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Sunday, Mar. 9, 2014
The Bathroom MirrorPosted Sunday, February 28, 2010, at 12:43 PM
"You are looking at the face of the person responsible for your happiness."
I was visiting in the home of a widow and needed to hit "the necessary room" as she called it. Upon leaving I asked her about the small sign she had taped to the bathroom mirror.
Those were words my husband used as his philosophy in life, she explained.
The message touched to a core in my own life. How many times had I blamed my own situations on power I had actually given over to others? How many times had I expected a parent, a teacher or supervisor, or my partner in a relationship to determine my own happiness?
How many times had I chosen to blame others instead of taking charge of my life?
It seems to me that I'm not the only person who struggles with this theme. Some writers call this self-determination. I have the ability of choosing how I will respond to every situation in my life. I have the authority to determine not only my reactions but my reasoning for making the decisions I make. I have the responsibility of changing my responses if I'm not satisfied with the long term results of my choices.
I have the right to set my own course. Indeed, even if I choose not to, I'm then making the choice of letting others decide for me. At times it is much easier to play "Poor Me" or "Pity Me" or "Ain't It Awful."
That, ultimately, is not how I want my life to be.
I've lived too long to believe that everyone wants happiness in their lives. I see too many people who sabotage their lives in order to keep from achieving the happiness they claim they desire. And when I realize that I've been sabotaging myself ... I have to stare at myself in the mirror.
Gene was the name of the husband of the widow I was visiting. She described his family of origin, his brothers and sisters, and the realization he came to that his "miserable" life was of his own choosing. He'd gone back to college and eventually taught. He'd returned from war to celebrate in having a "bright future." He married and raised a family even though others thought of him as disabled. He wanted happiness in his life and she smiled as she affirmed their days together had indeed all been happy ones.
Some things we can't control. She couldn't stop his death from natural causes. She was in charge of how she was going to spend the rest of her life. And, she taped his philosophy to her bathroom mirror to remind herself of this important gift.
Upon leaving that congregation I received a small gift from that same widow. She had made me a copy of her husband's philosophy.
I still have it starring at me on my bathroom mirror.
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.