There is an almost golden twilight outside my office window, and the deep emerald green of the grass, the rich browns of tree bark and the contrast of flowers blends into a symphony that is unlike any other. The day was rich with friendship and love, but I am truly tired. From my place here on my comfy couch, I’m watching the birds on the final gathering of the night, and the gentle light of my new mosaic lights coming on in the flower boxes that grace the window. I planted orange and purple, white and pink flowers in it today, delighting with Taryn in the feel of dirt and roots. It was a beautiful, memorable day, quiet but filled with peace.
Mending me. It’s the focus of May, in the year 2011. I’m learning to be whole and at peace with who I am. Shedding the old and accepting the new. Understanding my health, dreams and all those around me in grace. I’m leading a life filled with love, compassion and mercy…that is new for me. This is life outside the hurricane of emotional pain, life after letting go of what was before, life pressing on to the new that is possibility. If the quality of our lives is dependent upon the questions we ask and the attitude we own, what better question than “how can I live in love and peace, and totally fulfill my calling, this destiny as me, Alison?”
How do love, compassion and mercy fit into your understanding of you?
What I most often see in people I counsel with is a limited understanding of who they are and could be. So hung up on titles and what they do, what they own in this external tech driven world. We rush so quickly in life that we give that initial internal glance at what we think we feel and just run with it. What of time in introspection, simple silence and mediation? Not making time isn’t good enough for what really matters – your inner life. Just for a moment, think through this with me.
Inside of you is a complex, beautiful garden much like the view from my window. It’s varied in it’s light and textures, has times of day and seasons of change. Have you wandered through the fields of your mind to understand that you’re full of abilities, courage, intelligence and talent that you don’t even know that you have? That initial glance becoming fact is fear; it’s fear to find out that while it may look like an easier way, or being strong in your choices, limiting your understanding of self is to limit your life.
Are you satisfied with your inner life? Your faith?
Are you loved internally, balanced with the knowledge that you’re growing and challenged?
Are you confident and happy? My friend Jeff calls it his “sweet spot.” I envy him that at times – he’s balanced.
Are you authentic in what and who you are?
Are you able to forgive yourself and look past your mistakes to find the potentials that they might create?
Are you locked in self recrimination?
Are you doing what you dream of professionally? Personally? Emotionally?
What is your prayer in the deepest parts of your soul?
Is the way that you act consistent with what your soul longs for?
Are your “rules” running you, or is your faith drawing you?
Are you driven…or led?
So many of us have issues that come from the past and hold on into our present. They’re dark times, hurt times, places that you don’t want to go back to. Loose the chains that bind by letting your hold on them go. For the nights like tonight, right before the fireflies come out to play and the final rays of light filter through the leaves, I wish that you could sit here, have a cup of java and come to understand the possibility of peace that you have within your chaotic soul. Still, the fireflies and I will continue to write about it until the world hears our simple message: seek peace, seek balance. You have nothing to offer the world that you cannot first give yourself.
Love: you’re worth it. I know that it’s hard to believe, and I know that there are moments that you feel anything but loved. You are. Love yourself enough to reach inward, accept and know that you’re special, unique and the only one that God created like you. Without you, there would not be a universe just so. You’re important to those you love, those you will come to know…and to God. Love yourself for all your good and your bad. Do it because it’s the first step to real peace and happiness. When you can go within for connection to the Divine healing of prayer, mediation or just peace ~ you never go without.
Compassion: I know a person that lives his life in compulsive regret. If I could have a magic wand, I would wish for him the peace of simply being human and not holding himself to such painful images, nearly caged by the life choices he has made. They define him ~ only not the real him. He’s drowning in his “perfect image.” I am not sure where in time we learn that we have to preform to be acceptable within our society; that if we change course or grow into a new individual, that somehow this might be bad. Show compassion to yourself. I know that we’ve all made some horrific mistakes, years ago, months ago, days ago, hours ago…maybe even now. The thing about both mistakes and victory is that a very fine line divides them. Without some mistakes, we’d never progress. Penicillin was a mistake. Lots of things were made while trying to do something else. Give yourself just the smallest break and remember that Christ died so that you could be human and still experience the love of lasting relationship with God. Is it right to just go kick the dog? No. Is it right that human trafficking, pornography, child abduction, rape and incest all happened today? No. Is it okay that we make “entertainment” out of images of murder and mayhem? Nope. Is it right that we’re suffering as a society from the highest rates of mental health decline, highest stress and worst health care projections of our counties histories? We’re creating armies of children that watch us self destruct, and we don’t even notice that they notice…everything. The number one consumers on Internet porn? Boys 12-17. Wow. It’s nine o’clock. Do you know what your eighth grader is viewing? So what can you do? Live in peace, spread seeds of love where you can and never let suffering go unaddressed if you can. Have dignity, honor and tell the truth in love.
Mercy: Sometimes, mercy is the last things that we give ourselves. I know that I’m a failed creature, brought back from the abyss by the mercy and grace of an ever-present God. I know that you are too, even if you don’t. In my darkest moments, I extend as much mercy to myself as I know how. I’ve acted so badly towards others in the past few months, bent on venting emotional grief, anxiety, physical pain. I’ve lost people I truly loved because of moments like that. I extend that same mercy to them as they walk away; it’s okay that they forgive without wanting to remain in relationship. I have to have enough mercy for myself to forgive and remain. Understand? When you’ve said the wrong thing to a boss or a coworker, broken an engagement or left a marriage, fought with a parent, sibling, friend…it’s all connected. Don’t rehash it over in your mind and imagine that you’re the worlds worst. Time fades memories, and this too will pass. Confess, atone if possible, allow the other person to have their real feelings. Don’t sugar coat or leave things out. If it was a mistake, say so. If it was an idiot moment, definitely say so. But if it is one of those times that you’re probably doing the right thing by moving on, that will be a hard conversation, too, but a necessary one. Know what the real root problems is, don’t just take the first internal glance and say “Ah, I shouldn’t have done that.” Meditate, realize, offer compassion to the self and really know why you’re acting and reacting as you are.
Give yourself mercy for the mistakes, realize the misstep and most of all…accept the grace to stand again. Jesus was brought a “woman caught in the act” in the Gospel narratives and he said two really important things. First, no one there could throw a stone at her in their own innocence – we’ve all screwed up more than once. I just watched a really tough video from Pastor Dr. James MacDonald @ Moody/Harvest Chapel about pastors and porn (where the statistic above came from. It was hard to hear.) Talk about people who really need love, mercy, compassion and prayer for themselves and those that they are unable to serve. But the woman, Jesus didn’t condemn either. He said…”Go. Sin no more.” He didn’t say “get a new non-ho type of job” or “you’re sunk.” He said go make healthier choices for your life. But he didn’t chain her to the mistake…he told her to let it go.
Sometimes I think that he was more worried that she would live a life buried in shame, going through the motions, that she’d never realize he offered her pure love.
I almost did that…what about you?