Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fence in fence out


My daughter Hilary is starting to understand the fences that we need in our lives.  She is a child who has always liked fences because they have made her feel safe but now she is understanding them.  (Click here to see her blog: "Looking for a Fence")

What I'm seeing in her blog that brings a lot of joy to this parent is that she now has taken responsibility for her own fences and is learning how to decide where to put them and maintain them.  Placing fences while maintaining plenty of room for growth and learning yet small enough to stay out of trouble and minimize temptations.

Fences not only keep us in but keep other things out.  Fences are necessary to help us determine how to act and respond to situations that come up.  Often the situations are surprises and need a ready made response.  I remember when I was a young man and President Kimball was the President of the Church.  He gave the youth the advice to make decisions about keeping commandments while we were young.  Decide not to break that commandment and then when the situation arises with an opportunity to break it then I am already prepared with my chosen response.  That tact has worked well for me and greatly minimized the pressure and momentary feelings that could have led me down unwanted paths.   

Fences can be comforting and provide a feeling of safety as well as a reality of safety.  If we place them well and they are strong and meaningful fences then we can go up to them and look over and be glad that we are inside where we are comfortable and free. 

There are some fences that can make us feel imprisoned and make us want out.  With those fences things look better on the outside and we don't like being stuck or imprisoned inside.  These fences can be made by others but sometimes are made by ourselves as well.  These kind of fences typically are made at a time in our lives when we are not fully aware of the consequences of our actions.  For example we can make choices that will imprison us literally and those fences would not be particularly comforting but will be stark reminders of our guilt and loss of freedom.  But there are choices we can make that will imprison us mentally, emotionally or even spiritually for a time.  Sometimes even another person can make choices that will imprison us emotionally for a time.  That last group can be especially tough. 

Here is an example from my life of when an emotional fence was built.  The consequences in this case are minor but they never-the-less are real.  In the first year of our marriage I was making a cake.  This was something that I had little experience doing but I was gladly doing it that day.  Maybe it was because Lisa was sick.  She was pregnant with our first child.  Midway through the making of that cake Lisa became more distressed and I postponed the completion of the cake, thinking I would finish later.  Before that day was done we were in the hospital and our first child was stillborn.  There was a lot of anguish and anxiety prior to that and the day seemed long and harrowing.  The result has been, for the last 25 years, that every time I contemplate making a cake the feelings of that day return and I have not even attempted a cake to this day.  I have managed an ice cream cake on a couple of occasions so all was not lost.  :)   

Things can happen in our lives that coincidentally get connected in our minds, maybe for the rest of our lives.  These connections can impact our lives for a long time and connections nor the impact are necessarily conscious.   

Sometimes our fences are not a response to choices but to circumstances.  Another person can impact us so severely emotionally that we build fences to protect us even when we do not need protecting or the situation doesn't warrant the fence.  Our choices can have an equally powerful emotional impact on us such that we can feel and be influenced by a decision, possibly one that seemed small at the time, for years to come.  As one example: choices that some people make to drive impaired whether from alcohol, drugs or texting or even anger can lead to catastrophes that will be a part of us for years. However if no catastrophe occurs we can repeat those dangerous actions maintaining the possibility of great harm. 

Our decisions in life are a type of fence.  Not just what we determine will be our limits and morals, but our daily decisions that lead to our reputation or our work ethic or even what we laugh at or do with our time.  Those habits and actions can fence us in by the perceptions or responses of others.  Nowadays things we put on the Internet can impact us and come back to haunt us.  Decisions we make can build or break down fences whether we want them to or not.

So the moral is, lets choose our fences wisely and find ones that are not just barriers but pleasant reminders of who we are and/or want to be and remind us of our goals.  Let's not inadvertently build fences that cause harm to us or others and become roadblocks in our lives.  If we already have destructive fences, let's dismantle them and move on.  Fences are great protections and can provide comfort and satisfaction.  Let us construct beautiful and helpful fences so we can grow to our potential rather than ugly destructive blockages that shunt us down twisted paths with ruts of regret. 

Here is an example of a mental fence in a quote:

Whether you think that you can,
or that you can't,
you are usually right.
-Henry Ford-

1 comment:

  1. I think the hardest part sometimes is identifying those fences that we've put up without even realizing it. It's nice to have loving family and close friends who can help us realize that...and even other people who may help us recognize them less gently, but whose pointing it out we can still benefit from


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