Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Frances'

Put on your thinking cap and imagine this silly scenario: There are two 18 year-old girls named Frances with exactly the name height, hair color, personality, and mannerisms. In fact, they're clones. During this particular day, a stream of unlikeable happenings floods both of them, but one Frances ends up still joyful at the end of the day, and the other Frances becomes utterly miserable.

The first Frances begins her day by brushing her teeth. About halfway through, she realizes that her toothbrush was wet before she began brushing. Come to find out, her sister had accidentally used it before her. Although her gut reaction was to get annoyed, she shrugged and laughed it off. Next, Frances burnt her own toast by accident. The first thing that came to her mind was, "Well, it is Monday," but she decided she just wasn't going to let it bother her. On her way to work a reckless driver cut in front of her and gave Francis a dirty look. "How rude!" Frances thought to herself. A machine gun on the hood of her car would've been really nice right about then, but she stopped her anger and whispered to herself, "No... you have to choose your battles and this is definitely not one of them." She arrived at work safely and the rest of the day went fabulous.

The second Frances brushed her teeth and realized that her sister had been using her toothbrush... again. Annoyed, she went over to her sister's room and, as nicely as she could, asked her to be more careful next time. When Frances burned her toast, she took her sister's toothbrush and swept the blackened bread with the bristles and put it in the bathroom. "That'll teach her," she thought in revenge. A crazy driver cut in front of Francis on the way to work, and in quick reflex Francis layed on the horn and got on her new enemy's bumper. She followed her by two inches for about a mile, when suddenly the rude driver slammed on her breaks, sending Frances' car hard into her back end. Furious, Frances unbuckled, stormed out of the car and started yelling at the original troublemaker. The other woman got out of her car and started cussing Frances out for following so close. Frances pulled back and punched the woman in the nose, sending her bleeding onto the asphalt. The other woman got up and started beating Frances! In a few minutes, police came and broke up the fight. Now Frances must face trial and possibly jail and a fine for damage to another vehicle, harassment and physical assault.

Need I say more?

Our reactions, not our circumstances, define us. These two girls went through the exact same things, but what made the difference was the way they responded to each undesirable happening. Frances #1 made it through the day with a smile on her face, but it wasn't because her day went well, it's because she decided she wasn't going to let petty stuff bother her. Frances #2 is awaiting court now, not because her circumctances were any worse than her clone's, but because she acted on impuse.

I've learned the hard way: if I act impulsively, I have a plethera of "Peter moments." I say things without thinking and without even meaning what I'm saying, I do things I would never do if my whole day had gone well, and I think thoughts like, "I hate my life," "Why me?" and "I would rather die than go through this."

Make it a habit to stop and think when someone ticks you off or life just isn't going the merry way you planned. Is your gut reaction to lash out or get defensive? Stop. Is it instint to think the worst about the sitation? Think, "If I give into this, Satan will have gotten me with this trick again." Like Paul with the snake in the fire, learn to shake it off. Decide that whatever ill betide, you just won't let it bother you!

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