Sue to Mark 12, part 3
No, Iím not putting it off. I was just getting warmed up. (!) OK, here it (my personal self-assessment) comes: I guess my trait that presents the biggest hurdle in intimate relationships is that Iím not the most compassionate person in the world. Iím the oldest child, the daughter of an Air Force Colonel with a commanding, powerful presence, who continually pounded me with concepts like Rugged Individualism and The Pioneer Spirit. When the Going gets Tough, the Tough get Going, etc. These concepts have served me well through all my tribulations Ė but they do make for a somewhat militaristic mothering style. Iím a terrible nurse. My kids are basically not allowed to be sick. When, for some reason, they disobey and get sick, I respond with Ė ďYouíll be fine. Here, wash down this Tylenol and Vitamin C with some orange juice and youíll be good as new.Ē I feel that antibiotics are way over-prescribed, and I very rarely take my girls to the doctor when they run a fever. They are actually phenomenally healthy.
Iím often impatient with peopleís problems because Iíve seen how people are the cause of most of their problems. Of course, stuff happens TO you, like it did to you and me Ė things we didnít cause. Still, the life-impact of these problems depends, I believe, on your response to them. One of the best books I read in college was Manís Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who lived through the Nazi concentration camps. That was his main idea Ė that no one can take away our choice of how to respond to things outside our control. We can CHOSE to be faithful or longsuffering or selfless in the face of it all, or we can choose from a wide range of opposite reactions Ė unremitting bitterness, anger, violence, insanity, cruelty, stupidity. So often, people give themselves over to ďvictim-hoodĒ. It is much easier, in some ways, than the mental persistence which patience and courage and longsuffering require. Of course, those who choose what I think is the meaningful path are allowed moments of discouragement and failure. But Iím talking about a response which is PRIMARILY patient, faithful and selfless. Oh dear, this does sound like Iím trying to justify my failure to be compassionate. I think Iím trying more to explain it, but the fact is, I AM low in the compassion department and I need to work on it.
My brother-in-law Mark (the compulsive vacuumer) says I talk too much. My family gives me a hard time about this, so undoubtedly, this is the case. Gee, you wouldnít guess that from the excessive length of my letters, would you? I am trying to put a lid on it more and engage the other parties more fully.