I’m gonna be vague here, because if I wasn’t, I might be misconstrued.
I have what I like to call certain allergies. From what I know about allergies, they can come or go over a person’s lifespan, they can be directly or indirectly related to incompatibilities between a person’s system and various substances/processes/foods, and they can run the gamut of innocuous to deadly.
Thankfully, I have no deadly allergies like others do, but I do have to be very careful because, as I’ve found out the hard way, I am very susceptible to the effects of certain things in my life.
With some things that have proven harmful to myself, I’ve been able to simply eradicate their presence from my life. I no longer drink or use other mind-altering substances and I’ve toned down my reckless driving and sport activities.
I’ve also worked very hard at minimizing the presence of those things in my life that I can’t categorically remove. This leads to the point of this post.
For those things that I’ve successfully minimized but not completely removed, I have to _always_ remember that there may never be a time where I can risk exposure to that allergen. For today, I have to assume that I will have a violent and harmful reaction that is out of my control and I have to take full responsibility for that fact.
I mean, wouldn’t it suck to have an allergy to strawberries, then die at a five star restaurant because there were strawberry seeds used as a garnish? Wouldn’t it suck to be sober for twenty years, then have a beer and kill someone while driving home? Wouldn’t it suck to leave a company and be rid of a toxic coworker, and then have that person confront you at Starbucks?
On the flip side, if I know that I am a source of potential damage and discomfort to a person or situation, I need to be cognizant of that fact and, if I must participate, be sensitive and compassionate of my impact. Regardless of whether I am aware of this or not, I am inevitably responsible for my part in the effects.
Of course, there are varying degrees of sensitivity and effect, but the dynamic still holds true.
So, I’ve been struck more and more with this notion — that following the crowd is (definitely!) not always the best move and, in fact, it is SO much more valuable to pursue what is right for myself at all times.
Yeah, that might sound like common sense or just good lovin’, but how many others got caught up in the housing crisis? The war in Iraq? The desire to let China slide on rights violations? The enthusiasm of Barack Obama?
I imagine that there are people who seriously consider things like that, then make a decision out of their own conscience and experience. Lately, I’ve been imagining “What Would The Donald Do?” As in Donald Trump. Regardless of the fact that he has enough resources to support him, the fact is that he makes choices based on his own conscience and experience. I certainly hope I can look back on my choices and say they were NOT derived from economic fears or insecurities, but rather from a sober and honest appraisal of my situation.
But, take something like the Iraq War. That has little economic impact as far as I know, at least none that directly impacts me. Way back at the start of the war, was there _enough_ evidence to ensure that fighting Iraq would address the terrorist threat? Well, President Bush said so, but he didn’t show me. Did I get drawn into the crowd and support the war? Not really, mostly because I really hate the President and I have ever since he stepped into office. But a lot of other people did get trapped believing — it’s hard not to!
So, I didn’t get caught with the war, but I did get caught up in the lending bubble, at least a little. I was one of the many who thought that the beautiful financial situation from a couple years ago was going to last and last and last. Now, I find myself with a little egg on my face wishing I had played a more conservative game.
This is just a rambling. I had to get it out of my head. I guess the only other thing I want to say is that knowing how easy it is to get caught up with the masses, I can find compassion for others who get caught up as well.
Me: God, hey, it’s me again. Good morning. I crashed hard last night and then woke up around 2-ish this morning. I checked my email the way I usually do when I awake, you know the way I usually do, and there was this post about someone struggling with Sin. I wanted to respond, but I wasn’t sure how to do it, so I kinda lay there thinking and I guess you gave me this idea. Wanna play with this?
Me: So, my idea of sin so far is that Sin is basically anything that keeps me from your plan for me, that when I’m _not_ living in sin, I’m living in Grace. Make sense?
God: Works for me. Is that working for you?
Me: Yeah, so far. I mean I have a hard enough time just trying to keep my eyes open and focused on what your plan might be for me, you know, in the big picture, or even each day.
God: Yup, I know. That’s been a hard one for you, but you seem to be sticking with the program that you found and you keep trying a little bit each day. Isn’t it getting easier for you?
Me: Yeah, at least sometimes. I get distracted sometimes more than others.
God: Sure, sure. The world’s a really busy place for people like you.
Me: Yeah, you know I wonder about that sometimes. Can’t you make it easier for me?
God: Sure, I could. In fact, it’s always possible for life to be “easier” for you. You just have to choose it. As far as life being less busy, well, there are a lot of people living around you. I haven’t thought it a good idea to put you in a bubble, at least not yet. There are ways, though…
Me: Ah, yeah, you and the “ellipsis” thing. That’s shorthand for “more will be revealed”. Cute.
God: Yeah, you know me and my sense of humor…
Me: Heh, there’s another one. I’m grateful that you won’t make a joke at my expense.
God: Nope! Why would I? Well, I might if there were a larger purpose, but remember, I wouldn’t give you more than you could handle and there are _never_ any mistakes in my world.
Me: Hmmm, lemme just check in with how I feel about that for a sec. Yup, I still see that. You haven’t given me more than I could handle and all the times that haven’t made sense for me, I’ll just keep practicing faith that you’ve got some bigger plan.
God: Good. I am a whole lot larger than you are — in fact, still larger than you can imagine. Keep trying, though. I know you have fun with that.
Me: I do, I do. So, as far as the Sin thing, before I started typing this, I was thinking of doing a kinda dialogue about it with you. Ready?
God: Of course!
Me: So, would you say it is sinful if I, I dunno, steal a car?
God: My question to you is, do you think that’s my plan for you? Or is it your plan for you?
Me: Well, hypothetically speaking of course…
God: Sure, all of this is hypothetical for now. I’m good with that.
