December 16, 2009

Am I My Brothers Keeper?

Years ago, I made up a theory.

It is part armchair psychologist, part mom, and probably, part nonsense

. . . . it goes like this:


Photobucket


"The Bucket Theory".


When we are born, we all come with a bucket. Our bucket needs to be filled. Only good experiences, loving and nurturing, can fill your bucket.

Droplets are added with each kindness paid to you: diaper changes, hugs, tender words, and birthday celebrations. The level of your bucket raises when someone kisses your scraped knee, teaches you to ride a bike, reads you a bedtime story, or guides you away from bad influences. When you are a child, your bucket readily and rapidly accepts contents; the rate slows, as you move through your formative years. After maturity, your bucket level remains about the same; it becomes your emotional reservoir, tool set, unique outlook, for life.

If your bucket is full, you are confident, trusting and secure, with a realistic outlook and faith in mankind. In short, you are empowered to successfully navigate life.

There are some, like those severely deprived Romanian orphans (and my dog, Rembrandt, who was taken from his mother too early), who have very little in their buckets; and others, whose buckets are brimming. Most of us fall somewhere in between. My theory contends that, in general, our well adjusted behavior comes from what went into our bucket, and most of our issues, hang-ups and neurosis, are rooted in what did not go into the bucket.

Simple.

Except, we are all born with a unique spirit. Our spirit interacts with the bucket contents, creating varied, unpredictable reactions among individuals. Thus, the homeless child of an abusive heroin addict can, defying the odds, become a responsible, happy, contributing member of society. By the same token, some well nurtured individuals are a mess. However, these are exceptions to the general rule.

I developed this theory years ago and I, myself, have been the perfect proving ground. As much as I believe, and I do, in our ability to grow, repent, change and progress, I am still much the same person I was as a youth. Tempered by maturity, I still react the same way to criticism, I still like to be in charge, I still desire approval, and I am still a positive person whose realistic side, as I'll call it, occasionally has a bleak outlook.

After a certain age, it is time to accept what is in our bucket and own it. This is the time to release any blame we may be carrying; forgive, move on, and play the hand we are dealt. We must take responsibility for our own fate. After adulthood, change comes slowly; so we . . . . certainly I . . . . seem to deal with the same issues (weaknesses, neurosis, demons, slanted point of view, however you want to put it) over and over again.

Have I made it seem hopeless? Sorry, that is my realistic side talking.

Lest all hope be lost, I have found a remedy that works great, for me. It is found completely outside the bucket. The remedy is to utterly disregard what is or isn't in the bucket. Forget it.

Move on. You can't go back and fill it anyway.

Instead . . . . . . . . . . concentrate on filling the buckets of others.

Service. Love. Compassion.

Nothing sets me straight like getting outside of my little world and doing something for someone else. I can't say I am a shining example of giving service, I just know it works. It literally corrects my mood, heals my wounds and most importantly, places the contents of my bucket into perspective . . . . all the while, helping others. Win. Win. When I look around, there are limitless opportunities; dented, leaky, half filled buckets are everywhere. . . . we just have to be willing to think outside our bucket.

Then, the request to "feed my sheep" (john 21:17) isn't just about lending our help; in fact, when we bolster human spirits with clothing, food,comfort, or a listening ear, it is about filling buckets
. . . . . . even our own:

"as we give our love . . . we feast even more abundantly on the food of peace and joy"
(Barbara W. Winder Relief Society General President
)


Even if you find my theory (like a bucket) full of holes,

You have to admit, we can all use more peace and joy

. . . . and the Christmas season is a great time to spread some.

10 comments:

Cheryl Joy said...

I like your theory!

In a marriage and families course I took a couple years ago we discussed a similar metaphor... Everyone has a bucket. The bucket holds love and affection. People who were mistreated in life have holes in their bucket. So you can fill them up, but it's not long before you have to reassure them, because all the love and affection seeps out. Healthy people who were treated well lack holes and you can love them and show affection and they feel loved for long after that. Over the years, with consistent behavior and loving action, the holes can be filled. :)

The Chrissy Herself said...

Very well put, Mom... we have talked about this pretty extensively before (mostly in circumstances surrounding the weirdo's I would be dating at the time) and experience after experience has shown me there is a lot of truth to this.

Marci said...

You are so wise :-).

Brittany said...

And all this time I didn't realize you had come up with it yourself! Like Chrissy I have also heard you talk about buckets when referring to friends or boyfriends of mine. It rings very true, you oughtta write somebody important about it (no suggestions on who) and get your theory published!

Lynnie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very enlightening. Maybe I'll use it R.S. sometime. A couple of times in your blog, you've mentioned how you like to be in charge! I think that interesting, and I would like to plan on it being one our subjects of conversation when we get together sometime. ... Or maybe I'll just observe you in action!

Jennifer Gibbs Kambourian said...

What a beautiful post...I love your thoughts. It reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a friend who told me that he'd come to the conclusion that when all is said and done, what's important in life is to "help bear one another's burdens." In doing so, we help to fill and heal eachother's buckets. Your post also leads me to the thought of what a gift (a necessity) it is to have a Savior. There have been times when I've felt that my own bucket had too many holes for me to ever fill it up and keep it full, but part of the purpose of the Savior's atonement was to give us the blessing of healing our heart and our spirit of the inevitable wounds we each have, and that by turning to Him we also find healing of our own bucket. Thanks for bringing these lovely thoughts to us, especially at this time of year. Love, Jenn

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I married my high school sweetheart 34 years ago in the LDS Temple. I have 4 children (3 married, and a 14 year old) and 6 grandchildren. I lived my entire life in California, until 6 years ago. I now reside in San Antonio, Texas. The most important thing to me is my family; I have invested the most in them and it has paid great dividends. I love doing anything creative that beautifies my surroundings and I love nature. I minored in Art and majored in Interior Design at BYU, yet, my profession is a Tax Preparer.

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