Over the course of the past month I’ve been having an interesting discussion with you, my readers, and myself. It’s been about change, questions, the status quo, and the desire to leave well enough alone. I’m not sure I even know how to do this.
My 9th Great-Grandfather (Roger Williams) was so unhappy with the way things were in Boston, that he left (actually, he was thrown out), and after living in the wilderness for awhile, he founded Providence, Rhode Island. His story is an amazing tale of sacrifice, ostracism, and loneliness.
My 6th Great-Grandfather (John Corbly), on the other side of my family tree, was a pioneer church planter who also paid high dearly for his vision – his family was killed by Native Americans trying to defend their territory in the Ohio Valley.“But beyond this being in my DNA, I have to take a bit of a deeper look…”
My Great-Great Grandfather, loaded up his family and crossed the country in a covered wagon, seeking a better life in Oregon. Three generations lived in the sparse, log cabin on the Oregon Coast. My Dad, seeking better than the poverty he was born into, moved to Portland, raised a family, and twice operated his own business – before finally being smacked down and going to work for the man.
I’ve often mused, and grieved, over the lost passion in my Dad. It’s been hard to watch. He took a salaried job and made many compromises in order to keep it. He did it for my Mom. He did it for his family. But it wasn’t easy for him.
But beyond this being in my DNA, I have to take a bit of a deeper look. Why do I take other people’s inventories? Why do I care if my employer, profession, church, family, government, or neighbors are doing it right? I’m pretty sure I’m NOT doing it right – so why am I focused on them?
The clinical answer is that people who have trouble controlling their own lives, usually seek to control others.
It’s a common understanding that those in the helping professions are often seeking to fix themselves through their work. One of my seminary professors told us that at least half of us were in the seminary for the wrong reasons. Of course I looked at the people sitting around me and picked out those losers right away. I wonder how many people gave me the same label?
So, as I’ve been thinking over the past couple of years, trying to understand the “injustices” I’ve endured, and seeking to regain serenity – some things are beginning to be very clear to me.
A. I do have vision, insight, intuition, and a successful creative streak. Many of my ideas are now common practice, even though they were often rejected when I first introduced them. Some of my ideas are spreading (though I usually wasn’t the sole source of these ideas), and will eventually become quite popular.
B. I do have courage and I’m not afraid to speak up against injustice, hypocrisy, and oppression. This courage is good – and our country, Christianity, and many great social and industrial reforms were instituted by courageous people.
The Serenity Prayer teaches me to accept the things I cannot change (apparently I could use more discernment in this arena).
The Serenity Prayer teaches me to have courage to change the things I can (Some have said that heroic courage is just another way of describing blind stupidity).
The Serenity Prayer tells me I need to pray for wisdom, so I may understand the difference between the things I can change, and the things I can’t.
I realize now, at least in this point in time, I need to pray more and talk less.