Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Righted

A week or so ago I wrote about a "Crappy Anniversary."  Even in writing it, I knew there was a "gotcha" in there somewhere.  I stand behind the sentiment; I do believe that there is as much to be learned -- or perhaps far more to be gained -- from the challenging, downright difficult times as from the joyous ones.  Nonetheless  the fact that a year later I still veiewed the event as "crappy" was the clue that some clarity is lacking.

The night after I wrote the post, I dreamed about it.  I dreamed that I called my former pastor and bastion of clear sanity, Father Sam, and was talking to him about the post.  In true Father Sam form, he said he smelled a rat.  He asked me when I was going to get off my sanctimonious potookus and take full and complete responsibility for my own joy.  Though dreaming, I could feel the heat of embarrassment surge into my face and belly.  Ironically, I became even more self righteous and tried to counter with an argument that this was something that had been done to me.  Surely he could muster some sympathy me.  I said, "If I was standing in the middle of the street and got run over, would it still be all my responsibility (meaning all my "fault")?"

My imaginary counselor looked at me with a mischevious look , almost a wink, and said, "Well, you were the one standing in the middle of the road." 

Crud.  I woke up.  I mean I sat bolt upright and saw the light dawn.  The whole "ouch" behind "Crappy Anniversary" is that I still believed I had been "wronged."  That is the crux of it right there.  As long as I am walking around believing I have been wronged, I am still holding onto a piece of resentment and that resentment is keeping me from fully healing.  In other words, it's hurting me, not the people who supposedly wronged me. 

The tricky part is this.  We truly believe we are "wronged" by others.  Yet when I look truly objectively at various times I have been "wronged,"  I can see that is not what happened.  Most often when I'm hurt by another's actions, they weren't intended for hurt.  Most often they were simply trying to meet a need in their own life and they did not think ahead to the impact this would have on me or on others.  I am at affect of their actions, but I was not targeted by them.  Does that mean the other person is not accountable for his actions?  Of course not.  But I'm not God.  I don't get to judge; it's not in my purview. 

We live in a culture that supports the idea that we are frequently wronged.  If you doubt me, consider how many times a day we see ads for class action lawsuits.  I live in a state that still executes people for their crimes.  Quite often after the executions, members of the families of the prisoner's victims are interviewed.  At least half the time, they say the execution did not right the wrong.   That's because the "righting" is up to us.  The righting of the wrong is a matter of us shifting our perspective and being willing to truly and fully forgive -- and then to "repeat as needed."  I do not believe forgiveness is something we do once.  I think because of our sublime human ability to remember, it quite often takes repeating.  Yet that forgiveness is the key to my living a life of true joy.

I've been righted.

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