Me: …I guess if I were of the mind to steal a car, I’d be feeling pretty hopeless or reckless. No, I don’t think that’d be your plan, more like mine.
God: Yeah, that fits for me.
Me: Okay, how about the Seven Deadly Sins of Man — let’s say “Greed”.
Me: So, I’m feeling greedy. I want more, say, money. Sin or not?
God: Again, same question. Think that’s my plan for you?
Me: Hmmm. Do I think God wants me to feel greedy? Well, what about “no mistakes in your world”? Might it be your plan for me to feel greedy right now?
God: It could, it could. I might have some bigger plan for you, but then we’d be back to a situation of “more will be revealed”. My question to you is, what are you getting out of your greedy feelings, or any of those other “deadly sins”?
Me: I guess I’d be getting my way, as opposed to anyone else’s way, including yours.
God: Makes sense to me. So basically, those sins are you being willful, imposing yourself on the world?
Me: Yeah, if I killed someone, got all lazy – eh, what are the others? Hold on, lemme Wiki those…
Me: Back. Found ’em. “Luxuria (extravagance, later lust), Gula (gluttony), Avaritia (greed), Acedia (sloth), Ira (wrath), Invidia (envy), and Superbia (pride)”. So what you’re saying is that these are all me being willful?
God: Well, yeah, whaddya think? You think my plan is for you to be gluttonous, wrathful, prideful or any of the others? How’s that gonna help anything?
Me: Yeah, okay, I can see that.
God: Keep remembering, just like you’ve been learning, I want you to be “of service”. All those sins get in the way. I want you to help others, love others, add the light in yourself to all the rest of the light in your world so that the whole place just glows and shines as brightly as it can!
Me: I want that too! Not just for me, but for my girl, my friends, the whole world! You _know_ how sad I am about how things are elsewhere.
God: Of course. We’ve talked about that for a while. Most of that stuff is too big for you, at least right now. Just worry about yourself. You’ve been making improvements, one day at a time. I’m proud of you, and it’s working, isn’t it?
Me: Yeah, well, there are some pretty messy and uncomfortable things going on, you know that!
God: Yes, I know, I’ve been with you through all of those…
Me: …yeah, I know…
God: …and you keep seeing how “this too shall pass” keeps working…
Me: …yeah, I know…
God: …and I keep giving you signs and evidence that faith works…
Me: …yeah, you do a pretty great job of that. I hardly ever see those payoffs coming!
God: Yeah, those payoffs to the faithful are pretty fun for me.
Me: You devil, you! I knew you were getting some fun out of all of this!
God: Heh. Come on, you know how great that feels when you can bonus out your daughter for keeping the faith and doing a good job. Like the last time you snuck in some chocolates to her lunch! That was a good one.
Me: Yeah, I liked it and so did she when she discovered them.
God: And you did that because you were proud of her, you wanted to give her something special because she’d been making what you thought were good choices.
Me: Yeah, she had been. I am really proud of her.
God: She didn’t have to earn the chocolate, that just felt good to give as a form of “attagirl”, right? I mean, she’s earning stuff on her own, getting smarter from studying, self esteem from taking care of herself, trust and honesty from her relations…
Me: Yeah, all of that. I’m glad you’ve helped me see some of those myself. They really turned out to be so important to how I felt about myself.
God: Well, you made those choices, to keep coming back to me, one day at a time. I’m proud of you and I love you.
Me: Thanks, God. I feel that. Thanks.
God: So, are we done with this topic, or do you wanna keep talking about it?
Me: Oh, you know me, I could keep talking forever.
God: Yeah, sure. Okay, if you say so. Forever, heh, you crack me up!
Me: Yeah? Cool. I made God chuckle! I’m so funny…
God: You just did the “ellipsis” thing.
Me: Yup, I learned that from you, “more will be revealed”…
(Here’s a draft from the early March 2008 that I never posted. It’s about time.)
Thanks to Mongoose Disciple for today’s words of wisdom:
General rule of dealing with humanity:
Never ascribe to malice what could as easily be caused by incompetence, stupidity, or forgetfulness.
This is true in dealing with large corporations, and it is extra true in marriage.
His words, not mine. I just think it’s funny how it’s kinda true. I would add “governments” to the list.
This is a letter that came across my desk. It was in response to someone grieving the loss of a friend due, at first, to a misunderstanding, and then for reasons unknown to him:
To my brother,
What I’ve come to realize is that there are so many people that have worked magic in my life, and then disappeared. I used to think I was a failure for not being able to keep long term relations and friends, and to a large degree I was responsible for not maintaining or nurturing them.
Now that I’ve become so much better at maintaining friendships, I notice that there are people that are less skilled than I, less willing, or whatever. It’s not simply up to me to keep a two-way relation going, nor is it possible.
Some essential ingredients that I’ve found has been the willingness and ability to be as honest and humble as I can be. If I don’t do that, then I’m prone to misscommunication, misunderstanding, and or egotism. Any or all of those are problems to clear relations.
All I can do is my best at keeping my side of the street clean. I commend you on what you’ve done for your part in the misunderstanding. There’s no denying that she was magical for you and your life, and I don’t think that anything can, or should (IMHO), ever take away her willingness to be right there at that particular moment in time and space, to give you that nudge to send you on your way.
To get philosophic for just a moment… :-), the magic that she did was for her own karma, not yours. The way I see it, her actions were never really about you, though you were an extremely excellent opportunity for her to manifest her mojo. She gained as much, if not
more, for her part in your relation.
You’ve done your part. You can let go. If she needs to miss out on your friendship, it is her loss. You have permission to trust that she will re-enter your life if need be, but until then, you have the rest of your life to give your attention to.
Go, and be excellent, my brother.