Knowing Better and Doing Better

In my last article, “JOY and SORE,” I wrote of the joy I felt deep down inside.  It was a joy that had been going on for several days.  That joyous feeling came to a train-wreck sort of a halt when I picked up the phone later that afternoon to hear that one of my sons was in the principal’s office.

As my son came home later that afternoon, he wouldn’t look me in the eyes, too ashamed of his actions.  No doubt he already had some idea of the impact his actions had had.  I felt sad and disappointed and he knew it.

The next morning, I decided he and I would watch some of Oprah’s LifeClass series on her new network OWN.  We watched a beautiful show on Finding Your Purpose.  We engaged in dialogue about what he truly loves to do and what brings him joy.

We followed that show by another LifeClass where the lesson being taught was, “When You Know Better, You Do Better.”  We sat and watched in silence, both sipping our tea.

When the show had ended, he was very clear on the message.  We discussed it at length and it was apparent that he felt truly penitent.

Later that day I wondered something.  Clearly, he already knew better.  If he hadn’t known better, he wouldn’t have exhibited the shame he did.  He wouldn’t have cried what I’d call ‘sorrowful tears that stung’.  He would have justified and made excuses.  But the thing is, he did know better.  Yet, he chose not to do better.

So here’s what I wondered: “Why, when we know better, do we at times choose not to do better?  Why do we repeat actions that we know to be unloving, forging ahead anyway?”

I believe there are many reasons why we do this, each different depending on the circumstance.  But in time, my hope is that we lessen the frequency of these blunders.  That we learn along the way and continue to grow from such experiences.

As much as I wanted to dole out severe consequences, I sat back and looked at the bigger picture, at what I know to be true.  I know him.  He is a good kid who made a poor choice, and truly felt remorseful.  This was not a repeat of some prior action.  So why pour salt on the wound?  He felt badly enough all on his own.  (That’s not to say he didn’t have certain privileges taken away; I wouldn’t be doing my job as a parent if he didn’t.)

Knowing Better and Doing Better.  Sometimes it takes a few go’s before we get it right.  But if you Trust, Trust that there is a bigger picture, a bigger Knowing driving what IS, I believe you’d concur we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be on our path.

It’s that Trust that gives me comfort.  It’s that Trust that I hope gives you comfort.  And although my son is young, and perhaps doesn’t yet have the maturity to fully understand the concept, I hope that in time he comes to feel that same Trust.

Trust on that level is Freeing.


  1. Bay says

    What a truly divine mother you are Leslie…how fortunate your boys are… what a difference you are making in the world – present and future! Love you! Bay

    • Leslie Green says

      Thank you, Bay. Some wondered how I could tell of my son being sent to the principal’s office. It’s life. It happens. And we deal with it. Thank you for not only understanding, but also for your loving comments.

      I love you too. ~Leslie

  2. Kathy Walden says

    I was just discussing this the other day and trying to understand it myself and I started wondering. What if we really don’t know better? What if we can state what we should do or how we should be and even tell others what it should look like but we still just haven’t gotten that final experience or aha moment that changes everything for us and now we actually do know better so we can do better? In other words we can state it out loud, we can understand it in our minds cause we have learned it, but we still just haven’t gotten ‘it.’ I wonder if when we finally ‘get it’, that is when we truly are able to do better. Does that make sense?

    • Leslie Green says

      That makes perfect sense, Kathy. And the delay in my response is because I’ve been thinking about the question you pose. A lot.

      I think of a smoker. He/she knows better. Perhaps he quit months ago, but he really, really wants a cigarette. He knows better, I believe he “gets it”, but he chooses to smoke anyway. He weighs his options and makes a trade off – and he does it on purpose, knowingly. That’s the thing with this great FREE WILL we’ve been given. :-)

      I tried to pick a concrete example to wrestle with on the smoker.

      Then, I thought of my son and what motivated his actions. It was part peer pressure (a need to appear cool), but also a need to stand up for ME, someone he was not about to let someone else say something ugly about.

      I thought about his actions. How he justified it in his head, knew he was doing the wrong thing, but chose to go ahead. I think he knew what he was doing was wrong, probably hoped he wouldn’t get caught, but nevertheless, he knew what he was doing, and took the risk because it was worth it.

      So the part of “getting it” I think translates to something different. I think the turning point in Knowing Better/Doing Better isn’t so much whether you one day “Get it”, but when you come to the realization that it *doesn’t matter*. (At least in this example.) Once my son realizes that it doesn’t matter what Little Boy A says about his mother having cancer and that it doesn’t matter if Little Boy B thinks he’s cool or not, then that’s when the shift occurs from Knowing Better to Doing Better.

      Hmmm Kathy, you got me thinking so much, I may just have to write about this topic some more….

      Keep your thoughts coming, PLEASE. It’s with YOU sharing that the rest of us (including ME) are able to learn and grow. Thank you for sharing.

      Love, Leslie

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