Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

   Cheryl was too busy to listen to another litany of complaints about a woman I’d decided had power over me. She laid aside the stack of wood she was sanding, put her hands on her hips and said, “Listen, I’m going to tell you something you won’t think is true but it’s the cause of all your problems. You’re a people pleaser.” She ignored my smirk in favor of the task at hand and I left mumbling to myself. She was right I didn’t think it was true.

   People pleaser conjured up all sorts of images none of which fit the one I claimed for myself. I ran her observation by a couple of friends on the off chance she might, maybe have a point. They dismissed it the idea as absurd and I tried to. The more I tried to shake it loose though the more it stuck with me like a burr on the back of a favorite sweater. I finally decided to consider it and over the course of a weekend realized she was right. I was in my brash outspoken way a people pleaser. I was like a mangy dog that was happy to be scratched with a stick with a handful of people in my life and it showed. That was three years ago and it took a summer and a bit to heal myself of the disease to please that I didn’t know I had to begin with. Then much to my dismay it made reappearance this past week.

    I managed to turn a long week into a long unnecessary assault on my self image. That would be the one that’s not a people pleaser any more. Something was wrong but I didn’t know what. I chalked it up to a bad week and a blue mood until Roger called one afternoon to ask me if I had seen Waiting for Superman, “I thought about you, you’re one of those teachers who give 150% every day and reach deep into your student’s hearts.” I laughed half heartedly and filled him in on the week. A student said she hated me and I needed to die and she was going to kill me, a colleague shared with me that she didn’t think our boss liked me very much, and a parent who came into a conference with a notebook of complaints that were as silly as they were unfounded. Roger, who is as kindhearted and gentle as they come listened then said, “Who had authority in your life?” It brought me up short the same way Cheryl’s comment did three years earlier.

  The answer was obvious to him and painfully obvious to me. It wasn’t God and it wasn’t love. It was someone else and somewhere else. I had yoked my self to the past, the future and to people who are a lot less concerned with me then I give them credit for and I suffered for it. I wish I could say that’s all it took for me to return to the moment and love but I lean toward stubborn. What can I say, I know myself. The weekend passed in dour self recrimination disguised as reflection until I finally had enough. Time was too dear to waste on sour hearted songs. Sometimes only rock and roll will do. Sunday afternoon I put the Grateful Dead on shuffle, shoved lessons plans into my book bag and surrendered myself to the moment. It’s where I should have been all along instead of in my head where I let myself get lost in the maze of what could be and might have been but isn’t.
    None of what I thought happened would have mattered if I hadn’t given God’s authority and power to them. That’s the real problem. At the very least I would have interpreted the events differently. Choice is a powerful thing. Who has authority in your life? Today it’s God. I hope it’s always God, but as Roger pointed out I am a fallible soul having a human experience so I breathe. I breathe into the moment where love resides and I pray for God to strengthen my heart and deepen my trust. It’s either fear or love, baby. This week it was fear.