“I did it My Way”

Good ol’ Frank Sinatra made this song famous even if Paul Anka wrote the words. He really did it his way.

I read up on his relational disasters this week in Wikipedia and went from amusement to amazement to outright incredulity in around five minutes. You want to talk about a screwed up mess! Makes me feel better about my own marriage.

Marriages, affairs, cheating, divorce, separation, mistrust…. he sure did it his way! As I was noticing the overlapping years involving different women I couldn’t help feel a bit sorry for him.

“Let me get this straight, YOU feel sorry for Frank Sinatra?”
Yeah I kind of do. All his life bouncing from one (or two or more) relationships to another (or two or more) and he never understood that what fuels love in a marriage is its exclusivity.

I’m all about individual achievement and pushing the limits of what has been accomplished in the past, but to say “I do everything My Way” one has to actually wonder if anyone in Frank’s circle bothered to look at the fruit falling from the tree? The relational fruit was pretty rotten. I can’t imagine lying on his deathbed and saying “Sure glad I did it My Way” when his own kids weren’t there in the end even though they were nearby (due to awkward relationships with the one he was with at the time). I don’t care how much stuff I have in my house if my own kids aren’t there, but maybe I’m old fashioned?

Self Will is defined as “stubborn or willful adherence to one’s own desires or ideas”.
Willfulness is “a steadfast adherence to an opinion, purpose, or course of action in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion”
And I think this would accurately describe Mr Sinatra.

I also thinks this accurately describes us and gets us into trouble. If you’re having discipline problems with a child, for the love of heaven don’t ask anyone with well-behaved children for help! Too close to home? Ok…thinking… if your husband doesn’t understand you, why on earth doesn’t he talk to someone who could help him express himself and begin communicating properly? If we are constantly stretched financially we tend to close the doors and windows of our house and suffer in silence while continuing to hurt ourselves by our lack of financial acumen. In addressing several of these issues maybe something has come to your mind in your own life? Repeated changes of employment, a never-ending string of broken friendships, betrayal, loss, mistrust. Or that tiny issue that you just wish you could deal with once and for all?

The problem is a scary one… YOU are your own worst enemy and have a heart problem. I don’t mean the sissy “don’t hurt my heart” thing (just to keep the males in the convo:), I mean you have a problem inside. Your brain informs your hands what to do. But your heart or sometimes what you believe about yourself tells your brain what to think. Now I’m all for retraining your thinking to get better results and I understand that what you feel comes from what you think, but this is a tricky little situation because it happens before that.

YOU shoot YOU in the foot. It doesn’t make sense. You don’t want it to happen but to quote Radiohead “you do it to yourself, you do, and that’s what really hurts is you do it to yourself, just you, you and no one else, you do it to yourself..” (from the awesome song Just).

Some people I know pride themselves in being brutally honest about flaws they see in their own lives. As commendable as that is, there is a very important bridge that needs to be crossed for that to reach fruition and actually become something tangible. The bridge is really a question: “What about the things I don’t see?” When the possibilities of the unknown saboteur come on your radar you tend to start looking in very alarming places. Like inside of your own self.

Nobody with a healthy self esteem makes a mistake and immediately says “Wow! What an incredible idiot I am! I think you’re absolutely right and I’m wrong!”. If all the idiots in your life ever once thought to themselves “What if I stopped acting like an idiot….?” don’t you think they would change?

The answer is actually NO. You might be able to change things and that’s great but what about the stuff that you don’t WANT TO change? And therein lies our problem.

We want what we want. Something inside of us is demanding its own way all of the time. It looks different in different personalities but we all share an amount of self will. Sadly our society prides itself in relationally suicidal tendencies. You can insist on getting Your Way everywhere you go and watch as everything you love is torn out of your life eventually. “Don’t control me!” is normally how we cover our retreat from the ways of wisdom as what we really mean is “I’m in control and know what’s right for me!”

Oh the illusion of control and the beauty of Idiocy! We can watch fifteen family members destroy their relationships with willfulness and think we can employ the same principles and be the exception!

Self will is like stepping on a rake. If you are in the habit of self will you have a lot of rakes in your yard. I grew up with farm kids and I noticed that they would always walk over to a rake in a yard and turn it over. When I asked why, they smiled and replied “Step on it and see”. So I did. That’s the type of kid I was. Even in super slow-mo I still bonked myself in the forehead. My own momentum worked against me. I was my own worst enemy.

As hard as making mistakes or failing is, it seems to be the only (or maybe best) time to realize the real issue underneath may be self-will. You don’t think you have it when everything is working for you, or maybe you don’t care? You might even admire how your self-will got you where you are. When things start not working it can become a subtle shift from your problems being your problems to “my problems being that person”.

Again, I’m all about applying yourself to the best of your ability, but there is an element of SELF that needs to be confronted over and over. Who are you living for? Who do you exist for? Is it to “get yours”? Are you living for you? You will surely regret this poor lack of understanding even if you get everything right along this track. But who cares how you did if you were wrong about the entire premise in the first place?

More accurately how can you be right when you forgot that your own worst enemy could be YOU?!

Willingness = DOING JUST WHAT IS NEEDED in each situation, in an unpretentious way. A wonderful outcome of Willingness is Effectiveness. (Brent Menninger)

“Dialectical Behavior Therapy  (Linehan, 1993) includes the concepts of willingness and willfulness.  Linehan defines willingness as accepting what is and responding in an effective and appropriate way. It is doing what works and just what is needed in the current moment or situation. Being willful means the opposite, not accepting what is and not responding effectively or appropriately.
Linehan bases her view of willingness and willfulness on Gerald May’s work. May says that willingness/willfulness is “…the underlying attitude one has toward the wonder of life itself. Willingness notices this wonder and bows in some kind of reverence to it. Willfulness forgets it, ignores it, or at its worst, actively tries to destroy it.”
Whenever you say something “shouldn’t” be the way it is, and refuse, in ineffective ways, to accept the way that it is, you are being willful.  When you refuse to participate even though that is not an effective stance to take, you are being willful.” (Karyn Hall PHD in an article called Willfulness)

Wow. Guess I’ll end with that..

 

Corey Kope

Pastor. Father of 4 beauties. Devoted husband, Liverpool fan, and Jesus follower.

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