the parable of the toilet paper

You may or may not realize that I’ve had quite a lapse since I last posted a new blog – it’s not because I have no topics, it’s just that I find it more challenging to get to a computer and write and post online now that I’m living in Maryland with my grandparents for the summer.  But seeing how it’s the two-year anniversary of my blog, I thought I’d make special effort to get a post up, and hopefully I’ll get back into a more regular grove in the coming days and weeks.

My story today is about toilet paper.

When I arrived in Maryland, I discovered that the toilet paper here wasn’t quite as soft as I like.  I’ve always had issues with the coarseness or softness of toilet paper – in fact, during college, I purchased (or my parents purchased) my own toilet paper while I lived in the dorms so that I didn’t have to use the “half-ply” toilet paper, as I called it, that they supplied for us.  I verbalized to a friend my issues with this aspect my new home and was told that it sounded a little silly, and seeing as the person who pushed me is someone I respect, I decided to think a bit more about my situation.

What options did I have?  Well, I certainly could request of my grandparents to purchase some toilet paper more amiable to my desires.  I could purchase some of my own, to either place in the restroom for all to use or to take in and use when I went, as I did in college.  But none of these seemed to be quite right, at least not for the current, 26-year-old eric to undertake.

I decided that instead of changing the situation with the toilet paper, the other option was to change myself.  What if I was a little more careful in my use of this toilet paper, so it wasn’t as “damaging” as the previous experiences that had formed my opinions of thin toilet paper?  What if I adjusted myself  to the situation instead of trying to adjust the situation to my wants and desires?

So I changed my mindset, viewing this as a problem within myself instead of a problem with the environment around me.  And it worked.  (I probably wouldn’t be writing this if it hadn’t.)  I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with the toilet paper, and it still causes problems for me every so often, but I’ve realized that I had a lot to do with the problem in the first place—certainly more that I was willing to admit at the onset.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a parable if it didn’t have a meaning for us all.  How often, when in a situation of conflict or strife, do we blame everyone and everything but ourselves?  We rarely (if ever) take ownership of the part we play in a problem – and we always play some part in the circumstances of a problem – but instead we try to put the issue in someone/something else’s court.  “It certainly can’t have anything to do with me,” we say.  But it always does.  (There’s a rod in my eye when there’s a speck in my neighbor’s—something like that.)

Have you thought about your contribution to the conflicts in your life?  I’m not saying it’s all your fault, but until we recognize (and start to make amends for) how we’re creating the problems we’re involved in, true reconciliation cannot occur.  True rebirth starts from within.

(One great tool for personal growth I’ve recently dug deeply into called the Enneagram.  I’m sure your local library has one or more books on it, or surf the Internet.  I’d particularly recommend books by Don Riso for deeper applications, or The Enneagram Made Easy for a more simplistic look at things.  I think it’s pretty amazing!)

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!


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