Archive | February, 2014

Easy to Love

17 Feb

you’d be so easy to love
so easy to idolize all others above
so worth the yearning for
so swell to keep every home fire burning for
and we would be so grand at the game
carefree together that it does seem a shame
that you can’t see your future with me
cause you’d be, oh, so easy to love
1936 – Cole Porter

Image

Let’s be honest. Even those we find the most loveable – our children, our spouse, our close friends – can sometimes do things to hurt us and make us wonder why we love them like we do. Love can hurt. So, what are we to make of the Biblical imperative to love our enemies? Our enemies?

Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (NRSV)

One of the best ways to be able to love your enemies is to not have any.

Seeing another as a foe gives all the power to that person. Surrendering the hurt, salving the wound, moving onward and upward, is spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthier. It can take time. It should take time.

Few among us have true enemies – a neighbor who is harassing us, an ex who is stalking us, a supervisor bent on preventing us from earning a living. Many of us have perceived enemies. Just because someone does not agree with you politically does not mean that person is necessarily your enemy. Just because you are no longer married to someone does not necessarily mean that person is your enemy.

Another word for enemy may be “other.” It is easy to love those like us. It is easy to love the familiar. It is more difficult to love the other – those not like us. Those who do not think like us. Those who do not live like us. Those who do not vote like us. Those who do not worship like us (or who do not worship at all).

If we are all made in the image of the Holy, how can we do anything but love one another?

We must learn to forgive ourselves and we must spread this forgiveness to others.

Hate, like envy, is counterproductive.

When faced with an adversary, I first try to determine where the person is coming from. Is it from a place of hurt? Of anger? Of ignorance? Next I try to depersonalize the situation. It is probably not about me per se; I just happen to be there. I listen before I speak. When you are listening, you are not thinking about what you are going to say. I try to find places of common ground. I ask questions to find out why the person believes what they believe. Is it due to some personal experience? Is this what they were taught?

If, after all this, we are still miles apart in whatever it is that makes us adversaries, that may be where we stay. That does not mean we need depart in a place of hate, however.

I am not naïve, nor have I been spared from some really nasty people, yet I do not hate anyone. To do so would be to remain a captive of those who have hurt me. I am not captive; I am FREE.

Dear Holy Mother & Father,

We know not everyone will be for us all the time. Help us recognize this and work together with those with whom we hold differences. Let us see the holy in one another. Help us love ourselves and forgive ourselves and help us love and forgive others.

Amen.

This post is part of the February Synchroblog: Loving Our Enemies. Please visit these other posts:

The Loneliness of Addiction

5 Feb

(Warning: addiction and depression triggers)

addiction

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman brought the usual spectrum of responses in cyberspace, some of which both angered and wounded me deeply. Among the responses I read:

  1. How selfish
  2. We all have the same demons, some people are just weaker than others
  3. Predictable
  4. He needed Jesus
  5. Why do people care what celebrities do?

I didn’t know Mr. Hoffman, but I know a bit about addiction. I am an addict. I’ve been addicted to drugs (alcohol, crank), sex, food, love, religion, drama, bad choices, pain, and many combinations thereof. I am still addicted to some of these things. I often say I am glad I was never a smoker because I believe that’s one of the most difficult addictions to break. I have been clean and sober for 25 years, 7 months, and 2 days as of this writing, one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time.

I am doubly blessed–or doubly cursed–depending on one’s perspective, to also have depression. In my case, there is a definite connection between some of my addictions and the depression. In my case, there is a definite biochemical component to both my depression and my addictive personality.

  1. How selfish.

    This is a common refrain when reading that someone has committed suicide or come to a bad end that was seemingly preventable such as in the case of a drug overdose. If you’ve never been suicidal, I can see where you might think committing suicide is selfish. Having been there, I can tell you it is not. It is actually a selfless act. When you are there, you think you are doing the rest of the world a favor in relieving the world of the burden that is you.

  2. We all have the same demons, some people are just weaker than others.

    This is laughable on many levels. The only truths in this statement are that we all have demons and we are all weak. The only reason these are truths is because we are all human. I am not into comparative suffering (i.e., a person who lives in a wooden shack in a third world country is automatically “worse off” than someone who lives in a mansion in Manhattan), and I am not a demonologist per se. Let’s just say we all have our struggles and our battles.

    Being an addict or being depressed are not signs of weakness. They are signs of medical conditions. This is despite what you may be taught at church or at school.

  3. Predictable.

    Some believe Mr. Hoffman was destined to die of an overdose because of some combination of his previous history of use and his celebrity. This does great disservice to those who have maintained sobriety as well as to those celebrities who do not have addiction issues. It is also snarky and pessimistic.

  4. He needed Jesus.

    This is the response I found most offensive, for several reasons. First, I doubt the authors knew Mr. Hoffman and therefore did not know his relationship with Jesus. Second, just because someone is an addict or is suicidal does not mean the person does not know Jesus. In fact, I would say that being an addict or suffering from depression as a Christian may be more difficult than it is for a non-Christian because of the judgment and stigma many Christians attach to it.

    People assume others use drugs or are depressed because something is missing and Jesus is the missing thing. This may be true for some, but is not true for all. You can no more pray away the addiction or the depression than you can pray away the gay.

  5. Why do people care what celebrities do?

    Many people do not. Those who take time to ask this question must on some level, otherwise why are they taking time to comment?

    People who care deeply about people care about all people, whether or not they know them personally. Such people care about the lost potential. Such people care about those left behind, particularly children. Such people typically grieve when natural disasters hit, even though they do not personally know any of those people either.

For me, at the root, my diseases of addiction and depression are diseases of loneliness. In my moments of greatest despair, I believe there is not one person on earth who knows how it feels to be me. There is not one person who hurts as much as I hurt. The world would be better if I were not here to mess it up further. Intellectually, of course I know these things are not true, but my addictions are of my soul, not of my head.

What saves my soul? My family. My friends. That which I consider Holy. Those who have gone before me–my guardian angels–my Grammie, my Nana, my Auntie Mo, my bestie Greggo. Good doctors and therapists. Good medications. Journaling. AA. Gratitude.

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