Weird title but it kind of gets your attention, does it not?
This is going to be short…..because it is simple, but it’s not. It is a paradox. It is an easy concept that confounds many of us. Like all great truths. I had coffee with a friend this week and during that conversation I finally understood a concept that I haven’t been able to receive fully until recently. I am writing to myself as much to anyone who can hear this. It is a hard truth to accept and I mentally wrestle with it. We all struggle with us. If you don’t I applaud you. You are a lot further down the road than I am. I think embracing this truth is truly the only way to be free of much of what trips us up in life and causes us to suffer. My ego is not a fan but here it goes:
Being a victim of your circumstances is a mindset, not a reality. Jesus asked what can they do to you? They can only kill your body. You are not your body. (paraphrased Luke 12:4) In other words, you are a spirit hanging out in a meat bag for a number of years and you are only a victim if you mentally accept that role or ‘story’. Victim-hood, while painful, is a mental fabrication according to Jesus/Yeshua. Ouch.
A victim accepts ‘the story’ that he has no choices and in turn feels powerless. The story is generated by the ego a.k.a the flesh. That powerlessness he feels fuels his anger and his anger brings destruction to him or those around him. The victim, in time, always becomes the victimizer. Most of the time he will victimize himself with self destructive behavior, because it is more socially acceptable, or he will lash out and victimize others. This is the story of mankind, from the beginning, and is an easily observed truth, throughout all of history, all cultures and all religions. The truth is we all have choices. Three, in fact. Two will free us. One will enslave us. The ego/flesh would tell us otherwise because it wants to rehash the story it tells us to support said victim mentality. If two of the following choices are made then the story is defeated. The story ends. It’s teller is silenced, or at least this time, it will try again.
Make a decision to change the situation. Take action. Create a boundary or leave the situation. Most of the time this is possible, but sometimes it is not. Act, if it is wise.
Acceptance. Let go of the attachment to an agenda and or expectations and stop resisting, mentally. Surrender to Reality and stop ‘kicking against the goad’. There are some situations where this is the only option and the only way to become free. Rest.
Suffer. Resist or react to your circumstances. .
Well, that was enough to chew on this week. I am choking on this one just a bit.
I am definitely not an expert when it comes to insects. I know very little, in fact, except for what I have observed and experienced since moving here 18 years ago. Georgia has a lot of bugs and I just see yellow and black and I know there is a stinger there somewhere! It is spring here in Georgia and George and I, my companion of the canine sort, have been getting out and walking around the neighborhood. In doing so we have seen our fair share of bees and wasps or wasps and bees. Whichever. You know, things with stingers! Everything is blooming and it is beautiful but that means bees, wasps and other biting insects are buzzing around. So far we have experienced no stings, despite George’s nosy behavior, (must smell, all things, everywhere) but I am keeping my eyes open none the less. My husband has had the painful and unfortunate experience of being stung, a few years in a row now, by a yellow jacket, a kind of a vicious wasp like creature that lives in the dirt here. So I am diligent to keep my eyes on the ground when we take our walks. The bites he received caused his leg to swell up twice it’s size and it was very painful. 😦
For a good part of my life I have been a bit of a trusting person and a fairly open book to those that get to know me well. I have tended to believe that people wouldn’t cross certain lines or do certain things because I wouldn’t. That has been painful at times. And it is child like “magical thinking”. Like a dear friend says, “we see people how we are.” It is a fairly egocentric way to look at people and we are all egocentric to some degree. We believe people believe like us, think like us, react like us and so on. We tend to develop an attachment to these ideas or expectations. That being said I have been caught off guard by the behavior of many people at times for that very reason. Shocked really. When that happens I never really see it coming, and some things that have occurred still really puzzle me to this day. I guess my intuition was on the fritz or something and I just didn’t expect it because I thought I had a firm understanding of who that person was. Maybe it was more about who I wanted them to be. None the less, that is a mistake I have made consistently and I’d really like to prevent it in the future. Walking makes a person think and ponder things and I wondered why people sometimes “sting you” when you least expect it and this week bees and wasps came to mind.
