didn't even say thank-you for making his favorite dessert in the first place. Doesn't he realize everything that has to be done during this time of night? Cleaning up the messy kitchen and getting three children ready for bed? He'll be lucky if I even get that far. I'm exhausted, I've been taking care of these kids all day, and now I have to do bedtime routine by myself, again. He should be around for bedtime routine more often. He should tell me to take it easy while he's gone and he'll take care of things when he gets home...
And so on. I'm pretty justified don't you think?
Luckily, having read and somewhat understood the idea of self-betrayal, I recognized it when it showed its ugly face in my heart. I finished my tasks quickly and without further complaint. I didn't quite get things ready the way Richard had imagined, but at least when he returned I was pleasant and not bitter.
I don't tell this story to make myself out to be a Saint. Richard would likely tell you that two out of three times I wouldn't recognize self-deception or else I would ignore it and allow the anger to boil. He has certainly dealt with the bitter Jo. But I tell you because it is a wonderful concept that can heal and help relationships and I want to share.
In a nutshell, self-betrayal is defending our actions when we make the choice not to do what our heart and conscience told us we should. But read the book. And then read it again. It is full of truth and insight.