Photo Credit: “Image from page 230 of “Sketches in duneland” (1918)”, © 1918 Internet Archive Book Images, Flickr | PD | via Wylio

As I sit watching through my north-facing window in the last thirty minutes, I have seen the trees stand perfectly still and I have seen them flail their branches. Every so often the glass rattles with such force that I wonder if it will break. All of this is in reaction to the heavy and gusting winds of this March 2 nor’easter.

This leads me to think about my own reactivity not only to gusting winds that blow through my life, but also in smaller ways. Last week, I especially found myself sucked into just such a vortex whenever I read or heard of the attempts to belittle and undermine the survivors from the Parkland school shooting. The problem in that last sentence lies here: “found myself sucked into.”
I do not have to be a mere pawn acting or reacting at the whim of others seeking to provoke an anxious response. Yes, I will be buffeted by winds and events. I will find myself rocked. The difference is in how I react or respond. I can pause and reflect on what has occurred, then choosing how I will respond. With enough practice, even in moments where a faster response is needed, I will hopefully choose a reply or action that resounds with my guiding principle. When I fail, which will most assuredly happen, I can acknowledge that, apologize, and make amends.

Several years ago, in a good amount of emotional and relational duress, I finally succumbed to advice I had received from a number of sources. Being stubborn, I resisted what I knew would be good for me. Finally, I had had enough wallowing in my self-pity and I began working with a family systems coach, specifically one well-versed in Bowen Family Systems Theory, and engaging in a purposeful study of BFST.

This engagement has been life-changing for me in many ways. Ask me when you have time and I will probably gladly expand and expound upon those many ways. Here and now, I want to comment on only one. We all need guiding principles in our lives and we all generally have them though often they are buried so deep we might not even be aware of how much they guide our choices and actions. Through much deeper cogitation and reflection on my life, I came to realize that my most basic guiding principle is I choose love.

This is the bone-deep bedrock confession of who I am. This does not mean I have always acted in a loving way. This means that I know I have a choice in how I act. Again, I say, I am not a mere pawn. I have agency. The agency I choose is the path of love—care and concern for the other as I have known and experienced what I believe is the self-giving care and concern of the One who is at the source of all that is.