Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2001 / 13 Teves, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

The Way Things Work -- I keep a running list of things that don't work on the refrigerator door. It presently includes the kitchen junk drawer which is off the track, the back porch light and several shirt-tail relation. Because life is filled with things that don't work, I am intensely interested in things that do work.

I've decided to make a list of things that do work and stick it on the refrigerator, right next to the list of things that don't work.

Things That Work:

1. Watching your mouth works.

Most of us watch our mouths pretty well until we get our nose bent out of joint. There are times when it would feel good to cut loose and let 'er rip, but it usually works best to bite your tongue. Being irreverent, obnoxious and using foul language is trendy these days, but people who can control their mouths go further than people who can't.

2. Boundaries work.

These days, a lot of parents are afraid of their kids. They're afraid to set any boundaries or ever say no. This is what leads to the inmates running the asylum. That's too bad, because boundaries not only ensure children's safety, they help them feel loved and secure, knowing that someone cares enough to set a standard. Once in awhile you hear a young person say that he or she wishes a parent had set more limits. Unfortunately, it's usually a kid behind bars who may not get a second chance.

3. Expecting hard times work.

One of my favorite Bible verses is in the book of Job, chapter 19, verse 25... "But as for me, I know that my redeemer lives; At the last He will take His stand on the earth." Tragedy had struck Job from every side. He had lost it all: livestock, crops, livelihood, children -- everything but his wife, and she wasn't exactly a warm fuzzy. Job didn't understand what had happened to him. He couldn't make sense of the loss and the grief, he found no comfort in his friends and for a time, the voice of G-d fell silent. Yet through it all, Job did not curse G-d. Job had a different mindset, a mindset that refused to question G-d despite wrenching circumstances.

Life works better when you expect that difficulty and upheaval will be part of the journey. Too many people suffer from a Disney vision of life where the boy gets the girl, they ride off into the sunset in a SUV, buy a fantastic home their first year in the workforce, have perfectly healthy children who make straight A's and live happily ever after. Things works much better when you expect that life will be a mix of peaches and pits.

4. Saying "I'm sorry," works.

Forgiveness may work more wonders than any other force on the face of the planet. Yet the person on this earth I find it most difficult to utter those two little words to, is the one I love the most - my husband. Saying "I'm sorry" acknowledges that I can be a jerk. Life is so much better when I go around thinking he is the only one who can be a jerk. Which is probably why I'm prone to saying things like, "Sorry you misunderstood," or "Sorry you took that the wrong way." Offering a sincere apology to your spouse not only works, it can sometimes work miracles.

5. Friends work.

One good friend is worth six professional counselors. The best friends are the ones who listen to you rant and rave and never a repeat word. They emote and empathize and speak up when it looks like you're veering off course or taking yourself too seriously. Life wouldn't work without friends.

I've only squeezed five things onto my Post-It, but still, it's good to take a breather and think about what works. Now, if I could just do something about that drafty kitchen window.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman