A lot of us talk about love without ever really understanding it. One of the major sticking points of a spiritual life has been the mandate to “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” Right now I’m got a neighbor that really makes that difficult.
A lot of people make that difficult. On Friday there was a little old lady who didn’t like giving me the right-of-way at a four-way stop. I could see her shaking her finger at me in my rear view mirror. I think to myself, “Geez lady. Should you be driving?” Irritation wells up in me like as easy spring. I shake my head to let it go and look up to see her scowling face and shaking finger. Obviously she wasn’t letting it go and she wasn’t even in the right.
Ok, Lord, just how do I love people like this, the people I don’t like, the people who reject me and say bad things about me? People can really make some stupid choices, me included. How do you do it, this Love thing? How did you send a part of yourself to die for this sorry bunch?” No answer flashes in my head. I am left to allow my irritation to run a quick course and switch my thoughts to something more pleasant. This is a skill I have countless opportunities to practice. The introvert in me often returns home feeling like the world has given me a beating.
This morning, I awoke and decided that it was the perfect time to pray. I wanted some answers.
One of the people I follow on the internet, Teri Goetz, suggested a ritual to dive into one’s inner wisdom. The prayerful question to ask:
“What do I need to know right now?”
Asking is the easy part. Listening to the answer, allowing it to come is the hard part. I spend a half hour trying to resist my own desire to answer the question for myself. Slightly frustrated I get up, start a pot of coffee and turn on the computer. Suddenly, in my head I hear, “You are a child of the most high God.” Since this isn’t the normal way I talk. I pay attention. I think about arguing for a second and then settle in to a warm fuzzy feeling.
The other person I follow daily is Mastin Kipp over at The Daily Love. In my inbox is Kipp’s blog post for today. In it, he writes:
The Uni-verse is a diverse place and when we celebrate this diversity instead of condemning it, we become more spiritual – that is to say, more Loving. And we begin to hate others less when we hate ourselves less for feeling what we feel. The other way to say it is that we Love others MORE when we begin to Love ourselves and our feelings more.
Feeling your feelings and not judging yourself or others – this is a place of spiritual mastery. Can you do it? What feelings are you avoiding feeling? And why?
Feelings good, bad, and indifferent are a portal to the spiritual life. They are what make us uniquely human. They are what they are. Being annoyed with my grumpy elderly driver was human and okay. I didn’t turn my car into a battering ram and I certainly didn’t give her the finger. Maybe that didn’t feel loving to me but it was. I often have this unrealistic expectation that doing the right thing the loving thing is always accompanied with this saintly feeling of goodness. I’ve been kidding myself.
Some times the loving thing to do is to walk away and feel the hurt and rejection. Allowing people to experience the impact of their own choices, giving them a chance to take the responsibility for their lives and to travel a path without you is the loving thing to do. And some times it’s not.
Wanting answers doesn’t mean they will magically appear in my time frame. They always come but I often have to wait, and wait and wait. In the mean time, I muddle through. I make mistakes and feel angry or sad and a thousand flavors in between. When I allow the feelings to run their course, to fully experience them and persevere in the challenges daily life throws at me, my spiritual being grows and expands to show me the path I need to walk to become a more complete human being.