You know how you hear something, and then you keep hearing it from different sources in different ways and then you realize it’s something you to which you should probably pay attention?
I’ve had that experience lately.
It all started with this Polish proverb:
Of course this catchy little phrase is intended to remind the hearer that what they see might not be their problem.
If the circus master lets out his monkeys, he’s responsible to get them back under control and to make restitution for the damages.
If my toddler, child, tween, teen, husband, or co-worker loses their emotions, it is their responsibility to get them back under control. It is not my responsibility, though I may be willing to serve by helping them round their monkeys up!
It is not anyone else’s responsibility to control or repair the damage I do by letting my emotions run wild either.
That’s where the drama mama in me needs to be careful.
It is a lot easier to blame my adult temper tantrum on my kids because they’ve been naughty all day and gotten me into this foul mood.
It is a lot easier to hold my husband responsible because he was 15 minutes late and in that time the toddler had a potty accident, three children were injured in a brawl, and I angrily ordered everyone to their corners until “Daddy gets home to deal with you!”
See, I live in a fantasy world where I like to think I am responsible for other people’s monkeys, and where I’d like not to take responsibility for my own.
My husband constantly has to remind me I am responsible for my own faithfulness in parenting/ministry/friendship, not for the results.
On the other hand, I resent being pulled into the drama of others. I need equally frequent reminders to remain an objective third party… when I am, in fact, a third party. 🙂
So over the past few weeks, since I stumbled upon this Polish proverb, I’ve been reciting “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” when I am tempted to try to control others. I’ve also had to recognize when I let my monkeys out and recite, “Master my monkeys! This is my circus.”
Mostly, I’m learning to focus on my own holiness and learning to live like Christ regardless of who’s monkeys are on the loose. I guess you could say I’m learning to walk in self-control and wisdom.
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
— 2 Timothy 1:7
Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
— James 3:13-18