Monday, August 15, 2011

On Kindness

Dear whoever cares,
Please give each other a break.  Lately I've been hearing/seeing a lot of people being really hard on each other and it is so disheartening.  I've been rereading "I Believe in Love" by Fr. Jean Elbee and at one point he mentions that the reason why it is so hard for people to accept God's mercy is because we show so little mercy towards each other and that is not just.  Fr. Elbee argues that true justice necessitates mercy.  Here's why: we, as humans, have a fallen nature.  What does that mean?  It means we are predisposed to be selfish, prideful, impatient, inconsiderate, dishonest, lustful, gluttonous, etc.  On our own, we are not capable of overcoming this.  So, God does not expect us to (not on our own, that is).

As human beings, we tend to always be seeking perfection, or the next best thing.  We want perfect happiness, perfect friends, the perfect job, the perfect spouse, the perfect car, etc., but this is not a reasonable expectation in light of the fallen nature of human beings.   Life is not perfect.  People are selfish.  People are mean.  People are annoying.  People are prideful.

Does this mean that we should all give up and that goodness, holiness is futile?  Well, yes and no.  On our own, holiness is futile, but we are not on our own.  Christ has given us everything we need to grow closer to Him each day.  It really is as simple as saying, "Jesus, I am not good, but I want to be.  Help me to be better."  If we keep saying that and living that every day to the best of our ability, then He really will take care of the rest.   We have to exert all of our effort and then trust Him to bless the results.  And when (please note that I said "when" and not "if") we fail, we must humbly turn to Him, sincerely repent and be reconciled, then begin anew.

But if we are going to ask for His clemency, then we must be willing to give our own as well, not once, not seven times, not seventy times, but always.  The failings and weaknesses of others, even those that hurt us, should inspire our compassion and not our contempt.  Protect yourself from abuses, of course, but seek always to be reconciled to one another if at all possible.  Measure your words and try not to speak out of malice or a desire to do harm.  Do not lash out at one another.  If you have done wrong, apologize.

Be one, as the Trinity are one, as the Mystical Body of Christ is one.  Seek not to perfect others, but to perfect yourself.  Seek to grow in holiness and trust that God will grant that request.  If we become truly holy, then, and only then, can we transform the lives ff those around us.

I realize that this letter/post can come off as extremely preachy or whatever, but I wanted to say it because it applies to me just as much as to anyone else, maybe even more.  But I look at the world and I am overwhelmed by the lack of compassion for human frailty and how quickly we all condemn one another.  This is not just.  This is not good.

Over and over again in the scriptures, Christ urges us to love one another.  This is not some cliche' Barney message about how we all need to sing songs and hug each other to make the world a better place.  This is the tough message about fighting the fight.  It's about loving the friend who betrays your trust.  It's about acknowledging our own faults while overlooking those of our brother.  It's about forgiving the ones who falsely accuse you.  It's about accepting that our understanding of reality is imperfect and others may not be the villains we imagine them to be.

"Love one another as I have loved you."  How has He loved us?  When we betrayed Him, rejected Him, ignored Him, and beat Him, He chose to humble Himself to our own lowly fragile state, take on our sins, and die for our crimes.  This is love!  This is what we are called to do!

"Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me."  Do you want to know how well you love?  Look to the person you love least.  To whom are you least kind?  Whom do you regard with spite, condescension, loathing, judgement, bitterness?  However much you love that person, that is how much you love.  What a hard truth this is, yet how much better and kinder the world would be if we could but remember it in our daily lives.

No one is the way they are without a reason.  Remember that.   When someone hurts you, remember that there is more to the picture than you are able to see.  Do not forget that they may not have intended harm or even be aware of the harm they caused.  And even if they did intend the harm, remember that people who lash out are broken people, full of fear, doubt, and self-loathing and do not look upon them with anger or smug pride but remember your own insecurities, doubts, and fears and see those persons as equals.  We are brothers in arms, struggling through this war together.  Let us not destroy our own allies.

Forgive.  Speak with words of kindness and healing.  Curb your anger and surrender it to God.  Do not presume to know the fates of others, just love to the best of you ability.  I read somewhere once, "Love and do what you will".  I believe that.

I believe in love.  I believe in the power of love to transform lives.  It starts with you and I.  Don't be afraid to begin.  Be patient.  Don't expect to see the fruits of your labors, but with an audacious confidence believe that they will come.

I just needed to say that.  Thanks for reading.



Anonymous said...

How simply, but profoundly, stated. I think I was directed to read this for a reason, and you have led me to a forgiveness I've stubbornly clung to. Thank you for just being you.
Jan Gardner

Therese said...

I'm glad to hear it! Thank you for sharing this with me!