This morning I had a conversation with my husband and a friend about a difficult situation I’m currently dealing with. Together, they asked some challenging questions:
Did I know for sure what was going on, or was I making up stories?
No, I didn’t know for sure, and yes, I was making up stories. And not just any stories–stories that intentionally cast the other person in the worst possible light, because I was angry.
Could I view this situation, and this person, with compassion instead of anger?
Yes, I probably could, I just didn’t WANT to.
As I sit and think about this, I’m forced to admit there is a part of me that wants to be angry and resentful. A part of me that wants to see the other person as my enemy, because if I see her as my enemy then I don’t have to put any effort into understanding her. I can ignore her, I can discount her opinions, and I can even (I’m ashamed to admit) justify hurting her from my own place of woundedness.
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” –James A Baldwin
Today, I am reminded of something I wrote two years ago:
People are hard to hate, close up. We can choose to love the person who hurts us, even when its hard, because people deserve to be loved and we deserve to be the kinds of people who love. This doesn’t mean we check our beliefs at the door. It means we find a way to connect while firmly holding our position and gently seeking to understand theirs better. It means being brave enough to walk through our own pain in order to understand theirs.
If I want to live a life of love and compassion and connection, then that work starts here. Here, in this place of anger and resentment, I must find a way to move closer, rather than further away. I must find a way to build bridges, rather than burn them. I must find a way of dealing with pain that softens my heart rather than hardening it.”
“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.” —Brene Brown
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” —Galatians 5:14