One of “Those” Books
Jennifer “Birdie” Shawker, Communications Coordinator, Unity of SA
I think we might all have one of “those” spiritual books. I know I do. A go-to resource at the ready. No matter how many times I pick it up and start to read, there is something meaningful or helpful that I did not notice the last time I read it. The book has lots of words penciled in the margins. It’s highlighted throughout. The cover is worn from so much use.
Well, ok, I have more than one. And I keep them close. One only has to look at my desk at Unity of SA or at my home to see. They are covered with such books.
The one I’m keeping particularly close right now is the book we are about to study, I of the Storm by Rev. Gary Simmons. It contains several spiritual concepts that have proven to be helpful to me.
In the first chapter, the author, Rev. Gary Simmons, rather brazenly proclaims that, “No one is against you”. I recall years ago, reading that for the first time and thinking he had lost his mind. New to Unity, I was confused. But I tried to keep an open mind with the concepts in the book. I’m so glad I did because this is the book that saved my family and me from our dreaded dinner time.
Specifically, what helped us was in chapter seven titled, See it Right, not Make it Right. This chapter is about perception and how one can improve a situation or person that seems adversarial by changing the way one looks at it and thinks about it. My adversarial situation was, as I said – dinner time. Every child-rearing book I read, all the literature from the pediatrician’s office, and “Parenting Magazine” were all stressing the importance of the family sitting down to at least one meal a day without the TV on. This was supposed to be helpful for children, providing a lower risk of depression, better social skills, better grades in school, and a lower risk of eating disorders. So, family dinners it was, I decided. I cooked elaborate meals, set the table carefully, and called my son and husband out from behind their favorite haunt, the TV. They would beg to use TV tables. I firmly said no and would tell my husband all the benefits of family dinners, stressing how the pediatrician insisted on them.
By taking to heart the premise of the book, that all conflict is from within one’s self, I began to wonder: would be so awful if we had dinner the way they wanted? Was it my job to make mealtimes “right”? I grappled with it for a long time because all the child rearing experts said this was the “right” thing to do. How could that be, I thought to myself, when every dinner meal was becoming miserable, something I dreaded. I was forcing my way on my husband and son. So, of course everyone was unhappy. I did not want to be the mealtime police! Was this really the way to teach my child social skills?
I decided to try a different view. I went to Walmart and bought TV tables, the nicest ones I could find, and hid them in the kitchen. I cooked up my best dishes that I knew they enjoyed one night without setting the table. When I called then to dinner, I said, “Guys, could you help me set these tables up in front of the TV?” Their astonished and happy looks were great fun to see. Any concerns I had about this arrangement dissolved when once the tables were set up, my husband Frank turned off the TV and said to my son, “Ryan, please say grace.” I was really worried that would go away if we watched TV and ate. Frank also made sure whatever we were watching was acceptable to me. We found science fiction was something we all enjoyed. And there was plenty of social interaction, mostly involving the plot. Since we were all watching something we enjoyed, there were no arguments. I made some compromises, and Frank gave back by honoring the things about meal times I thought were most important. Our meal times have been “just right” ever since.
Oh, and now a 17-year-old, my son has none of the disorders or problems those parenting experts warned against. He’s in the top 11% of his class, well nourished, is fun to talk to, and has a humongous loving heart of service.
I of the Storm has been quite a treasure trove for me. I found that conflict comes in many forms but always stems for me from not knowing my wholeness. This book contains valuable and effective tools to get to the heart of the matter. Next week, I’ll share how this book helped me with a conflict within myself long after the resolution of the dreaded dinner time.
But meanwhile, even if you have studied the book on another occasion, I invite you to consider studying it again. It really is one of “those” books, helpful no matter many times it is studied or read. Click here to learn more and register.