Thoughts to Ponder

“Burn every bridge but love.”

Martha Beck*

That statement shook me to my center when I first read it. Does this mean I cannot feel anger, frustration, disappointment…? Do I need to turn into a Dalai Lama clone overnight.

Not at all. We have a range of emotions for a reason. We’re born with them and we need to know how to use them for our highest good. Let’s look at an example:

The city announces it is going to build a highway through our neighborhood. Most likely, we are going to feel anger, resentment, a need to get even…. Are we going to act on those feelings? Or can we go to the next city council meeting to ask questions: who, what, when, where, why and how? We can ask questions in a respectful, yet firm tone and quietly listen to their answers. Or, we can yell and denounce the board before they have a chance to respond.

Which would gain us the greatest amount of information and understanding? Once we have that information we can begin to plan our route to stopping the highway. Or, we may decide their reasoning is valid and prepare to sell our home for the best price possible, which might be the contractor’s offer, and start looking for a new home.

You can see that at each step we felt the emotions, but responded respectfully. Or, we could have reacted angrily and felt every moment of stress (high blood, pressure, chest pains, headaches) until we give up the fight, or carry our resentment into our old age.

By facing the situation thoughtfully and acting respectfully to all concerned, we are showing ourselves love, as well as those responsible and our neighbors. Our resentment becomes acceptance. Acceptance becomes love.

Living in love does not mean that we won’t feel the normal emotions. It merely means that we examine and accept or change our situation as we are guided by our conscience. We take action according to what is the highest good for us, and others.

Spirit, Please guide me to look at the situations in my life as opportunities to grow into a better person. Show me how to discard old, and new, resentments and angers. And, so it is.

  • Compass Points by Martha Beck, July 19, 2018,

Anger or Acceptance

Thoughts to Ponder – July 24, 2015

 “When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.”

*Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

 Recently, I wrote a piece in which I described no longer feeling anger at a person who had wronged me. A friend challenged that statement, so today I am attempting to provide a fuller explanation of my thoughts.

Anger is a normal part of the human psyche. We all feel anger. We get angry at our family, jobs, the world situation and human behavior in general. There are so many things in this world that can trigger our anger button. Feeling anger is sometimes appropriate. It’s how we act on that anger that is right or wrong.

Do we shout and swear? Do we vow to get even? Do we stop speaking to that person? Do we refuse to see that person ever again? Do we carry our anger forever? I’ve seen all those reactions and done some of them. The results are always destructive rather than constructive.

Or we can focus our anger another way. If someone makes us angry, we can walk away and consider what triggered our anger. Was it really what they did? Was it a reflection of an old memory? Should we go back and apologize for our behavior? Should we just let the anger fly away in the wind?

Perhaps if our anger is at a larger situation we can become an active part of the solution. Are we angry that too many children can’t read? We can we become a reading tutor. Are we angry at a social situation? Perhaps we can take a page from Mahatma Mohandas Ghandi and lead a march to the sea. Or we can emulate one of his followers, Dr. Martin Luther King, and organize voter registration – still an issue these many years later.

I often get angry about my physical well-being. I’m not as strong as I’d like to be. I can’t do what I did when I was 18. I’m not really sick, but various restrictions and prescriptions make me angry. I’m learning a different tactic for this situation. Acceptance.

I can accept that the other person is not who I’d like him/her to be and move forward accordingly. I can accept that the world situation is not what I’d like to see and if I’m so moved, I can do as the bumper sticker says, “Think globally. Act locally.” Or “Imagine Whirled Peas.”

For many things in my life I live acceptance. However, yesterday my doctor told me to take yet another nutritional supplement, to temporarily forego donating blood, something that means a lot to me and to take yet another yucky test. I became angry. I did not accept her diagnosis and became what she called “cranky.” As the day passed, I realized that she was just looking out for my health. She didn’t tell me I had a horrible disease. She just told me to adjust my life a little for my ultimate good. I’m still not happy about taking yet another pill, but I’m glad it’s a supplement, not a medicine.

A friend recently told me how she recovered from a serious illness. She was following all her doctor’s directions, but feeling angry that she was in so much pain. Finally she reached a point where she said, “Okay, God, if this is to be my life, I accept it. Just show me where to go from here.” Amazingly, she began to heal immediately, a little at a time. She can now participate in activities that were once unthinkable. She’s not playing tennis yet, but she can do pretty much what she wants to do otherwise – work, socialize and just feel good.

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can, 
and the wisdom to know the difference.”**

© by Sharon D. Dillon, July 24, 2015

*pg 89, Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chapter X, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar”

**The Serenity Prayer, A Day at a Time in Al-Anon, 1987, Al-Anon Family Groups

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at