Bees are funny little creatures. They are really methodical, organized and all about family. They just want to do their jobs and go home. They don’t have much of a social life outside of the hive and they thrive on togetherness with loved ones. They just want to build and maintain their hive, take care of the kids and make their honey. They really are not very conscious of others that are not bees and often see those that are different than them as a bit of threat. And quite honestly, sometimes, others are a bit of a threat to them. History has proven this to the bee and that is all he really has to go on, being a bee and all. It seems others like his honey and do try to take it at great expense to him and the hive. This kind of pisses the little bee off, quite frankly. It can cause the bee to become a little hypersensitive at times and very reactive to anyone that crosses his path or especially gets near the hive. People and animals often get stung, erroneously, because of the flawed perception of the bee, when they accidentally cross his path. But can you blame the bee, really? He doesn’t have the capacity to make observations or ask questions, he just sees a possible threat. All he has is his experience to go by and a deep desire to protect those whom he loves. The little bee will die to protect his loved ones and the hive and once he stings someone it will mean certain death for him. The bee has no regard for his own life. He is about his family. He is about the hive. You truly have to respect bees. They have very important jobs and without them we would be in serious trouble. Their shrinking population is having terrible consequences for our agriculture. Their presence is very crucial and we really, really need them. Bees don’t have the ability or the luxury to be objective as they are not conscious beings. They will sting when they perceive a threat, period, right or wrong, and always in the interest of protecting what is dear to them. Most people that “sting” are like the bee. They have lost objectivity, unable to see the whole picture and are just trying to protect what they perceive is being threatened. When you get stung by this type of person try to understand his or her perspective and understand that it is likely very limited because of painful, past experiences and history. This kind of individual is not “bad”. They are just very unaware. You might do the same thing in his or her shoes and most likely have at one point or another. We are all bees sometimes. But, do be wise and protect yourself.
Wasps are different in my opinion and very likely in the opinion of those who have had the unfortunate experience of accidentally crossing them. I truly don’t understand the reason for wasps if I am honest. I quite dislike them. I have been known to use some very unsavory vocabulary regarding them. Let’s get something straight. Wasps are not nice! Wasps do not sacrifice themselves when they sting you, for them it isn’t about that! If they can manage it they do not bite you just once. They keep coming! Wasps seem to enjoy hurting people and animals and bite over and over until you can get away from them. (again, I am not a insect expert, just drawing a comparison). Wasps are self serving, vicious, calculating and vindictive! (In my opinion) If you have ever experienced being stung by one you know how relentless they can be. The aftermath is extremely painful and it can take a while to heal after being attacked by a wasp! It is the gift that keeps on giving! While I think most people can be bees, from time to time, I do believe there are a small minority that fit into the wasp category. If you have ever met one, and experienced their wrath, you will understand what I mean. If you are under the impression they don’t exist or are really just misunderstood then I can guarantee you will experience one, one day. Sorry, I used to think that way too and that kind of thinking tends to draw them to you. Bees just want to be left alone. Wasps clearly want a fight and they look for the most vulnerable, trusting and unsuspecting person or animal to attack. I guess by now you know I am not really writing about insects.
It is not really my job, nor should it be, to label who is a bee and who is wasp and honestly they can be difficult to tell apart. If I can help it, I won’t be getting that close. I will leave that to my Creator. He is the Judge. What I do need to do is be wise either way. Both sting but I need to stop assuming I understand a person, one way or another, and just be aware, awake and vigilant. Just like long sleeves, a hat and a nice pair of thick Levis make one less vulnerable to being stung, appropriate boundaries in my own life are probably the best way to protect myself and those whom I care about from stings. Aggressive behavior on my part, stinging back, will stir up and anger both the bee and the wasp, so the important thing is to give them their space and carefully observe them from a good distance. There might also be a time to be defensive and take action but only if necessary. In time maybe I will figure out which is which but safety comes first. The important thing is to not put myself or others in a position to be injured. That is wisdom and love in tandem and I am hopeful the next time I happen upon something with a stinger I will see it before it sees me.
the refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. 2. the ability not to be affected by something, especially adversely.
