Days 2017

Days 2017

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Letters Not Sent

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being a tongue-biter...someone who struggles with being too judgmental...even if I occasionally manage to keep my mouth shut.  In the writing process I managed to get all nice and worked up about some things that really push my buttons, and at the time it felt kind of good to just say whatever I wanted, in print.  I've had an occasional writing tantrum over the past few years, but I think, I hope, that may have been my last one.  It just so happens that I've had some clarity in that department and I thought it was worth celebrating on this blog (which eventually gets printed and frequently read by my children, who love seeing their names and pictures in print.)

A few days after I got on my soap box, writing that blog post, our family learned about Self-Control for Family Home Evening.  By the time we were done I felt about this big.  The main idea for the lesson came from this scripture.  "Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love." (Alma 38:12) We looked at some bridles with the kids and talked about how they help the horses be useful to their masters, etc.  Mostly the lesson was focused on not losing our tempers, but the more I thought about it, I realized that the scriptures says "all" your passions.  As in, even those self-righteous, soap box, fire-and-brimstone ones.  Why would that be?  How can that be right?  The answer is also given..."that ye may be filled with love".

This actually makes a lot of sense.  When I'm feeling preachy and finger-pointy, charity generally flies out the window.  (And we all know that charity is the greatest of these).

When I was a kid we had a framed scripture...don't remember if it hung on the wall or what, but I do remember pointing to it and asking my mom what the word "wrath" meant.  As in , "A soft answer turneth away wrath".  In light of my new thoughts on bridling our passions, I'm realizing that maybe the most effective wrath that can be turned away is MY OWN... So, next time I'll be formulating a peacemaking response to my own opinions instead of a rabble-rousing one. 

But, does that mean I'm suddenly non-effective in the ways that I want to change the world?  Don't you have to be worked up sometimes, especially for a good cause?  Remember that word bridle. The horse is not the boss, here. 

Case in point.

Recently finished reading Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.  Yes, all zillion
pages of it, and loved the whole thing.  Lincoln did something regularly that I thought was an awesome lesson for our day and age of instant communication.  Whenever someone did something that he disagreed with, was angry about, offended him, etc., that required a response, he would carefully draft a letter.  And not send it right away.  Usually he would end up writing a toned-down final draft, to his credit, although many of his unsent, more heated, letters survive. He was a master peacemaker--one of the main reasons he was first elected as president (there were several other candidates who probably should have received the nomination) was because he was the only one who didn't have any personal enemies, making him everyone's favorite second choice, therefore, someone everyone could agree on. 

And he changed the world--for GOOD. 

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