THE SECRET TO INNER PEACE * Is in your hands

eastwind journals


By Bernie V. Lopez,
Blogger / Daily Tribune columnist / ex- Inquirer columnist / healing ministry
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This story is inspired by an anecdote from the bestseller 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr. Stephen Covey.


Leila, 25 years old, was doing daily nursing-care home service for Jason, 82 years old. He was the crankiest man on the face of the Earth, at least, in the eyes of Leila, who was beginning to get a nervous breakdown.


He would curse and scream at her at the slightest mistake, watching her every move. She was his emotional outlet. He poured his misery, boredom and loneliness on her and made her equally miserable. Making her unhappy was his only attempt at happiness. He enjoyed seeing her squirm.


Leila nursed Jason three hours a day daily, changing his diapers, enduring the smell of urine. But it was the curses and screams which she could not take. By the end of the day, Leila was a total wreck, her hands trembling as she went home. She spent sleepless night staring at the ceiling in silent tears. She wanted to resign but could not afford to lose this precious job.


She went to the pastor for comfort. His advice was simple and short, “NO ONE CAN HURT YOU WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT.” The words echoed in her mind, but she did not understand what it meant. She was thinking hard in bed the whole night. Then it hit her like a thunderbolt. She stood up from bed and wept violently, saying aloud, “Yes, of course, no one can dictate my pain and joy except me. The key to my inner peace is in my hands.”


So she went to Jason the next day prepared. When he screamed and cursed, she simply smiled calmly. This got Jason’s goat. He screamed harder. She smiled harder. Realizing that he could no longer hurt her, and had no more power over her, realizing his anger was useless, he became depressed. It was his turn to get hurt and have sleepless nights, while Leila slept peacefully. The magic of a simple smile healed Leila totally and instantly. For a smile means forgiveness, and forgiveness heals.


From then on, Leila had kind gentle words every day, unmoved by curses. At first, Jason was silent, not knowing how to react. After days of turmoil and confusion, finally, he said the magic words that would also heal him instantly and totally, “I’m sorry.” If a smile healed Leila (forgiveness), an apology (humility) healed Jason.


He returned Leila’s smile with a bigger smile. The war was over. Peace reigned. Eventually, Leila and Jason became the best of friends. Leila gradually realized nursing care is not just a job but a way to love others. Jason realized Leila was not just a nurse but a dear friend. The secret to happiness is love and humility.


They spent many pleasant dinners together. Leila would bring sea food linguini pasta that she cooked for Jason. Jason would ask her to buy steak, and he insisted on grilling them in the garden.


LEILA. I notice you can walk and cook.
JASON. Yup. Suddenly, happiness brings back my youth.
LEILA. You have healed yourself.
JASON. Oh no, no, you have healed me. You started it all.
LEILA. Less work for me, and more happiness for you.
JASON. You said, we have the power over our joys and pains.
LEILA. Exactly. Hurt and happiness are a matter of will power.
JASON. No. It is a matter of heart power. There’s red wine in the cupboard, Leila.
LEILA. Oh, no, that’s bad for you. (Jason squirms). On second thought, its good for your heart.
JASON. Our hearts. (Leila fetches the wine. They have a glorious steak dinner in the garden.)
JASON. I was once a bank manager. But I was a ruthless slave driver. I was very unhappy.
LEILA. I’m sure you wish you are given a second chance.
JASON. Yes, but you can’t change the past, only the future.
LEILA. Now we are changing each other’s future.
JASON. We are changing each other, period.
LEILA. You know, Jesus told us to throw back bread to stone throwers.
JASON. Yes. At first, it sounds ridiculous, but later on ….
LEILA. Later on, it becomes a powerful weapon against hatred and un-forgiveness ….
JASON. A powerful weapon to achieve spiritual renewal ….
LEILA. For both stone thrower and bread thrower.
LEILA. Goodwill is contagious.
JASON. As contagious as hatred. I knew you hated me deep inside in silence.
LEILA. For a while. And you enjoyed it. (They laugh.)
JASON. Only for a while. Later, it consumed me.
LEILA. An insult is a double-edged sword. One blade faces your ‘enemy’, the other faces you.
JASON. So is goodwill. But it is no longer a blade but a rose petal.


Leila in turn shared her painful life as an unwed mother. Their talks, their sharing of joys of pain, were a form of spiritual healing. Jason’s constant deep depression for ten years vanished in the blink of an eye. They became the best of friends. Leila looked forward to being with Jason.


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