What is it about our own shadows that makes us feel we are better than another simply because we have not lived their life?
I hate them. You filth. You’re going to hell. Kill them all. These are the words I hear the people who are supposed to be my brothers and sisters saying to one another. These are the words that we use for people who don’t live life the way that we believe they should. We judge and we condemn and we pat ourselves on the back for doing “God’s work.” We sit in our living rooms and mow our lawns and play on our smart phones and pretend that we know what it means to suffer. We tell ourselves that we would never be in that position or make those choices, without knowing the pain and the backstory that another has already survived. We assume that a child who has been hurt was not being properly supervised, or an adult who is gay was not properly raised, or a human doing drugs has no morals or good inside. We decide for them that they are worthless – and unfortunately too many believe it and fall deeper into the mire.
What is there in these hate-filled words, in the strife that we stir up, in the darkness that we usher in with our actions, that even remotely brings the light of God to this world? What is it about our own shadows that makes us feel we are better than another simply because we have not lived their life? It is a disease, a plague, this Darkness of judgment and hatred that is winding its oily way through humanity. It is the insidious work of evil, and doing it “in the name of God” or any gods only solidifies its soul-eating grasp upon us.
So the next time that we feel justified in raining condemnation from our lips or keyboards, perhaps we should stop to think, “What is there in my words, in my actions, and in my attitude that speaks the love of God out into the world?” If the answer is not “EVERYTHING,” then maybe it’s better to keep our mouths shut and our typing fingers still. Rather than adding to the hostility in the world, speak words of hope. Instead of imagining violent paybacks, move with hands of comfort.
Shun the hate, Live the Love.
I can do this on my own. That’s what I tell myself. I can be strong enough, tough enough, and I can learn enough. When absolutely necessary, I can lean on my friends – just enough.
There are so many, many things to learn, and ways to learn them. Really more than one can learn in a lifetime. And more things to do than there are hours to do them.
So I learn, and I do, one little piece at a time. How to grow a garden – how to replace a floor – how to paddle up a river efficiently. Fixing a washer. Painting a picture. Writing my heart. Walking this path on my own, just a bit wiser or stronger with each footfall.
Sometimes I remember to lean on Jesus. More often, I put up a wall (as if walls can keep Him out), turning away, avoiding His gaze so that I don’t have to recognize my own weakness and how very, very much I need Him to carry me through. Forgetting – ignoring – the countless times He’s held me at the tumultuous crossing. Holding my breath as though I can hide from His love and understanding. Pretending I don’t feel Him beside me, waiting patiently – and perhaps somewhat aggravated – for me to acknowledge Him. To yield and accept, once again, the depth of His love for me, His broken child.
How does one understand the heart, much less explain it? The blanket statement “Everyone wants to be loved” just doesn’t do it justice. It doesn’t cover the nuances, the journeys, the heartaches and heartbreaks and effervescent explosions of infatuation. It doesn’t convey the quiet, comforting joy of a love well-lived and a life well-loved. There is so much more to the heart, a strength and fragility that co-exist in a precarious symbiosis of counterpoints: trust and trustworthiness; honor and understanding; encouragement and truth.
Human language is ill-equipped to truly express the depths of what is in the heart; this is why we use so many other mediums to say what words alone cannot. We turn to the rhythms and melodies of music. We capture snippets of beauty in photographs and strokes of a paintbrush. Perhaps we build, or design, or grow. Whatever our talent – nay, whatever moves us – we hold in our hearts. Hopefully we cherish it, nurture it, feed it with more of the same magnificence that lifts our spirits. Then we can send it out into the world, a little fuller, a little brighter, a little bit of heart grown bigger.
In this way, love – the love of a person for his fellow human – grows. If we all grew our own heart-source like this, there would be little room for anger and strife and war. If we all opened our hearts to shine our own special light, the darkness would be overcome. That is what the heart is – unveiled, unshrouded, unrestricted, it is our very own universe of unlimited possibility, created to be a light in this world.
