I can become crazy annoyed with one of my sons. What in particular presses my buttons and has me hopping mad? He is talking about something, sharing something, asking for something, complaining about something. Listening, I say something like “Enough. I don’t want to hear any more. Stop. This is not the time. No more!” What does he do? He continues on interrupted.
What do I take that to mean? I give it many interpretations, many stories. And it goes something like this: he does not respect me; he is selfish; he lacks social skills; he is stupid! What does that give rise to? Either I leave the room or I put him down through labelling or I shout at him. Whilst I regret this later and apologise it is true that in the moment I feel justified, even righteous.
A funny thing happened today. Son asked me to take him to buy a torch. We enter the store, I ask one of the clerks and we get to the section where the torches are hanging. We pick a torch and head out to the cash tills to pay. It is late, towards closing time. With the torch in his hand son starts moving towards and checking each of the closed tills. I tell him they are closed. He continues. I go over take the torch from him head to the only staffed desk (Customer Services), pay and head for the car.
My son is already at the car. I open it and we both enter. And I say “Son it occurs to me that you lack common sense..” He stops me and say “I don’t want to hear it.” What do I do? I carry on uninterrupted. What does he say? He says “I told you I don’t want to hear it.” What do I do? I continue saying what I was saying without missing a word! What does he do? He puts his hands over his ears. What do I do? I continue speaking!
We get home. What hits me? It hits me for the very first time that I am a hypocrite. I have just done to my son that which I detest when he does it to me. Worse still, it hits me that this is not the first time I have done this. Then this question hits me hard: “Am I the cause of his behaviour? Did he learn it from me?”
The answer? Yes, it is highly likely that I am the cause in the matter of how my children show up: what they say, what they do, how they say it, how they do it….
What is present for me? A certain humility. A recognition that I am cause in the matter of my life. And that I am reaping that which I have sown – at least when it comes to the behaviour of wife, sons, and daughter. Sitting with that I am clear that there is no space for complaining to show up. Nor any space for me to play victim.
How about you? Where in your life are you the cause of that which shows up in your life and of which you get righteous and complain?