Synchroblog: What a Fool Believes

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Loving others as yourself is not a particularly palatable concept, is it? People are so annoying, hurtful. It's a foolishness to give people so much power. We need to protect ourselves. After all, we all live in the world, we understand the dynamics of power and control we learn to wield by virtue of wearing skin and having other skin-wearers impose their bad stuff on us. Power-playing happens before we can articulate it, schoolyard protectionist desires to be bigger and better than our rivals because we know how small we feel on the inside. The bell curve approach to self-worth - I mightn't be as attractive/slim/smart/strong as that kid over there, but at least I'm better than the kid with warts and the one who wets her pants.

And so we grow up and we become more "civilised" - whatever the hell that means - but it doesn't take much to power-play, even for the more spiritual of us. Just put yourself in a situation where you are in competition with someone else for the same prize, and watch your reaction. You're surprised at the hatred that spills out, or the derision, the contempt, the urge to demonise the other and make yourself the better one. Road rage - mild mannered people becoming nasty psychos because the car in front cuts in and causes us to take an extra .3 seconds to get where we're going. The need to restrain yourself from ramming your car up their backside in response, which feels totally justified at the time. And insane.

In this competitive society we feel out of control by virtue of being here, on top of feeling out of control by virtue of the human skin. We spiral into an urge to feel more in control by being controlling, by demonising "the other" in our quest for our own little patch of peace and safety. The end result of such competition is the cold little concrete jungle outside your front window, the one which makes you feel ever so small for the hundreds of little ways that you will never, ever measure up (but add this Botox to your arsenal; at least you'll feel a little bit more fortified).

Then there's the Kingdom. Uncomfortable things in the Kingdom. Lay down our psychological swords and beat them into plowshares? Ouch. Make ourselves vulnerable by loving our enemies? Refuse to demonise the other? What the? That would be letting people off the hook, wouldn't it?

Yes. It would. When I first consciously forgave my father for being an emotionally absent, cold, distant, loveless, joyless man who commandeered his family with a continual atmosphere of fear, it felt like a kind of dying. It was, really. It was dying to my little mini-creation of hatred and anger. Letting that edifice crumble meant making myself more vulnerable, dealing with the layers of pain hiding underneath. What it also meant was a release in my own soul. A release that allowed God to do the most healing things. My relationship with my father is much improved. He desired my forgiveness. I am so grateful that I listened to God and my heart and granted it to him. He is, after all, a victim in his own way. A victim of living in a human skin of fallibility, failure and sinfulness. An unfathered man fathering badly. It hasn't changed the ramifications of his behaviour. But it's allowed me to see them more clearly. Forgiveness doesn't feel like a good thing to do. But it's what we are asked to do. Because we really don't know what is good for us half the time.

Sometimes the best way of loving others is through our own wounds. Some of the most touching posts I read in the blogosphere are those written by people laying themselves on the line, baring their souls and sharing their struggles. It's a powerful, powerful, helpful thing to see someone else's struggle, to know you're not the only one. If we only knew how much power our wounded words of weakness wield, we would do it with more gusto, knowing that it touches God's heart to use our wounds to help others, and it helps to heal our own wounds in the process.

Jesus was the ultimate displayer of other preferment. The hardest thing for me in preferring others as much as I prefer myself is the nagging feeling that I won't have enough time to do whatever it is I want to do, if I spend time focussing on other people. But sheesh, Jesus always had oodles of time? Didn't life just flow for him? Losing your life to gain it - like everything, it's always better seeing it displayed in a walking person rather than flat on a page in a couple of principles. Because as unpalatable as Kingdom life looks when viewed as principles, when we see it displayed in the Man ... well, it takes your breath away, doesn't it?. And changes the world.

Of course, ultimately, it's the love of God that is enabling me to ever so slowly grow towards a life of greater other preferment. The mystery of this love that seems too good to be true, a living fairytale. I grasp some of its multiple facets, feel them change me, expand my view. And I grow, and suffer, and love, and continue grasping it, and it changes my life. It continues to heal my heart, open my eyes, unmuffle my ears - in ways that seem to have taken an awful long time for me to learn. But God is committed to seeing his love birthed in me. He is love. His love changes all, and it changes even me, and it changes the way I love you, as I learn to love myself more. Because, my goodness, I am more precious than rubies. And so are you :)

Love. The ultimate weakness. The consummate strength. A weakness in the eyes of the world (it's no surprise that the world idolises romantic love, the most self-serving love of all). We lose our lives to gain it, and we gain everything a thousandfold in the process. The beautiful, beautiful paradox of love.


This is part of a synchroblog, God's Call to the Fools. More edification below:

No comments

Post a Comment

Newer Older