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Friday, December 2, 2016

How do I Love Thee - Give Me A Minute

Rants can be cathartic.  Allowing for pent up emotion to flow out from the brain through the fingers and onto the virtual page can relieve stress.  Putting pen to paper, either figuratively or while clenching a #2 pencil in a white-knuckled hand, can often make it unnecessary for the object of frustration to be subject to a tirade.

In the past I have allowed my rants to be published, causing harm that far outweighed my need to be heard or validated.  My hurt feelings might have been relieved.  The damage my expression did was incalculable.  This taught me a valuable lesson, estranged me from beloved people and humbled my spirit (which needed humbling).  Not every thought I have has to be expressed for all to hear.  Not every hurt feeling or observation of another's behavior needs to be aired to the world.  It is perfectly acceptable to keep one's thoughts to oneself, no matter how frustrating or painful it may be to do so. It is also okay for others to not tell me every dang thing that crosses their mind.  I don't have to know everything about you in order to love you.

But we sure resist that idea.  "You are only as sick as your secrets", we declare, sitting in the rooms of 12 Step Programs across the continents.  "Be honest with each other" is out battle cry as we wave the banner of True Relationships and Mental Health.

It gets me to thinking:  is it always necessary for you to know all my feelings in order for you to feel you know and love me?

It is better if I assume that all human beings have crosses to bear rather than for me to know all those individual crosses?  Can I extend you mercy without having to know that you suffer in a specific way or is having that information the foundation of my ability to love you?

I have often been told what my motives are, what I am feeling and what I mean when I say something.  Usually the person expressing that information is way off the beam but they are basing it on the information I give them.  They look at how I walk, talk, my mannerisms and the toss of my head when I speak and they leap to conclusions about everything from my education (or lack thereof) and my political ideas.  Usually the person making the assumption is wrong.  They have heard something in my tone, discerned something from my choice of verbiage or made a determination based on my skin color, size and gender - and almost always, without a doubt, they are wrong.

The times I found it necessary to let the entire world know how I felt about someone else's behavior, I was usually wrong in my characteristic of their actions.  I got my feelings hurt, I made assumptions, I voiced them and caused more damage.  It does not surprise me when other people do the same thing.

Still, it gets me to thinking....

In the prayer we use in my 12 Step Program to facilitate the 11th Step Meditation, there is a line that reads something like this:  Lord, let me strive to understand rather than be understood.  If that is my daily goal do I need specific information about you in order to reach it?

I want to say yes, because honestly if I have that information it becomes easier for me to understand you.  Yet no where in that prayer, or any other spiritual writings, can I find anything that says, "as soon as you know your subject, you can start to love them".  Rather, all the teachings I find tell me to love and respect and honor another based on one thing:  they exist, and therefore they are worthy of love, respect and honor.

If I make the decision to love, respect and honor you simply by virtue of you being a creature of the Creator I am making great strides towards knowing the real you.  I don't have to have a complete list of faults and assets, though that might make it easier for me to be your spiritual director or your 12 Step sponsor, for me to know and hold on to the most important fact about you - the only one that matters.

You are a child of the Eternal God.

Here's what's cool about this - you don't even have to BELIEVE you are a child of God in order for me to treat you with the love, respect and honor you deserve from me because you ARE just that; in other words, this particular reality does not require that you acknowledge it in order to be reality.  Just as a bridge does not need me to believe it is a bridge in order to get people from one side to another, you are one of God's children whether you like it or not.

So here is the deal - I may not share everything about my life with you.  You may assume all kinds of things about me based on what you do know about me - my size, my hair color, my ethnic background, my religion - and I cannot stop you from doing so.  However, if you make the assumption that I am a certain way and lock your belief system down so tight that nothing will change your view there is a really good chance you are going to miss the boat.

I don't want to miss the boat today.  Today I am going to just assume you are what I know already to be true - you are a human being, a creature worthy of respect, love and honor - and I am going to act accordingly because that is what people like me are required to do.

If I get hurt, so be it.

Have a FABULOUS weekend!  GO NINERS!

1 comment:

R.L. G said...

Everyone has secrets. Presumably, everyone in the rooms are sick, but in recovery contingent on the maintenance of their spiritual condition; a terminal disease in conditional remission. You may have to spend a lifetime with a person to really get close to the frontier of “knowing” them. We are full of surprises, even after years of relationship. I know that other people I know have certain expectations of me, based on what they know of me, and for the most part, they “get” me. These days I try to talk to the actual person I am in relationship with, not the model of them carry around in my head. The interesting part is what those surprises mean in the relationship. Heretical opinions and questioning orthodoxy were some of what the old timers told me to steer clear of in the beginning. For a long time, I thought that meant stay clear of them “forever.” But that introduces another problem later on, a kind of dogmatic wall that I did not approach and therefore did not investigate, which pitted my conscience with my intellect. This is a kind of blindness that can cripple further development, and flies in the face of “to thine own self be true.” Maintaining contact with a sponsor who has “been there” can help immensely.