What Lies Beneath?
By Kathryn Taylor
I’m reading a Lamplighter book called The Giant Killer. It’s a story about a family who takes in two rotten twin boys because the father is going to tutor them. One of the daughters, Bertha, is upset about how these boys have disturbed the peace of their home. One day, Bertha was telling her mother how rude and selfish the Probyn twins were and her mother was challenging her about her own selfishness. Bertha could not understand because she was, overall, a kind, loving, sharing child...
“ ...“Mamma! What do you mean?” said Bertha in surprise.
“I believe, I am convinced, that you would suffer far less from the conduct of these boys if there were not something in your own nature of the same quality which you so strongly condemn in them.”
“I never thought that you would have accused me of selfishness!” said Bertha, with a good deal more of sullenness in her tone than might have been expected from a child so well brought up.
“What makes you feel so extremely annoyed when your pleasures are interfered with, your little amusements interrupted, your time broken in upon, your things wanted from others?”
“No one likes to be put out of their way,” replied Bertha.
“No one likes it, my love; and selfishness is a quality to which, I fear, very few indeed are strangers.”
“My brother and sister do not think me selfish- I would do anything for them.”
“You love them, and love makes all things easy; besides that, it seems to me that they seldom put your self-denial to any great trial. To attend your brother, to work for him, to carry out his little plans, has been your greatest amusement; and as for Laura(her younger sister)” – the child had just left the room to bring her forgotten spelling-book- “She is such a sweet-tempered little creature that there could be no merit in showing kindness to her.”
“Then why are these boys brought here to make me selfish when I was not so before?” cried Bertha, with bitter emotion. “They seem to have brought all sorts of evil with them-even Aleck (her brother) does not appear the same that he was-he is not half so much with his sisters; they are filling my heart with such angry feelings-I shall never be good while they are here.”
“They are teaching you to know yourself, my Bertha. They are not causing the selfishness in your soul; they are only tearing away the veil which prevented you from knowing that it was there. A gilt object may appear as well as a gold one until it is tried in the fire; it is the furnace of temptation which proves of what metal we are made. A lake looks clear and pure while perfectly still: the oar which stirs up the sand from below is not the cause of the sand being there; it lay in the depths before, like evil in the depths of our hearts.”
Bertha heaved a deep sigh. “It is very painful to find out that we are so much worse than we thought ourselves,” she said.
“The discovery is painful, but very valuable. You would not go to meet an enemy blindfolded? You must see him before you can fight him; you must know your faults before you can subdue them.”...”
taken from The Giant Killer, 2004 by Mark Hamby, Lamplighter Publishing, Lamplighter Rare Collector’s Series, literature from the 17th,18th, and 19 century.
This really struck me as I thought back to how my twins made me feel in the heat of our RAD battles. I thought very much like Bertha did, that these kids made me a crazy, angry, psychopath,instead of the kind, loving mom I always saw myself as with my other kids.
It was true!!! It is not until we are put through the fire to see what we really are. Like, in the dating phase of a relationship….everyone on their best behavior. But, when we have been married a while, take each other for granted, act selfishly, etc... how do we treat each other then?? What about you? Is there someone, or a group of someones, that bring out the “uglies” in you? Do you take responsibility for your reactions, or blame them? It is very understanding to be so upset with a person that does everything possible to push your buttons or not cooperate...
The upside is this... It puts so much control in my court. I am responsible for what I do and how I act. It is my frustration… my disappointment... my grief... that I must be in control of, no matter how out of control others around me are. It is about my character flaws and strengths. It is about me... I remember how nightmarish it all was. I remember how it would never end. I also remember how much I blamed their behavior for my own responses. It could have been different. They might have turned out the same, but I would have been a different person... a better person. I still can be... you can be, with the help of God. He is on our side because we love Him and wish to follow and obey His laws and teach our children the same, or to make a difference in the life of someone who is very difficult to deal with.