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Not many elements in our life are so fully in our control as how we choose to treat other people.” Anonymous

We all want to be in control of our lives, and none of us truly is. Sure, we make daily decisions to go to work, to do the dishes, to read the paper. But those things aren’t our life; they are just the pieces that comprise the patchwork of our days. And half the time, they don’t get done in the order on our lists anyhow. Keep track, for a while, of the days when everything on your list went according to plan. No interruptions, no weather related changes or illness, no cancellation of a meeting. Chances are you can count them on one hand.

Sometimes the deviations from plan A are nice surprises, but even when that happens, you end up feeling behind on all the things that got put on hold. More days than not, I feel like the kid on one of those old fashioned merry go rounds we had on playgrounds. Someone else is doing the pushing and I’m just hanging on for dear life, hoping not to land in the gravel with a skinned knee or bump on the head. So amid the bustle and feeling of inadequacy, I tend not to be very aware of other people and their feelings and needs.

My spouse would be the first to tell you I’m a control freak. I tell him he’s lucky he didn’t know me when I really believed I had some control over situations and people. Nowadays, I relapse occasionally into the mode of planning outcomes, having imaginary conversations in my head so as to bring about a desired agenda, but most of the time, I’m realistic enough to remember the above quote. The exception occurs when I’m overwhelmed and unconcerned with anything except getting through the moment.

Do you remember your granny telling you that we catch more flies with honey than vinegar? What she really meant is that we have some control over our relationships and situations, only if we treat others with compassion and respect, no matter whether we agree with their choices or not. A friend of mine has a favorite prayer that seems to work wonders in tense situations.

Bless them; change me.” Don’t you wonder how our families, communities, even the world, would be different if we all prayed that daily?

Meet me here next week, and meanwhile do your best to be a blessing rather than a bother. Somebody might like it.

 

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