You are the expendable.
You choose to embody love, kindness, and forgiveness as far as you can safely do so, and further than you should reasonably do so. You choose to consider others’ viewpoints. You think about how their lives may have led them to believe certain decisions were okay, or the only option available to them. You ponder the interrelatedness of people and events, and the ensuing results. There is little that you do not think about, for everything merits consideration. In the same way, everyone has worth and is worth considering.
Unfortunately, in being considerate of everyone, you find that others are not the same. Others will use and abuse, until you finally find the strength to say “Enough!” Not “Enough, the world is bad,” but “Enough, I am good, and there is no room in my life for liars and manipulators.”
It may be a lonely road, and you will undoubtedly have people – the ones who are accustomed to you being understanding and pliable – who become angry that they can no longer use you. You will have to re-establish those boundaries again and again. But you will stand your ground. You will withstand the tempest. Those who leave, you didn’t need anyway. Those who stay will have newfound respect for you, and perhaps begin to recognize the strength you held all along. They will begin to realize you are not expendable, but that you – your quiet strength, your belief in them, your ability to bend but not bend over – is vital not only to their lives, but to the well-being of the world.
Their realizations, their respect, will only validate a simple truth. Their opinions of you are extraneous. Your worth is in your Self, your Soul, who you were created to be – not in what others choose to see. You are not expendable.
You are irreplaceable.
I’m thinking of breaking all the mirrors in my house. Maybe all the screens, too. Heck, maybe I’ll just leave the house, and the town, and society. I’ll never measure up anyway.
At least, that’s what they tell me. Tell us. Because it’s the same message they’re giving you. Giving everyone. Probably even themselves. Possibly mostly themselves.
No matter what, we will never be “enough.” Not smart enough, pretty enough, fun enough, serious enough. For years, women have been told to worry about whether their butt was too big, and men, whether their belly was too round. That they had to pick clothes that emphasized a shapely-but-not-too-wide-at-the-hips figure. Now, thanks to idiotic media focus on things like the Kardashians’ anatomy, we’re supposed to worry that our butts aren’t big enough.
Don’t even mention breasts. There’s still plenty of film – digital, video, or still – dedicated to cleavage, and I have had to resign myself to the fact that no amount of padded-ultra-push-up-underwire-lift is ever going to make me look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Now, however, there is Continue reading “Mirror, Mirror”
I am moved by beauty.
The vibrant hues of a summer day, the iridescent majesty of snow-laden mountains, the ribboned depths of river-carved canyons
Crashing waves, foam flying, rocks standing stoic guard against the onslaught…looking glass reflections of sky and cloud on a quiet sea
Emerald grasses, rainbow gardens, fields overtaken by wild stampeding flora
Sparkling snow, shimmering rain, fog tracing its fingers lightly through moss and air
The scattered glitter of a nocturnal city – the deep, star-dusted blanket of rural nights – the quiet solitude of a thousand, thousand trees
An infant’s cry, soothed by a loving voice, and a child’s laughter, precursed by shining eyes
The soft fluidity of a dancer and the unspoken heartsong of melody
The joyous wonder of love’s first kiss…and the heartwrenching despair in its last
The shattered fractures of grief restored by tendrils of hope
Living’s truth, Devotion’s herald, Creation adorned by God’s tender fingerprints
I am moved by beauty.
Quiet solitude. A soft breeze, sun on my skin. Birds chirping, conversing about things avion – and perhaps the nature of the universe. Grasshoppers whiz by, their wings buzzing through the stillness. They say that air has no sound, but it does. It teases the grass and dances with the leaves on the trees. It toys with the edge of my paper as I write. It carries the myriad noises of this silence over earthen terrain to the welcoming ear. The soft rush, the sudden whoosh, the silken touch on sun-warmed flesh. Whispers of secrets…breaths of love…currents of tenderness under a tranquil sky. -KJ Roe