The Law of Nature I’d Change
As to today’s Word Press prompt: I think Bobby Burns expressed my wish extremely well centuries ago in his poem, “To A Louse”:
“Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel’s as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us, And foolish notion.”
If there’s one law of nature I’d change — human nature, that is — I’d endow us all with the ability to mentally pop out of ourselves long enough to receive these little flashes of truth now and then. I’d give us all those one-minute cameos where we can see ourselves from the eyes and ears of an impartial observer.
This ability wouldn’t be to only see our actions — or worse yet, to see what other people think of us. I have a dear friend who suffers from this type of paranoia; she’s convinced she can “read” what other people are thinking of her. Sad to say, this has not been any benefit to her life at all; rather, the whole world revolves around her. Always in a negative way. (“Everybody hates me! I can tell by the way they look at me. I know they’re plotting something.”)
As far as I can tell, wanting to know what others think of us leads to disaster and total self-absorption. We “grow up” when we finally get out of that mindset, stop being the center of our world, and start caring about others.
No, I was thinking of some brilliant flash of insight that would hit us now and again (preferably BEFORE we do something we’ll regret) where we could look beyond our actions and reactions, right down into our own hearts. Where we could for one instant understand our attitudes, the motives that prompt us to say and do — and the effect our attitude has on others.
I believe it would indeed save us “from many a blunder. And foolish notion.”
Having made this wish for one and all, I believe these “flashes” are actually possible, based on our desire to know the TRUTH. Alas! We mortals tend to get so carried away with our own plotting and our own self-justification! When we love the truth — instead of being so fond of our common sense, our explanations and excuses — we have much clearer vision as we go through l;ife.
Having said that, I do believe there’s a way to achieve these little glimpses. This method is called AN HONEST FRIEND.
I had an experience once, involving a kind but honest friend, that produced exactly this “flash” I’m writing about.
This goes back to the fall of 1981, to one Sunday evening after our church service when I was moaning to a dear Christian friend about my back pain. I’d had chemotherapy for breast cancer in the spring, sank into a chemically-induced depression in the summer, and now in late fall I’d injured my back. I was definitely frustrated!
Martha listened, smiled, then said, “And maybe there’s a little self-pity in there too?”
Her words weren’t sarcastic or critical. She wasn’t making an accusation. She simply left it as a suggestion, something for me to think about. But oh, how it stung!
On the way home that evening I was rehashing her remark in my mind — and the unfairness of it — I was fuming for awhile. Look what all I’d been through! Then the question came to me: “What if it’s true? What if you really are drowning in a well of self-pity? Wouldn’t you want to know it?”
So I silently prayed, “Lord, Is this true? If I really am feeling sorry for myself here, let me see it.”
And just like that I did see what she was seeing. It wasn’t nice. I didn’t like it. But I had to admit she’d told me the truth.
The next morning my friend phoned up and told me how sorry she was she’d let that comment slip out. I told her, “Martha, DON’T apologize! That was exactly what I needed to hear.”
One day Jesus told his listeners, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
The truth really does open the door of our prison — the one we’ve built and locked ourselves into. However, that first gleam of light may be awfully painful.
Thank God for true friends who are willing to stick their necks out and give us those flashes of insight that “free us from many a blunder. And foolish notion!”