Day 29 in Proverbs
One of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories is The Zax. Oh, if you haven’t read their story lately, you should. (In my opinion, all adults should read Dr. Seuss on a regular basis.)
As the story goes, we have one Zax who travels north and one Zax who travels south, and at some point they meet on their journey. Neither is willing to make one step in the other direction to make way for the other. So they stand there, fighting, keeping their position, when a whole highway grows up around them. They waste their lives standing their ground. This battle becomes more important to them than anything else in their lives.
I have Zax tendencies. In other words, I can be stubborn. Probably why this is one of my all time favorite Dr. Seuss stories. I think I noticed it the first time I read the story. And learned from it. From time to time that image of the Zax standing there with the highway around them comes to my mind…. and I realize I am just like them.
It’s good to stick to your guns sometimes. There are some issues that are important and sometimes we need to fight for them to the death. But way too often the issues that we dig our heels in about are not really battles we should continue to fight. In doing so, we lose the war.
I think we’re all pretty stubborn in our own way. Some very overtly so, others more subtly. I have noticed that quiet stubborn people are sometimes the most stubborn people of all. Sometimes you don’t even notice how deeply their heels are entrenched!
How do we know when we’re wrong about being stubborn? Consider that the answer to that question is probably most of the time. Ask yourself a few questions.
- Is this situation all about me?
- Am I treating this situation as if it were all about me?
- What do I/we gain if I win here?
- What do I/we lose if I win?
- Is winning the argument worth the cost of losing the relationship and/or the respect of others?
I like using the terms winning and losing when talking about stubbornness, because I think it becomes a game to us. Sometimes we don’t care about the issue all that much….we just don’t want to lose the game. Often it is all about selfishness….and we are just being a pain in the rear to those we “love” because we can. And as you know….usually it’s those we “love” that get the brunt of our obstinance, though it can also be those at work, in a restaurant, at church, or anyone we run into in the course of our day.
Sometimes as we are inwardly gloating that we are once again getting our way, we find we have pulled out the Jenga piece that collapses our tower and our life as we know it has collapsed all around us. Often it’s too late to rebuild at that point. When this happens, we can only blame ourselves.
My niece Addison was commenting on the Zax recently and said “Why didn’t they just leapfrog?” Definitely a valid solution! Or why didn’t one just step aside and say “Have a great journey”, mean it and whistle as they walked away? Because their whole life had become about traveling North or traveling South…..regardless of how much they missed. Should that really have been their life’s mission?