In the natural world there seems to be a sort of an order. The wind blows and the rain falls. Water freezes when it is cold and melts when it is warmer. The tides come in and they go out once again. We can work with that order or we can resist it. We have a choice. We can fight, struggle, strain and wrestle with something or we can simply, calmly move with the flow, drop our hostility and resentment and simply trust in Someone bigger than ourselves. He is the author of that order. I remember when I was in labor with my daughter understanding this about half way through that experience. I had a difficult time with my first birth, that of my oldest, my son, and that labor ended up in a c-section after 24 hours. Thankfully, we were both OK. At least physically. Although, I wasn’t left with just a c-section scar. I had another, on the inside, in my mind, that continued to haunt me. My c-section was very traumatic and I had painful complications after his birth. I had a difficult recovery and a bout with fairly severe postpartum depression. With my 2nd pregnancy, my oldest daughter’s, I was determined to have her naturally. I really didn’t want to go through that again but as my labor with my daughter ensued I began the same familiar battle with my body. I felt a tremendous amount of fear overtake me. I fought and struggled with every painful contraction. It was soon apparent that I was getting no where and the doctor was once again hinting at the possibility of another c-section. He said he would let me labor throughout the night and evaluate where I was in the morning. If I had not progressed when he came to see me in the morning he would then do another c-section. At some point in the early morning hours, with my husband sound asleep in the corner of the room, I had a realization. I realized that I needed to cooperate with the pain, stop fighting it and let it wash over me. Just let it flow. I needed to experience it even though I was frightened. I needed to just let go. As a first responder, working in emergency rooms for years, this kind of thinking was very contrary to the way my mind had been programmed to operate. I was used to surpressing my emotions, being quiet and strong, and remaining in control but something deep inside of me was telling me to do something entirely different. Strength, I would find out, isn’t always about resisting pain. Sometimes it is working with it, moving with it, through it and finding out where it leads. Pain, properly honed, can give birth to progress and growth. It doesn’t have to swallow one whole as I feared and understood properly it isn’t for naught. It can lead somewhere wonderful. So I stopped fighting and struggling and when the doctor checked me in the morning my baby girl was on her way. I gave birth quickly at that point. My doctor struggled to get ready in time, because whether he was ready or not, she was on her way! It was a peaceful rainy morning when she made her appearance and I was at peace as well. Not only had my daughter been born healthy and whole, something inside me had healed.
So, this last weekend we traveled to see my youngest son. He is in a facility where they work with young boys with severe behavioral issues. I have talked about this before but I will refresh your memory just in case you forgot or maybe this is the first time you have read my blog. My son is adopted from the foster care system and he has what is called reactive attachment disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, and that manifests in all sorts of severe, constant, out of this world, often criminal behaviors. He was put in care because he became dangerous to other children and we honestly could no longer function living like that anymore, as a family. So if you didn’t know before, now you know. That, by the way, is the short, extremely sanitary version of what our family has endured. So use your imagination, or maybe don’t. I don’t know. But at least now you have a little context.
The Thursday before my husband and myself left to visit our son for the weekend, I started to cry. I cried and I cried and I cried. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t stop! I could hear the ego/flesh (you know, that little idiot that lives in your head who has a real smart mouth, bad attitude and sucky timing) chime in about how silly I was, how ridiculous I was and if I didn’t stop this, now, I might never stop! But, no matter how it badgered and insulted me, I just couldn’t stop. The flood gates were open and out it came and the ego gave up and shut up, thankfully. The anguish that I had been holding in, for months and months, was now pouring out at an alarming rate. Finally I decided to cooperate and just let myself feel it. And I did…..and eventually, thankfully, it did stop.
So, we went to see my son two days later. He is living on a rural farm learning to work with animals. He builds and plants things and is focusing on his academics. (Not too much time to focus on schoolwork when you are plotting to take over the world, so he is quite behind, from years of such endeavors.) He looked healthy and he has gotten taller. We took him out to eat, spent time with him walking around town, bought him a watch he was wanting, something to share with the other boys and then took him to the movies. We had a pleasant day. I thought to myself this is a friendly, intelligent, talkative child that happens to have no remorse about his behaviors nor any empathy for anyone, but I have no bad feelings about that. It simply is this way, for now. This is where he needs to be and I do wish him the best in his life whether with us or not. I honestly quite like him and after all the trauma he put our family through that feeling really surprised me. I understand why he can’t live with us or function well in our family. I don’t know if that will ever be possible and it’s OK. I am not resisting or fighting or struggling. I am just trusting and surrendering to my Creator. I was frightened but I decided to cooperate with my pain rather than battle it. I allowed it to wash over me, worked with it and I am working through it.
