“Perhaps those we value the least have the most to teach us.”
-Barbara Holmes as quoted by Richard Rohr
Why is it that self-help efforts often seem like self-abuse?
This particular statement by Ms. Holmes stirred pain within me. I began to think of those people I judge the harshest. During these moments of pondering, I also recalled the number of times I have spoken of our connection to each other. These reflections often moved me with the sacred design of humanity and the universe. This design offers the miracles of humility, healing and hope, knowing that God's work requires a village; healing occurs in community; heaven is experienced here on earth.
In light of these soul stirring revelations, I felt like I hit a brick wall as I read the statement above, and let it sink into my soul.
My judgments of others are just plain destructive to the sacred design of our God. My judgment of you limits your ability to fully participate in the sacred purpose of humanity and creation. My judgment impairs your ability to be part of my healing.
Then I found myself in front of the mirror.
I am my own harshest judge. My fears, doubts, and self-imposed limitations impose huge limitations on God's ability to fully express Her/His design for our collective fullness of love, grace and peace.
Our Higher Power is weakened by my self-doubts.
This is some major food for thought, prayer, and action in my life.
My Native American elders have challenged me with a couple of challenges.
One of the most challenging, and ongoing, is the challenge to accept a compliment. When you offer me a complement and I minimize it, I am minimizing the voice of my Higher Power. I am saying that I don't believe the voice of God as She/He is affirming the gifts I have been given.
Humble pie is very difficult to savor and swallow. Yet, we thrive on random acts of kindness, expound on the pain of verbal bullying, and encourage each other to share our positive energies. Then, when you do this for me, I struggle to accept your voice, God's voice.
Greg, it's time to grow up!
In a similar thought, I was approached by elders and asked to perform certain tasks among and for our community. I expressed my doubts in my qualifications and abilities. I was sternly reprimanded. “If I did not believe you to be capable, I would not have asked you on behalf of our community.”
My responses to both situations reflects the simple barriers of my selfishness and ego. These responses are about me, me, me.
Truth: It's not about me. Your voices of affirmation are the Creator's voice of affirmation, not for me but for us, for our community, for our world. You are simply speaking on our behalf.
Truth: The recognition of elders is not about me. It is about the needs of the community. Further, as I carry out the requested action, I have our full community as a resource. What makes me think I'll be able to accomplish anything alone? Together, we have what we need to make anything happen, TOGETHER.
So, I ask you to take time with me to look closely at our faith communities: our churches, 12-step groups, knitting groups, political gatherings, coffee clutches, card parties, etc. Each of these is an opportunity to move the sacred energies and plans of our Higher Power to heal opioid crises, political unrest, addiction, family strife, sex scandals, personal healing, health care crises, and our individual traumas. We are the folks who are healing during our card parties and social encounters, national rallies and religious activities, personal greetings and self-care.
We don't have to move a mountain. We simply have to treat ourselves and each other with the love that empowers miracles.
In the quiet, beside the restful waters, we will hold each other in serenity, courage and wisdom.