He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.
The need to be right is so intoxicating and so poisonous.
How easily we can be hurt—especially by those we love the most—and when we feel we've been judged too harshly, how quickly thoughts pour into our head about how right we are and how wrong they are. Our capacity to lash out and hurt others is far greater than we'd like to think. It has happened to me, and I'll bet it's happened to you. I'm ashamed to realize how quickly I can start wallowing in the mire of this toxic downward spiral.
The wonderful poem above by Edwin Markham—”Outwitted”—is a beautiful antidote to the poisonous thoughts and can be used to break that spiral. It calls us to let go of the need to be right and re-draw the circle of love to make it wider. The peace that comes from making that choice is indescribable.
In Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, Henri Nouwen shared wisely, “Whenever we move beyond our wounded selves and claim our God-given selves, we give life not just to ourselves, but also to the ones who have offended us.”
To paraphrase some advice my wonderful sister gave me one time, “Take the high road. It may involve a lot of arduous climbing, but the view is magnificent…”
Books by Henri Nouwen are marvelous additions to anyone's bookshelf of spiritual books. Click the link below to find Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith.