Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21: I Have Not the Power, Control Issues, Letting Go, New Cartoon

"Spirit!" he said, "this is a fearful place.  In leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust me.  Let us go!"

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head.

"I understand you," Scrooge returned, "and I would do it, if I could.  But I have not the power, Spirit.  I have not the power."

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come wants Scrooge to move the sheet covering the face of a body.  The body is Scrooge's, and Scrooge knows it.  His powerlessness comes from fear and sorrow and remorse.  He doesn't want to behold his future self, cold and uncared for.  The Spirit is asking him to do something he, mentally and spiritually and physically, cannot do.

I've often confronted situations I have no power over.  Things that broke my heart in many ways.  When my wife was diagnosed  bipolar, I would have done anything in my power to make her well.  I couldn't do it.  When my wife became addicted to the Internet and sex as part of her mental illness, I wanted to do anything to take away those addictions.  I couldn't do it.  If my daughter or son develops bipolar or some other illness, I won't be able to do anything about it.  I have not the power, as Scrooge says.

There are things in life I certainly do have power over.  I have power over my weight.  I could lose the pounds if I ate less pizza or bowls of Lucky Charms.  I could get in better physical shape if I exercised on a more consistent basis.  I could make my house a little more livable if I sold or threw out some of the crap I've accumulated over the years.  If I sent my poems out for publication on a more consistent basis, I'd probably get published more.  These are things I do have power over, to some extent.  (Genetics and the taste of poetry editors also come into play, unfortunately.)

I am a person who has huge control issues.  I don't like feeling powerless, like somebody or something else is running my life.  As a Christian, I shouldn't have too much of a problem with this concept.  I shouldn't mind letting go of my life, giving it up to God.  After all, God is the ultimate decision maker.  God makes all the big calls:  birth, life, death.  Ultimately, it's what we do with our gifts (talents, money, property, health) that falls within our control.  If I choose to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, I am choosing to shorten my life.  If I choose to eat a box of Ding Dongs every day, I am choosing to become obese (and shortening my life, as well).  If I choose to spend an hour or two writing blog posts every day, well...

My point is that I should focus a little less on the things I don't have control over (my wife's mental illness, my daughter's quicksilver moods).  It's all about maintaining serenity.  You've probably heard this prayer before:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Saint Marty should have that prayer tattooed on his forehead.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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