My friend’s walkway was broken. It wasn’t it wasn’t anything too serious; there were just some loose pieces of flagstone that needed to be reset. It’s something I know how to do and she accept my offer to fix it for her.
A little while later I texted her to set up a time to do the work and she responded that someone else was able to do it – I wouldn’t need to worry about it. Let me set that stage a little better. It’s summer in Texas . The heat index is approaching 115 degrees. This is a messy job cleaning up old stones, mixing concrete and mortar and carefully leveling the stones into place. I’ve just been told someone else will do it and my response: it hurt my feelings.
My question to myself at that point was simple: Why did I all of the sudden have an emotional connection to this sidewalk?
Fortunately, the friendship is such that I was able to tell her what was going on inside my head (without her finding it slightly ridiculous). In talking through it we came up with several reasons for feeling the way I did. One was that “Acts of Service” is one of my two primary love languages and I was disappointed in a lost opportunity to speak that to a friend. Another idea was that the lost opportunity injured my need to be needed. This thought pushed me to see value in the friendship on its own merit, without need of earning it. Both of those were absolutely true and contributed greatly to my response.
A third thing that occurred to me was that the sidewalk was something I had the ability to change. In this journey out of codependency, I have frequently prayed the Serenity Prayer, both personally and in groups. If you’re not familiar with it, here is the short version:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Granted it doesn’t take a lot of courage to fix a walkway, but those who have been down this road before me would likely agree that we spend much more time accepting things we can’t change than we do finding courage to change things we can. It’s a byproduct of the fact that there is more in our lives out of our control than there is under our control. That can be both a liberating and discouraging part of any recovery process, regardless of what one may be recovering from.
Being told that someone else would fix the flagstone forced me to move the project from the “courage to change the things I can” category to the “accept the things I cannot change” category. The emotions I felt might seem petty when they were just about landscaping, but became more relevant when I saw them in the context of all the other “accepting” that has had to happen in my life lately.The story has a happy ending: I was able to work on the walkway and had some great help getting it done, and my friend graciously heard the message that act of service was intended to send.
Change managed (heart and stones)!