Wonderful life lessons can come from anywhere. Sometimes they come from pretty strange places.

My kids and I are watching Bates Motel, a TV series on Netflix. It is the story of how Norman Bates, the freaky murderer in the old movie Psycho, came to be how he was. Its pretty graphic at times, they throw in some humor and it can get really intense.

I have a new favorite character in the show. His name is Chick and I hadn’t really liked him before.

In the episode I am referring to, Norma Bates-one of the lead characters, had a beautiful stained glass window that someone had broken and she wanted it repaired back to the way that it had been before. Chick comes back with a design for the window that was different from the original window and he says,

“It’s for me to be inspired by that work and then create something else that has its own life and purpose and integrity and… and reason for being.”

Often when we feel like we have been broken in some way, we want to go back to how we were before. We want to forget what happened and bring back the previous beauty that we feel like our lives held. Chick says this about changing the design,

“Yeah, see, the light in your house, it narrows, right? So the… the light will bleed through this design a little more kindly.”

What a beautiful thing. That something can seem broken but come out on the other side better. I love this and I love that it comes from someone that I didn’t particularly care for. We can learn from people we don’t like.

Chick talks about integrity. He tells Norma he lied to her.

“I have this thing. It’s like my mantra. I never want to be out of integrity with myself. That’s my thing.”

Then he tells her a truth she doesn’t want to hear and shortly after that he asks her,

“Do you want to be out of integrity with yourself Norma?”

What a beautiful question. Life becomes easier if we look at issues from the standpoint of living in integrity with ourselves.

I have often done what other people want. I tend to put other peoples needs before my own.

I recently had an opportunity open up for me. It wasn’t a sure thing but I was excited. Oh my gosh I was excited. I really wanted to do this thing. It seemed perfect for me. This opportunity started this weekend and would have gone for 10 more weeks and you aren’t allowed to miss any of the time. It ran Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

I have a son in prison and I am supposed to go visit with him this weekend. He has been in there for quite a while with no visitors and finally he wants some. He has been in prison before and wouldn’t let me come visit. I had wanted to see him. I really wanted to go but he didn’t want people to see him in there.

When my son was out of prison he rarely called or visited with family. A lot of times he said he would call or come by and I wouldn’t hear from him for months. He has hurt a lot of people. Now that he is in prison he is sad and lonely and wants visitors. And the only days that we can visit are-Friday, Saturday and Sundays. I started feeling frustrated and a little resentful. I would have to give up this opportunity if I went to see him.

Do I always need to put other peoples needs before my own? Can’t I put myself first sometimes? Have his actions earned me dropping opportunities to go be with him?

I didn’t want to let him down. I don’t want him to feel like no one cares but I also am at a point in my life where I have to feel like my needs are important too. That is something new for me. I was pretty conflicted.

I didn’t want to go visit him but resent what I gave up and I didn’t want to tell him that I would go as soon as my course was over-but then feel guilty during something that I should be totally immersed in and enjoying.

And then I asked myself, “How do I handle this and be in integrity with myself?” And with that question in mind the answer became clear and easy.

I will do the course another time and go see my son in prison. I am not doing it because he wants me to or because I think I should. I am going because I am a compassionate person. I can alleviate some of his suffering. I will be glad that I went. The change in perspective made all the difference.

I have a new “thing”, a new mantra. I never want to be out of integrity with myself.

Thank you Chick.