“Happiness only comes when you make yourself worthy of happiness by loving others.” ~ Debasish Mridha
I was at a Bible Study in the mountains. We were discussing forgiveness and loving others without exception. I was a little bored that day. Or maybe I was avoiding the fact that I often fail at loving others the way I would like to. Instead of listening, I looked out the full-length window and daydreamed about kayaking on the river below.
Suddenly, a woman across the room slapped her hand on the table in protest, “It’s impossible to love like Jesus! Some people are too hard to love!”
I sat up straight at the outburst and paid attention.
People around the room cautiously nodded their heads in agreement. Or maybe they just didn’t know what else to do with her honesty. Whatever the case, her pain stirred me.
I thought about my own angst with difficult people. How I desperately want to be kind and patient but lose my peaceful mojo when I least expect it. Someone will do something that flips a switch in me, causing me to get angry and judgmental.
I thought about my counseling clients, side-lined by anxiety, anger, and unforgiveness in their relationships, too. So many of us struggle with the same core issues.
I tried to refocus on the conversation at the table, but my mind was led in a different direction. I’m so grateful it was because I learned something that day that is transforming my ability to love.
It started with my thinking about Byron Katie.
I love her teaching on The Work and have used it to solve many problems in my own life. I’ve learned from Katie that when I become anxious and controlling, there is an inquiry to be made. It’s not the other person hurting me, but the stories I tell myself that cause me pain.
In a flash, my mind went to Debbie Ford and her book, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. She says to imagine my chest as an energy center with numerous electrical outlets. Many of my outlets are covered with plastic protectors, but some of my outlets are open and exposed. Those, in particular, have a live current, just waiting to connect.
Therefore, getting anxious and angry about another person’s behavior is a sign that someone else is plugging into one of my open outlets. I feel a fiery connection and it can end up burning one or both of us.
But if I’m wise enough to seize it, I have the opportunity to look within, at my own baggage that normally stays zipped up and packed deep down, outside of my awareness.
In those transcendental moments, when I rise above my reactions and lower consciousness, I can clearly see my own fragile wiring. I get a sneak peak into what’s really igniting my fear and frustration. And it always has something to do with me more than the other person.
I call these buried treasures my “blind spots.” Because what I am blind to in myself, my negative encounters with others can help me see.
Jesus said it this way, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
As I added up the wisdom of Katie, Debbie, and Jesus, I suddenly realized why Jesus could love others the way I sometimes can’t.
Jesus had no blind spots. There wasn’t anything Jesus didn’t know about himself.
He was so good at loving others – all people, not because he drew on his divine power, but because he was a human without blind spots. Nothing was outside of his conscious awareness. Jesus had no plank in his eye.
If we saw Jesus as deity only, it would be impossible for us to mimic his behavior. But it’s not impossible because he wasn’t drawing on supernatural power. Rather he was wholly self-aware. We can live and love like Jesus by simply knowing ourselves more fully.
For anyone wanting to live a more compassionate, humble, authentic, peaceful life, we can learn from Katie, Debbie, and Jesus. We don’t have to avoid difficult people or strive and fake our way through loving them. Instead, we can use our experiences to know ourselves in greater detail.
Then we can more easily accept and love others because actually, we are all more alike than different.
We don’t have to wait for people to stop pushing our buttons to love them. That would be a very long and tedious wait! Rather, we can embrace our sharp interactions with others and use them to get clear about who we are and better yet- who we want to become.