A friend of mine is going through a divorce. It’s not always a pretty process. In fact, the feelings of both parties are bouncing wildly from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Anger, sadness, love, grief. It’s all there. Sometimes all in a single sentence in fact. The desire to lash out swirls with the desire to extend love and move through the transition with ease and grace. As in most high-conflict situations, there are opportunities in each moment to come from a place of love or come from a place of fear. It’s a fine line and one that often seems hard to balance, especially when our own buttons get pushed. One thing that I’ve found makes it easier to stand in love even in the midst of a high conflict situation is to look at the entire situation from a child’s perspective.
One of my favorite books as a child was Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. In 1978, Astrid accepted a peace prize in Germany and in her acceptance speech, she shared this story:
“When I was about twenty years old, I met an old pastor’s wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn’t believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time.
“But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking–the first in his life. And she told him he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying.
“He said to her, ‘Mama, I couldn’t find a switch, but here’s a rock you can throw at me.’ All of the sudden a mother understood how the situation felt from the child’s point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.
“The mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence.”
Violence – whether in thought, word or deed – breaks our spirits. We have a choice in each and every moment. Do we want to break someone’s spirit or enrich someone’s spirit? Our ego would chose the former. Today, I encourage you to let your Spirit make the choice instead.
Many thanks to Attachment Parenting International for bringing Astrid’s speech to my attention.