Frazzled. Worn out. De-energized. Messed up. Discombobulated. Broken. Recognize any of these states of being in your own experience? You are not alone.
We live in a world where the experience of being overwhelmed with a sense of our vulnerability is shared. Winter, with its orientation of frigid discontentedness, brings home a very real sense of the shared frailties of our humanity. With the impact of these facts weighing on our consciousness, there is the fortuitous counterbalance that this is that season when multitudes around the world celebrate the Incarnation.
The beginning of Winter is when many around the world celebrate the coming of the Divine into the human experience, in a way that is life-affirming and restorative. God, it is believed, becomes Man… and dwells in and among us. The Man-God comes to heal the breach initiated in Eden, and exacerbated in Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. The Savior comes to “rescue the perishing, and care for the dying”. He becomes “manna to the hungry soul… and to the weary, rest”.
There comes that moment in our experience when it is futile to deny the need for restoration and reconciliation. The many challenges that we face will eventually force us to pause, take a step back, sit down, and think about what we need to do in order to emerge from our frazzled-ness. By so doing, we give ourselves a needed reprieve from the discombobulation that is evident in our stumbling from one unfortunate circumstance to the other. If we are wise we voluntarily admit to the reality of the finiteness of our flesh. Wisdom makes us reflect on what it will take to move meaningfully forward, to regain our strength, and to correct our perspectives.
Much of what goes wrong within us, has to do with what is going wrong between us. The dysfunctions in us find expression in our various relationships. These relationships will include those that for one reason or other we have sought to ignore and to forget. Despite our best efforts to ignore them, they haunt us; they live daily in our conscious and subconscious behaviors. They thrive in the underworld created of and by our fears. This being the case, an examination of ourselves and the quality of our many relationships – present and past – is a good place to begin in our quest for a more fulfilling, more dynamic life experience. The re-filling that we need must begin within our own souls, and it must then necessarily find expression in the relationships that we engage in going forward.
In the course of the many challenges that are present in our lives, we find strength, courage, and inspiration in the various relationships that we become part of. On the other hand, there is always the potential for adversity in those very interactions. We fall in and out of favor with others. Now we love, now we hate. One moment you are loved, the next you are treated like a villain. We are raised up and praised one day, only to discover that we may have been exalted so that we could be torn down. One day you are riding high on the ass of public opinion… the next you are being nailed to a cross in the company of other undesirables.
How do we repair the breach that frustrates us, and that divides us against ourselves and from one another? How do we renew ourselves and find the oneness of being that characterizes sound, healthful living? We may begin, as has long been established, by recognizing the need to fix ourselves, and then proceed to seek the restoration of our relationships wherever possible.
Of some afflictions we are the authors; of others we may be the victims. With honest reflection we find ourselves needing to forgive ourselves our own indiscretions, and seek forgiveness where we have been the source of pain. In the course of this healing initiative we will find it necessary to forgive those who have trespassed against us. We will also discover that we cannot fix every relationship around us that have in some way impacted us. It becomes necessary here to just walk away… let time and distance deal with those. Forgive where you can, forego where you must.
There are many stumbling blocks in our personal journeys that can make our way forward rather treacherous. Some of these are there as facts of our lives, others we may have had a hand in creating. Instead of continuously tripping ourselves up, we must eventually find ways to make these potential obstacles into stepping stones… (cliche intended). This becomes possible when we harbor the wisdom… and the courage… to avoid or navigate our way over and around the scandals that give life to our personal and interpersonal dysfunctions. Wisdom enters into the places where we live our lives when we allow humility to open our doors to her. She enters in when we are ready to accept her help. She takes our hands when we are ready to let her lead. She speaks when we are ready to listen.
