Sunday, July 22, 2012

Acting Myself into a New Way of Thinking

I think I mentioned that last weekend we saw the Church Basement Ladies in a play called "A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement."  It was delightful... but one of the lines that they kept repeating over and over again was this:

I'm going to act myself into a new way of thinking instead of trying to think myself into a new way of acting.    

It was repeated multiple times during the play.  And it definitely applies to love that is a commitment and not an emotion.

Four different times since I have started blogging I've mentioned a concept that CS Lewis taught to his readers have become his students of religion and philosophy.   The most recent was in April and I wrote about it at length in a post called "What's Love Got to Do With It." 

He says:
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
So Lewis must have inspired the Church Basement Ladies.  Obviously their point is that it works better to start doing the right things until you think the right things than it does to wait to for your thinking to get you to the place you are ready to do.  

An example.  This morning I had a very hard time with one of my kids who is going back to Job Corps tomorrow.  He, as he has so many of the Sunday mornings of our 16 years together, was awful-- swearing, defiant, obnoxious, casting the blame on me, and attempting to do anything he could to ruin my day.

When we finally all got to church (fortunately Salinda is here today so she could help transport) it worked out that he sat next to me in the pew, quite closely actually.  I was annoyed.  I didn't want to sit by him and I couldn't get myself to a place mentally where I wanted anything to do with him.  My whole inner being was crying out for a break from him....


I decided I could at least act in decent ways even though my thoughts were negative.   I spoke nicely and softly to him.  I didn't say anything negative to him.  I shared a few things about the church with him (this was his first Sunday there).  And all of the sudden I realized that my mind was saying things like "you know, he's not so bad after all."  

Whether or not that last statement is true is irrelevant.  The miracle is that as my actions were what led me to think and feel better about him.   I acted myself into a new way of thinking.

I don't always do well with this but I think it's a hugely important principle for parenting tough kids.  Next time you are struggling with one of your kids -- try acting yourself into a new way of thinking instead of attempting to think yourself into a new way of acting.

Just sayin. 

1 comment:

Mandy said...

I needed this today. Thank you.