Written on the tomb of Anglican Bishop (1100 AD) in the Crypts of Westminister Abbey
“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered that the world would not change, so I shortened my sights and decided to change only my country.
But it too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I steeled for changing my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed my world.”
I have read this over several times during the last week and contemplated it often throughout the day. There is a big difference in trying to change someone through control than it is to guide them. We can take Alyssa as an example. When she was younger, I did not want her to be one of those children that screamed and begged for candy all the time. So I took the big candy container off the top of the refrigerator one day and told her that she could have as much candy as she wanted to eat. I told her that I still expected her to eat her meals and if she ate too much candy, she would vomit.
What did she do?
She ate too much candy…
And then she vomited.
But she never ate too much candy again. Vomiting once was enough for her to not want to repeat the experience.
The point is that I gave her the opportunity to experience a consequence. There are many things in our children’s lives that we can allow them to experience to help them make better choices in the future. It helps them build one precept upon another. I wouldn’t suggest allowing an experience that may set them up for a failure that has a long term effect such as forcing them to drive drunk, but there are many things we can do as parents to “direct” and not “control” our children.
It is the same with our own lives. We are in “control” of our own choices. We can change the things about ourselves that we don’t like or we can keep them. No one is going to “make” us do anything. Right?
Well, that is only true if it isn’t against the law because if we are caught, the police will “make” us go to jail. Anything short of that kind of action is truly our call. We are in charge of our future…our destiny. We can look backwards or we can live now with an eye toward the future. The choice is up to us.
We are in “control” of our own thoughts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Keep thinking positive thoughts. Don’t dwell on the negative in your own life or the people around you. Strive to see the good in people and in the opportunities (let’s not call them hardships or trials) placed in our paths.
Is it hard to do? Are we going to make mistakes?
Sure! I can say with a resounding “YES!” that it is an extremely difficult undertaking. But remember that anything worth doing is usually a struggle to accomplish.
So I hope that we won’t be like the Anglican Bishop. I hope that we all can make the changes in ourselves and our lives that will make the world a better place to live.