Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Was Wrong About Pollyanna

A prime example of a miracle worker is Pollyanna. The ego knows this, which is why she is constantly invalidated in this culture. She walked into a situation where everyone had been in a nasty mood for years. She chose not to see the nastiness. She had faith in what lay beyond it. She extended her perception beyond what her physical senses revealed to her, to what her heart knew to be true about every human being. It didn't matter how anyone behaved. Pollyanna had faith in the love she knew existed behind anyone's fear, and thus she invoked their love into expression. She exercised the power of forgiveness. Within a short time, everyone was nice and everyone was happy! Whenever someone says to me, "Marianne, you're being a Pollyanna," I think to myself, "If only I were that powerful."
~Marianne Williamson A Return to Love 

I must admit I caught the Royal Baby Watch fever last week. Okay, I didn't catch it, I sought it out, grabbed a hold of it, and didn't let go. I also admit I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to watch the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge marry. And I may also have had a breakfast party to watch the coverage of the wedding. So, naturally, I needed to see the baby hoopla all the way through. And not only did I need to see it, I shared excited emails and texts and phone calls with Kelly, Ashlea, Beth, Meghan, and Bridget for days leading up the birth. I even lured my life saving housekeeper, Krissy, to watch the blessed event along side me. She sat on my ottoman, dust rag in hand, unable to move from the television. We both swore we could see Will and Kate behind those closed doors of the hospital at least an hour before they finally came out. Every time Krissy tried to work again, she heard my call, this is it, I see them, this is it.

I hear a lot of complaints about the Royal Baby Watch. I hear it is a waste of time, a nuisance, a lot of pomp and circumstance over nothing, over something that happens every single day, all over the world. And largely, I see the point of said complaints. It is a lot of fuss over a very common occurrence, birth. But, at the same time, it isn't something that happens every single day. Yes, women birth babies and always have and all kinds of people marry, but what doesn't occur on a regular basis is positive, heart-warming, smile inducing, mood lifting news coverage. For at least the week that preceded the birth of Prince George, the headlines were all about a baby and a new family. The headlines were cheery and filled with positive messages. News casters and pundits didn't argue about politics or guns or right and wrong. Instead, there were moments of jokes, laughter, and agreement. The fights and the painful headlines ceased for a minute, if only for a few hours, they stopped.

Now, it doesn't mean the evil in the world took a breather, we just took a break from the obsession over the bad to focus on the good. People still died, wars still continued, and hearts still broke, but we took a moment to breathe and smile. The headlines were just a bit softer. The massacres, trials, and wars slipped in underneath and to the side. I do not mean to imply these atrocities should go unnoticed, but I do start to wonder about the intense focus put on them. And while the focus can be important, awareness is never underestimated, the problem lies in the obsession with the negative aspects. For example, today's headlines told the story of a man that held three young girls, now women, captive for over a decade and detailed the torture and life of horror he inflicted upon them. In the middle of the article, not the in the headline, there were a few sentences about the victims and their strength, courage, and willingness to persevere and refusal to give up hope. One victim, filled with bravery and light, even stated she forgives her captor because she wants her life back, the life she knew that was once filled with love. Along with this headline, there were stories of blood baths and riots and starvation from all over the world. Those that fight are plastered across the front and are mentioned at the top of the news stories. And there are always the headlines covering what one political party did to upset the other, what one politician said or did or didn't do. And one side thinks it is right and fights to be heard, but always argues it is a good fight because this is the right side. Fights, fights, and more fights. They always there, we don't have to find the words in the article, they are usually the headlines. The world has to stop fighting for a moment. We have to notice the helpers, the lovers, and the peacemakers. We have to see the good. I know I need to.

What if instead of these sensational headlines there were headlines that covered the helpers, the peacemakers, the lovers, and the hopers, the young girls who found freedom against all odds and choose love. I believe we could still tell the same stories, still share the same awareness, but just use a different perspective. A perspective filled with love, forgiveness and hope. This isn't a new idea. This movement, this way of thought has been used many times before with great success. Jesus, and Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jr. all used this approach and accomplished and still accomplish change that astounds and heals. Efforts to heal through peace and forgiveness and love doesn't mean excusing the wrong, it means looking at it from a different perspective. It means the choice to observe the evil with a new pair of eyes, a healing pair of eyes. One that doesn't need to be right, or bare the correct and mighty arms. It means reconciliation and an ultimate state of healing for everyone and everything. Miracles happen when the combat boots are made of love and the guns shoot forgiveness instead of bullets. This isn't some far out thought, we've seen these miracles happen over and over again all throughout history. Slavery is abolished, captives are set free, and forgiveness is granted and hope endures.

There are quite a few distractions desperately trying to throw me off course right now. I can easily revert to anger and depression and choose fear over love. And I have. There are some moments filled with tears and worry. It isn't easy to admit I fall short some days. It isn't easy to admit I feel like I just can't do it sometimes. But, I do. It may be far less common then it used to be, but it happens. I enlist many solutions to correct my thoughts, but always rejected one, the Pollyanna approach. I used to use it quite often. I refused to look at anything in a negative light and forced a smile. However, until just the other day, when I read Marianne Williamson's book for the umpteenth time, I never quite understood Pollyanna. I thought her story was just one of making lemonade out of lemons. I thought it was the story of agreement and pleasing others and smiling constantly. And over the years, I learned sometimes lemons are just sour and sometimes agreement to the detriment of myself, kills me slowly, a little bit at a time. I see now, I was wrong. The story of Pollyanna isn't a story of changing a situation into something it isn't, it is about seeing the beauty and wonder beneath all of the pain and anger. Pollyanna wasn't a pushover who took anything from anyone. In fact, she only took from people what she wanted to see. Pollyanna only saw what was important and what was helpful to growth and trust and compassion. She only saw what helped her feel more loved, more whole, more full of hope. She saw past the negative stories and made her own headlines. She saw what was best in others because she saw it in herself. Her smile wasn't fake or practiced, it was how she chose to see the world around her.

The headlines of my life are what I choose to write. I can water whichever garden I choose. If I want to sow seeds of despair, I can. If I want to sow seeds of love, I can. All along when I thought I needed to fight, I was really only learning to love myself more. I may have decided I was fighting for myself, for my life, but in reality, I was seeing the good and the worth and the pieces of myself that deserved love, forgiveness, and the chance to live. Sometimes, we do need a little happy. Sometimes we do have choose to see love instead of fear and find our inner Pollyanna. But mostly, we have to write our own headlines and our own stories and not bury the goodness deep down inside where it isn't noticed. Because when we see it in ourselves, we see it in others. Stories of hope, stories of love, they are all addicting, and that's okay. Pollyanna might just know what she is doing.


  1. Love this post! And completely agree that the royal baby news coverage was a 'breath of fresh air' when compared to what we are normally hearing, day after day. Wish we could hear positive news stories like that more often.

  2. I love reading your posts, Sarah. Your insight really opens my eyes.


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