Monday, October 26, 2009

Get Bitter or Play Better

My mom is one of the smartest people I know. She'll also forgive me if I steal some of her thoughts and lay them out in public.

In the last week or so, I've felt increasingly bummed about several situations in my life. (If you know me in "real life" don't think this is you or presume you know what I'm talking about...cause you'd never guess...there are multiple situations, including some that don't directly affect me...and it doesn't matter in the scope of what I'm about to say anyhow! :) In every situation, someone has put a lot of effort into building relationship. The person (or people) on the other end have been either unresponsive or have been downright hurtful in their response (or lack thereof.) I'm not talking about "too busy for a playdate" kind of stuff. I'm talking about serious damage in relationships; unfortunately, stuff that seems to be part of the human condition.

So often in life, this leads to bitterness, distrust, or a desire to "get even." But we are called to something different. We are called to love, despite what "the other guy" does. We're told to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

No small task.

So, I've been thinking. When put into this kind of situation, you have several options. But generically, three big ones come to mind:

1. Do nothing in response.

2. Get even.

3. Do the opposite of what the world would expect you to do.

So my mom's idea? "Get Bitter or Get Better." Sometimes we find ourselves suddenly playing a negative "game" with someone that we never intended to play. The object of the game for them? To get you to play a "Bitter" game. In this game, the other person holds all the cards. You find yourself playing the game, getting more and more bitter...something you never intended to do. You wake up one morning and realize you're playing a game you never wished to start. And decide you won't continue.

You decide to play "Better." How does better work? The object of this game is self-improvement. The other person becomes an opportunity rather than an opponent. The rules of the game? To practice unconditional love for the person (whether you feel it or not.) When you give love--even when it's totally rejected--you win. Again, the object of the game is for YOU to work on YOURSELF, rather than to change anything about the situation or the other person.

Are you feeling vindictive? Bitterness is harmful to YOU. If you can find a way to play "Better" rather than "Bitter," you've won the game of self improvement.


to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference."

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