Friday, April 29, 2011

And Why Do YOU Get Up in the Morning?

What is the real story?  I have a colleague that poses this question to me at least three or four times a week. What is the real story driving a person’s actions?  That is the query he poses so regularly.

A friend becomes enraged at something that appears trivial to those closest to him.  And everyone wonders privately: what set him off?  Others seem to have a complete inability to engage in meaningful interpersonal relationships. Friendships begin with a bang, but soon end with a whimper. They are not close to anyone.  What kind of personal story is driving such behavior?

I also think of people that are bitter.  I mean they are bitter about life itself.  The glass of life is not just half-empty in their estimation.  The glass is sapped dry.  The word “joy” has been erased from their conscious memory. There is a personal narrative depleting that person’s passion for life itself.  What is the story?

Civil Rights activist and noted author Maya Angelou makes this statement:  "I may be affected by the things that happen to me but I will not be diminished by them"… She is a thoughtful lady.  (If you look at her credentials that is quite an understatement.)  It is naïve to think that we are not going to be affected by the things that happen to us.  But I don’t like the idea of being the chronic victim either.  Maya Angelou’s sentiment is right on target.   I would actually take her thoughts one step further…

I am very fortunate to work with people in the community that I serve who are extremely passionate about making a difference in the world we live in.  I have retired friends that donate hours of their time every week to projects like Habitat for Humanity. Several of those individuals grew up in sub-standard housing.   Another friend spends an inordinate amount of time volunteering for the food pantry located in our newly constructed Christian Service Center. He shared with me recently that his family was poor when he grew up, but they never went without food…  I have friends serving in law enforcement who were victims of horrible crimes when they were young.  I would love to share their stories, but those experiences are intensely private.  

In each of these cases, a personal story is driving their passion to serve others.
At some point in their life, they decided that they would not be “diminished” by the things that happened to them.  Bitterness toward our past is not helpful. Maintaining hateful feelings toward those that created chaos in our lives is equally destructive. 

What is the story driving someone’s behavior?  It could very well be a sordid tale of abuse, hurt, and abandonment.   Let’s hope for our friends that they won’t be diminished by the things that have happened to them.  In fact, let’s maintain that same goal for ourselves… Let's get up in the morning determined to allow our past experiences to drive us to greatness. 

I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him. 
--Booker T. Washington

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