In a culture that celebrates the rambunctious, unproductive argument – we must learn to face the circumstances before us with resolve, and speak the truth to and about them without malice. Deep breath… deeeep breath. This is never easy, but there is a reward for trying. There is certain liberation that comes from diffusing our anger. That freedom to act creatively comes from our restraining the impulse to “let the other person have it” – verbally and otherwise. We can learn how to free ourselves from our own harshness. Truth spoken without venom has a certain healing quality. Instead of creating discord, it acts as a tonic. Instead of depressing us, it acts as an elixir. Instead of poisoning the discourse, it acts as an antidote. This way of engaging makes us stronger. It helps to restore our joy. Ultimately it might be the remedy we need for what ails us.
The freedom to act creatively is enabled by two dynamics… Forgiveness and Love. While this season is still new, we are forcefully reminded to focus on seminal events that figure significantly in effecting our redemption. This is that moment in time when we seek to facilitate the birthing of the Christ among us. This Christ is the universal Influence that seeks to redeem us… to restore us to our best selves, and to reconcile us to our Creator and to each other.
Our redemption necessarily begins with the recognition and admission of our need to be forgiven for our own tendencies to miss the mark… to mess up… to sin. Our lives are works in progress. None of us have any claim to perfection. This being the case, we can relieve ourselves of the burden of guilt that accumulates over time because of that naivety which evidences our lack of wisdom. If we can face the fact of our own unfinished-ness, then we might not be so terribly judgmental in our assessment of the shortcomings of others.
We begin our own healing with understanding the need for forgiveness in ourselves, and in others. First we admit our flaws and our faults… and those of others around us, and then we make a commitment to walk away from them. Forgiveness is the unburdening that comes when we act to leave our faults and those of our neighbor in the past where they belong.
The other aspect of the freedom to act creatively has to do with the cultivation of that resource which is in fact the ultimate expression of our wholeness. That resource is Love. A meaningful and durable expression of Love must go beyond any romantic notion of being together. Romance most certainly has its place, but we should all be aware that Eros has always been, and will always be a transient. Feelings come and go based on the culture of convenience and the fatuousness that typifies many of our interactions. The cultivation of a true Love must be grounded in a sense of selflessness – not in the shallowness of our egos. A ‘love’ which does not serve us beyond the moment, and beyond the trappings of an infatuation that is mostly concerned with our own self-satisfaction, is never durable.
Love in its purest and most lasting form is an unconditional commitment to what is just. A true love is rooted in a genuine concern for the growth and well-being of the lover and the loved. That kind of love rescues us from the miry clay of our own self-indulgence, and from the tricky self-indulgence of others. We will not always like each other, but we have a moral/ethical duty to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. The carried consciousness of this duty becomes the agency for enhancing what is best about us, and what can be really good between us. Love grows in us and between us the grace that enables us to be vessels of the Christ who comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry, is the healer of the broken-hearted, and the liberator of the oppressed.
Out of a meaningful assessment of the nature and source of our brokenness can come a process of rebuilding that restores us to our place as co-creators in the universe of our shared humanity. Our wholesomeness as persons issues to all the relationships that we are part of. We become better partners with those closest to us. Our children find us to be better parents. Our parents find us to be better children. Those influences effecting our own betterment, work through us to affect everything and everyone our lives touch.
Our individual lives are the starting points from which we build a safer, more compassionate world. If we are genuinely interested in the security and betterment of the spaces and relationships in the world we occupy, we must begin with that entity we can most affect – ourselves. What if my life, and your life, could become that shelter for someone in the turmoil of a terrible storm… What if we set out to help with the healing rather than exacerbate the hurt…
We, with all our flaws, have the potential to become more than we have ever been. In this season of Incarnation we can commit to discovering what it can mean to be in the image of a Creator who gives life… and the promise of life abundant.
When we set out each day to do no harm… When compassion becomes the hallmark of our existence… When to walk humbly and love mercy becomes the reason we breath… then we will discover that place in our lives where our humanity and our divinity intersect. This, my friends, is the place of existential wholeness.
R. A. G.
Roy Alexander Graham
President/CEO, FIGTREE ENTERPRISES, INC.
Copyright 2016 Figtree Enterprises, Inc.