I’d been in a phase the past through days. It felt like my mind was being wrung out, dipped in peanut butter, wrung out, dipped in very hot tea, wrung out, dipped in sorghum, rather, rinse repeat.
I was ruled by the thoughts in my brain. I’d focus on my grandmother and how she has no respect for me and the things I do and the way I raise my child. I’d think about my former bff and how she is married to a man who proudly abuses his family. I’d think about my aunt’s greatly exaggerated tales about her kids’ accomplishments, which negate any of their actual accomplishments. I’d think about the woman I know that tries to make sure every new mom has a copy of Babywise. I had a bunch of things I’d dwell on, or, to be fancy, ruminate on. I do that frequently, but it was hurting more, and I enjoyed the pain, so I thought about it almost all the time. If my mind tried to wander away to something good I’d gently guide it back to one of my pet hates.
I took a nap today, and I needed it. As I was waking up, something in my head, or even my soul, came loose. It told me, “listen to the things that distract you – your relatives, your families. It’s not about you, it’s about them. You can’t change them and they may never change.” There was no, “change yourself” message, but any change I make doesn’t require I change before I do it, but it inevitably changes me.
That sort of philosophy isn’t new to me, but I often am unable to apply this wisdom. I’d rather take a Xanax and think about other’s flaws than work towards forgiveness. One is easy and the other is not. One way to go about it is to think about my own sin and compare myself to my offenders. There are so many things wrong with that phil0sophy. First of all, I don’t think guilt can teach much about peace. I was guilty, Christ died, I’m not guilty anymore. Is it the abolition of guilt that leads to love? I don’t know. If it works for you, great, don’t quit on my behalf, I think that is not the best first step.
Comparing myself to the people I hate is easy to do, too – and I believe it also to be fruitless. (If you don’t want to cop to hating anyone, just substitute ‘disliking’ or ‘not my favorite person’.) They’ve done a lot against me. They have a bunch of windchimes, creating nose pollution. I do not have one, therefore I am a more compassionate, sensitive person. They have more kids than they can afford, I have one kid I can’t afford. How could they be so irresponsible? None of those comparisons is useful. They are not paths to the love I ultimately want to have for these people.
Above I deleted the “it’s not any of my business,” line. Although in a lot of ways it’s not, in many ways it is. It is usually not okay to let someone persist in their sin. (I went back and forward on weather I should use the word ‘sin’. It’s just so charged I’m afraid I will lose you, dear reader, but I am confident that is the right word.) It is necessary to try and have a little chat with folks about what you see they are doing that is harmful to themselves and others. If they don’t receive your words as a blessing, then get someone else to come with you. (At this point you may decide it is not worth it anyway, you can forgive any hard they did against you, and move on.) If they don’t listen to you, that’s it. You have done your work. You can either tolerate them or kick ’em out of your life. What I need to do with all of the people I spoke about above, is to learn tolerance, practice love and let things go. For example, he child abuser is beyond my realm of power or influence, I’ve called CPS and my husband has spoken it to him and his wife. And I don’t see him anymore anyway. He is wrong, but all the hate I had/have to him is not a useful part of my being.
If I could truly let all those things go, I would have a real peace. I wouldn’t be able to ruminate because there would be no harmful thoughts in my mind. I’ve talked quite a bit about revenge in this blog, probably because I’ve secretly harbored so much bitterness it’s overflowed because my heart is sick of being filled with it.
I wonder if my ruminating has anything to do with hope. Do I hope, just by thinking about it, I can figure out how to change them? Is it just a matter of the right words or the right pair of underwear that will make them change, and I can stop thinking about them, be annoyed by them and then I will be whole? The Bible teaches that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” Am I trying to heal this sick heart myself?
I can’t. I’m going to try to accept that the thoughts I guarded so preciously and fruitless. I am going to pray for love for them, and that I will be able to let them off the hook. Some of the things are such small things. I need to look at the reality. I will probably not ever gain my grandmother’s approval, just as my aunt’s kids are never going to live up to the lies she tells. I think I am finally going to be able to dwell on other things.
I’ll keep you posted.