Friday, June 3, 2011

Best case and worst case scenarios

Just so you know, this is a long one but I think it's important.  So get a cup of coffee and some bon-bons and read on!

One of the best lessons my parents taught us growing up was to consider the "best case" and the "worst case" in a given situation.  This technique has become a legacy.  Handsome Hero and I use it and are teaching the wonderkids to use it, also.

Considering the best and worst case is usually applicable when you feel wronged.  It basically means to consider the motives of the person you feel has offended you.  When you do that, you realize that so many of the things we get huffy about aren't intentional or even someone else's fault.

Example 1:  With strangers
I was recently sitting in the grocery store parking lot with my blinker on, waiting for a car to leave the space I was gunning for.  It was pouring rain, and I had lots to get, and this space was directly in front of the door.  As soon as the car backed out, another car roared up from the other direction and shot into the space.  The nerve! 

Best Case:  He didn't see me.  He was quite elderly {but with a lead foot}.
Worst Case:  He purposely took the spot because he hates me.

After I searched around, found another parking space, and headed into the store, I looked back and saw that the man in the car was still trying to park.  He was backing up and trying again, over and over, and I realized that, most likely, he really didn't see me.  He couldn't even park in a Costco-sized parking space.

Example 2:  With children
When Ella was learning to talk, she loved that nasty little word they all seem to learn so early - NO!  One evening, after a particularly trying day, she was sitting in her high chair saying, "NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!"  It was a the proverbial straw.

Best Case:  She was using her vocal chords, just practicing.  Or maybe she was disobeying and needed to be disciplined, but it wasn't a personal vendetta.
Worst Case:  She hated me and was trying to drive me insane, and it was a personal vendetta.

I whirled around, ready to scream my head off at her, and there she was, pointing at the window, ecstatic to show me the pretty white " 'no" that had just started falling outside.

Example 3:  With Handsome Hero
Handsome Hero and I have very different ideas of clean.  I can pick up a room, take a few swipes with a vacuum if necessary, and call it a day.  He can take a toothbrush and clean the carpet, but leave all the toys out.  My way, you don't know the room's not really clean.  His way, you don't know the room really is clean.

When I was a new stay-at-home mommy, I began to notice that Handsome Hero's clothes were perpetually EVERYWHERE!  I kept asking him to start helping by picking them up, and took it VERY personally when things would go back to "normal" in just a couple of days. 

Best Case:  He isn't meaning to annoy me.  Besides, who's home all day and who works long hours away and yet still comes home excited to be with his family?
Worst Case:  He just wants to make me work harder.  He has no appreciation for all I do for him.  The LEAST he could do is put them in the hamper!  What a chauvinist pig!

Well, eventually I grew up, stopped harping, and just started picking up the clothes myself each morning {I mean, really, it only takes five minutes}.  A few months later, I heard him tell a friend that one way he helped me out around the house was by cleaning up his clothes so that I didn't have a mess to deal with.  I should have kept my mouth shut, but I snorted, "What?  You never pick up your clothes!"  He was so surprised!  He said that since they weren't on the floor and I wasn't complaining about it, he just assumed he had been doing a better job picking them up!  Ladies, this one opened my eyes in a big way.  There was no malice.  He literally didn't see the mess.

Of course, sometimes people really do mean things that fit the worst case scenario, but in those times we are only responsible for our responses.  James 3:13 says, "Who among you is wise and understanding?  Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom." 

Clearly, I struggle in this still.  One thing I know for sure is that my flesh is weak.  I'm thankful, however, to have a ingrained barometer by which to check my responses.

As a side note, I would like to protect Handsome Hero from your beady little glares.  He is actually extremely helpful, and is always doing things for me and encouraging me to take time for myself and to relax.  He doesn't expect me to clean up after him, but doesn't notice the mess he makes unless I point it out.  I have chosen to show him love by cleaning up his messes so that he has one less responsibility.  Also, he chooses to ignore my many faults {like the many nights he comes home and I have forgotten to make dinner, and we end up eating eggs}.  Never one complaint from him.  Not one.

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