I’m a people person. I love others. I enjoy getting to know people. I enjoy discovering idiosyncrasies through relating and observing. Relationship is something we all begin and end with in this life. It acts as the hand that molds and shapes us into the individuals we become. Through it, we learn how to get along, how to love, to share, to bend and to stretch in order to accommodate these many others with whom we share the world.
As we are so deeply intertwined, our joys and our sorrows are bound up in relationship and there is simply no way around that. Once we’ve been brought together, though we may detach and remove ourselves physically from one another, the presence of the other lives in our thought life, they appear in our dreams or in an unbidden memory that rises to the surface of the mind. Oh yes, we are a relational lot by design, surely by design…
As I am one to focus on the heart, I often wonder how it is that we, being so relational by design, can’t seem to get it right. How is it, that we are all so very much alike, and yet we wreak such havoc on one another? Could it be possible to live unselfishly enough, kindly enough, to care about others as much as we care about ourselves? To want for them good, even if from us they choose to depart?
I have heard the term “good-willed” used as a description of some individuals. How deeply I wish we were all good-willed enough to want goodness for all, not only for ourselves; to choose to love even in loss; to harbor no ill will at the very least and to truly delight when we learn the good fortune or peaceful life another has found. Why can we not achieve at least that?
I can honestly say, I long for peace in every realm for all people, for each heart to be transformed into a pure and genuine vessel of love and for peace to fill every place, every home, every marriage, and family. How could I not? I find myself to be a very flawed individual with a long list of gross failures trailing behind me. For this reason, maybe, I am apt to forgive, to hope for redemption in every sense of the word for others, like myself, who have failed and faltered. I long for the legacy of my life to be kindness, that no one would ever fear being mistreated or brushed off by me. There’s nothing that feels much worse than to be shunned by others when you have already faced the worst inside yourself and fell before the Lord in humble repentance. It’s as if they walk above you, on a higher plain, that their sins and failures are somehow less offensive, more forgivable, more honorable than your own. Hmmm…very old stuff for me but feeling fresh and new again after only a brief encounter that brought it all back.
I never, ever, ever want to make anyone feel so small. After all, as I teach it every Semester, human behavior falls along a continuum, a horizontal line. Some behaviors are maladaptive, some are adaptive. Another way of saying it: some are prosocial and some are antisocial. Said yet another way: some are evil and some are good. None of our behaviors elevate us above another. They cannot. Only One is above any, and He is the Lord.
I am forever amazed at how individuals manage to elevate their feelings of themselves in the ways that they do. Thinking themselves to be smarter, more attractive, better than others. My one question to all, “did you choose how you would look, what family you would be born into, the intellectual ability you would have before coming into this world? Can you take credit for any of that?” Hmmm…again, what we have has been given to us. So much was foreordained. Compassion is easily found when we recognize with clarity the truth of all existence.