Are you guilty?

There is a severe lack of guilt in our society today. We shift the blame; we deny culpability; we refuse to accept responsibility. We assuage each others tendency towards feeling guilty by agreeing they are not to blame.

We excuse, rationalise and justify our actions so we can quickly go back to feeling good about ourselves. It seems to me, now more than ever, that we are a society that is obsessed with feeling positive, happy, and ‘good’ about who we are. And this leaves little room for feeling guilty about anything.

In our world of ‘do what feels good, just don’t hurt anybody’, of ‘live and let live’, of our insatiable quest for ourselves, we can’t afford to feel remorse or guilt over our actions lest it moves us off the path to eternal happiness.

Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body – an indicator that something is wrong, that we need to stop what we are doing and reassess.

But we’ve no time for guilt and it’s call to introspection; we’ve no time for anything that doesn’t lift us up, stroke our ego and tell us endless platitudes about ourselves and our ‘inherent’ goodness.

It’s no wonder the world pays little attention to the historical events of Good Friday.

Heaven help us if we should dwell on anything that confronts us with our tendency toward evil and sin.

Heaven help us if we listen when being told that we are not good, or that we need something outside ourselves to save us from ourselves.

Heaven help us indeed.

Tie ’em to a stake, I say.

LILY PILLY STAKE

Just before the end of last year, we removed every sign of vegetation from our front garden. We didn’t do this because we hate trees, we did it because what had been planted by the previous owners was wholly unsuitable for the area and the proximity to the house. So, for months, we have had a bare and barren front garden while we had stumps ground and fertilised the soil to ensure good growth of the plants we intended to fill it with.

We bought quite a few of these native Lillypillies (above), which all came tied to stakes. We had a brief discussion on whether or not to remove the stakes once the trees were planted, as the stakes aren’t exactly pretty. We decided it would be best to leave them in. Frankly, we need all the help we can get when growing plants, and keeping the stakes in will ensure, we hope, that they grow straight and also that they have some support while getting firmly established root-wise.

I was talking to a dear friend recently about raising kids and one of the things we touched on was the lack of discipline in parenting these days. She told me what her father had always said in regards to raising children. He said that they were like plants and needed to be tied to a stake in order to grow straight and to provide them with support until they were strong enough to stand on their own.

What a wise man. And how apt given the discussion I had just had with my fellow gardening husband.

It’s true. Children need that support and structure to grow on while they are young. They need the restraints of those ties to keep them growing the right way. You’ll notice though, that the ties around the plants stem aren’t tight; there is plenty of room for growth and movement.

My father-in-law, who was an expert tomato grower and a big believer in staking fledgling tomato plants, always cautioned me against tying the plant too tightly to the stake when I started growing my own. “You must leave room for growth and not strangle the plant” he would say. As with children, too much discipline will stifle their growth, limit their capacity to bear fruit and flowers and not lead to maturity. Once again in life, we find that balance is the key.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that the pendulum has swung too far and children are barely disciplined (don’t even get me started on all the pop-psychology of child-raising these days). They are left, untethered, to grow in whichever way they can, devoid of guidance and asked to weather the storms and lashing rain with nothing to provide support whatsoever. It seems to me, current parenting trends focus far too much on how the child ‘feels’ and not enough on preparing them for the realities of the world they are living in, which are realities regardless of how they ‘feel’ about them.

Given some direction and support, children, just like our Lillypillies, will come to a time when they will be able to stand on their own, once they are firmly rooted and their core is strong and straight. Then, the stake can be removed, the ties loosened and the child, who by now is not a child any longer, can bloom and fruit all the more because of it’s steady start and deep roots.

What you will have is a person who not only can withstand all life throws at them but who can thrive in spite of it all. To not just survive but to thrive is proper living. And, really, isn’t that what we want for our kids?

Busy, busy, busy.

CalendarI recently heard an amazing woman speak and one of the things she threw in was that ‘we wear busyness like a badge of honour’.  I’ve noticed an increase in this type of living, and have been there myself. And what is happening now it seems, is that everyone else expects you to be just as busy as they are, often starting conversations like this “How you going? Busy?” Not even giving you a chance to say otherwise, and if you do, you’re just a little (or a lot!) looked down on.

Many people are so very proud of themselves if they are busy and constantly tired.

I think busyness is a chronic disease of our society. And we have all, at one point or another, believed a lie: that we have no control over how busy we are.

Not being busy is a choice, just as being busy is a choice. Why do we choose to be so busy that we don’t have time for the simplest of life’s pleasures? Why are we so petrified of those blank white squares on the calendar? There are a myriad of reasons why but the one that I see most often is that our sense of self worth is wrongly tied up with what we do, instead of who we are.

When I meet someone for the first time, my favourite question is “What are your hobbies?” People are often surprised, expecting the standard ‘day job’ question. And sometimes, it’s amazing the conversations that follow, and sometimes it’s really sad when they have no answer.

I remember having to take some conscious steps, not too long ago in fact, to de-busy my life. Now, I have more time available to do what’s important to me, and best of all, I have time to spend with those I love most. And absolute best of all? I have the head space to be in the moment with those people and things.

I often remember a saying my dad used to say  (and still does!) –

God made us human beings, not human doings.

Is your identity and self worth wrapped up in how busy you are? Are you brave enough to try and change it?