Most people wouldn’t use the word jeopardize on any regular basis. It infers peril, danger, loss. However I think we all make choices and decisions which jeopardize our health, happiness, family, jobs, security, faith etc. we just make the choices so quickly and typically we don’t think it will matter in the long run, but even choice we make or fail to make shapes our lives and impacts others.
My ex-husband chose to look at porn. He chose to go to strip clubs and erotic massage parlors. He didn’t make them all at once. It was one small decision to click on a link. One more choice to walk in a club because he was far from home. A decision to purchase sex because it wasn’t intercourse so it didn’t count. I believe if all of his choices had been piled up and placed before him before he had actually made them, he would have understood how much he would jeopardize. And what none of us realize is we place into jeopardy not just own happiness but the happiness of others.
What happens to the daughters who learn their father was wanted for being a sexual predator? Did he know he was jeopardizing his daughters’ ability to trust men when he made his choices? Did I realize I was jeopardizing my own security by standing by an untrustworthy man? Of course not.
None of us spend much time considering how our small daily choices impact our lives and the lives of others.
I believe we are all aware that we learn lessons as we go through life. Some are obvious like; look both ways before crossing the street or foul language is not appropriate. But what about all of the lessons we learn unknowingly through our interactions with the people around us? For me lesson #1 to unlearn is:
Compliments people give you are never really genuine and can not be trusted to be true.
Growing up I don’t remember a time when I received a compliment that someone in my circle of family or friends didn’t find someway to discount what was said. If someone told me I was pretty and I shared that, I didn’t hear; I think so too or they are right or how lovely. I heard; well you could look like a monkey for all I know but I’d still love you. What does a child hear? The compliments can’t be trusted. I could give many examples but the point is I was taught to close myself off from any positive comments. I learned people don’t give genuine heartfelt comments and when I receive nice words, I should immediately disregard them.
How has this affected me? I have closed myself off from letting people love me. I’ve filtered out all the nice comments and have only let the criticism come through. No wonder I am so self criticial and struggle with believing in myself.
So for 2016, the first lesson I am going to teach myself is this;
Compliments given from people are genuine and can be trusted to be true.
“All we know is this moment, and this moment, Ross, we are alive! We are. We are. The past is over, it’s gone. What is to come doesn’t exist yet. That’s tomorrow! It’s only now that can ever be, at any one moment. And at this moment, now, we are alive – and together. We can’t ask more. There isn’t anymore to ask.” Demelza Poldark in The Angry Tide by Winston Graham.
I find myself returning again and again to the book series by Winston Graham. Each character has so much wisdom and insight, even the characters who are not so likable.
While I am not in a relationship now, the wisdom in Demelza’s words are powerful. She is right that we only have this moment to live. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is yet to be. We plan our lives. It’s what we are taught to do. Make a plan. Follow the rules. Love God. Love your neighbor. Unfortunately too many of us think this is some protection from future harm and sadness when it’s not. While a plan may prevent small things from going wrong, ultimately we have no guarantees in this life.
The best planning can not prevent tragedy from touching us. Some are lucky and go through life without so much as a hiccup but I wonder if ultimately having a life with no waves, no bumps, no mountains to climb makes for a shallow, less meaningful life. Because I believe it is our struggles and perseverance through those challenges that create the richness of life. The only way to see the the beautiful valley is to climb to the peak and that is never easy.
Demelza stumbles, as does Ross through life but their lives become deep, colorful, memorable and woven tightly together. Whether it’s a marriage, a familial relationship or a friendship it’s our shared struggles that strengthen the ties that bind us.