Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cups, Boxes, and the Steering Wheel

27 Days to a Happy Mom - Day 10

I have three little stories to tell - analogies of the way we live our lives.  All credit goes to Craig Berthold, the wise man who taught me these stories and helped me understand them.  The first is about a cup.

I have a cup.  So do you.  We all like our cups to be full;  I'll ask people to fill it for me.  "Please, just pour a little of the good stuff from your cup into mine," I ask, and people usually do.  I especially like it to be filled by those I love.  "Husband, please fill my cup," and he does.  What a good hubby!  "Mom, please fill my cup.  Oh I like that.  Thank you."  "Child, please fill my cup.  You are such a good helper!"  "Husband, I want more.  Please pour more into my cup.  More.  No, more.  More!"  And I get mad when he doesn't.  And I get jealous if he pours into anyone else's cup.  The thing I have to learn is that my cup is full of holes, and it is my job to fix the holes.  And it is not anyone else's responsibility to fill my cup.  I have to take care of my own cup.

The second analogy is similar.  I have my little box of happiness.  I hold my box of feelings and emotions and sometimes it gets very heavy.  Maybe my husband will help me carry my box.  "Oh, that is much easier, thank you.  In fact, why don't you just carry it by yourself?  You are doing such a great job with my box.  I love you for how well you take care of my box."  But what if he puts it down?  I am upset and feel neglected.  And what if he drops my box?  And what if he smashes it all to pieces?  Then what becomes of my feelings? Then I should pick up all the pieces and find some good glue.  Because I am the guardian of my own box.  Others can assist me to feel happy, but it is my own responsibility.  Likewise, I like to help other people with their boxes of happiness.  But it is not my job to carry my husbands box, or the boxes of my children, my parents, my friends, or anyone else.  They may holler if I put their boxes down.  But it is not my responsibility.  Each of us has to take accountability for our own boxes of emotions.  That way, we can be happier and more able to help (but not hold) others.

The third story is that of a steering wheel.  This is my steering wheel (I have an affinity for German automobiles).  It is how I decide to steer my life.  If I want to go left, or right, or not - I can.  But sometimes there are other people who have their hands on my steering wheel.  They want me to drive differently, or go to other places.  Maybe I want to go there - maybe I don't.  Usually, I don't.  I'm a little contrary that way.  But wherever I go, I 'm not really the one in charge, as long as I have all those other hands on my steering wheel.  I think my kids have their hands on my steering wheel.  My parents.  My husband.  The folks at church.  My neighbors.  The ladies at school, my friends, the media ideals of who I should be.  My late husband is still there, too.

So before I can be in control, I have to peel off all these other fingers.  It is difficult.  Some of them have a death grip!  Some of them are very upset about not driving my car.  Others will try to guilt me into leaving them on.  None of them will like it that I'm not taking orders from them anymore.  If I let them and their "stuff" bother me, then I am, in essence, putting their hands on my steering wheel.  And I don't have to.

But this is good for me.  I am strong and independent.  I get to choose what I do.  When I accept and use my own agency to really make the choices - free of anyone else - in my life, I become more ME.  And less everyone else.

And when I am the most ME I can be, I find that I am better, lighter, happier.  I have the ability to fill my husband's cup, assist my children with their boxes, and drive my car happily down the Autobahn.

Just for today... see if one of these analogies might fit in your life.  And take responsibility for your cup, your box, or your steering wheel.  Because when you do, the amazingly wonderful you that is YOU can love your husband (and everyone else) more than ever!

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