And….. I am OK.
Something good is being born.
(Originally written in September of 2015 by April M. Novoa)
The Spiritual condition is central, in some way, shape or form, to all of the physical ailments and conditions we find ourselves suffering with. This is my firm belief after many years of trying desperately to address raging fires, mine and others, with little squirt guns full of herbs, supplements and nutrition and prior to that with drugs and surgery. Not that these things do not have merit, at times, but they are not central to true healing. So, I hope you will indulge me in these thoughts, understanding that I cannot look at this journey to health by merely observing the surface and accepting the outward conclusion that things “just happen”, when they don’t.
So moving on…..
This realization has been building over the past few years. I am beginning to understand this like never before:
To him Yeshua said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and keeps looking back is fit to serve in the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
All of my life I have had an unhealthy attachment to many things that I interpreted and believed to be an expression of love.
Unfortunately for me, attachment isn’t love. Attachment is just the opposite. The culture I was raised in and still live in perpetuates this misinformation and our egos readily accept it as truth. It makes sense to us. It makes sense to us because we are flawed. Attachment has resulted in untold suffering from the dawn of time. Truly, attachment is the root of all suffering.
The story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Issac has been looked at from many different angles over the ages. I dare say I think I have heard most of them. This story always puzzled me. The explanations puzzled me even more than the story. I think that is because I was looking at it from my own limited perspective and from the surface. I think that is because I was also trying to understand it from the limited perspective of others and through the culture I was raised in. Our perspective is very limited, no mater what your culture, race, creed or religion is. It is just a fact. Scientists have come to the conclusion that we only perceive a maximum of 4% of our universe and surroundings. 96% of it we are not able to perceive with our senses. We are truly limited in our understanding. This is just a fact. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that for now, “We only see in part.” How correct he was! We only see in part and most the time just what is on the surface and not at all the substance of what something truly is.
What is love? Do we understand what it really is? Again, I believe this to be another limited concept that we do not truly understand. Our ego, our flesh and society tell us one version but I am beginning to believe that version to be fairly warped.
Isaac was truly everything to Abraham and Sarah. To lose him was unthinkable and beyond painful. My husband and myself, years ago, suffered with infertility. We lost our first baby to miscarriage and another later on. I can attest to the desperation and depth of pain of losing a child and then wanting to hold on like hell when you finally have one. Let me throw this out to you and please try very hard to put everything you understand about love out of your mind for a moment. Look at it as objectively as you possibly can. What if the day Abraham thought he was sacrificing Issac it wasn’t really Isaac he was sacrificing? What if what Abraham was sacrificing was “attachment” and not Isaac. That day “attachment” was slaughtered, not Issac. The Creator made sure of that because that was the point! When you let go of your attachment, what you were holding on like hell to, that love is given back to you, but this time it is pure. This time it really is love. What you had before you only thought to be love, but it wasn’t. You didn’t love it until you released it.
God is Spirit and to the carnal man spiritual things are confusing on the surface. I get that. I don’t believe to fully understand that story in the Scriptures, and most others, that it can be received with fleshly eyes. It is deeper than that and not what it seems on the surface at all. On the surface many stories in the scriptures are honestly preposterous and confounding. We can not swim on the surface and wade in shallow waters and ever hope to grasp the depth of understanding our Creator has for us. There is so much more if we dare to go deeper and only He can take us there. Your intellect is completely useless in this endeavor.
I was thinking about all the things I have had attachment to throughout my life:
People, relationships and friendships
Situations remaining the same or changing at my preference
Dreams and desires
The outcome of anything and everything i.e. my plans
Patriotism or allegiance to a government or country
I dare say that the attachment to these things, in other words, the expectations I placed on them, has resulted in a tremendous amount of pain for me and often others. I believe, now, that even though I thought I “loved” all of the above, and more, that the mere act of attaching my expectations to them was in it’s essence premeditated resentment and resulted in deep disillusionment and disappointment. Pain! My attachment, to everything, save my Creator, was the polar opposite of what love truly is.
So, what is love anyway? True love isn’t about “self”. It lets go when it needs to. It trusts. It hopes, but it doesn’t have an agenda, nor does it attach itself to an outcome. It doesn’t cling to what is not true. It doesn’t cling to anything but it’s Maker. It is freedom. It is truth, objective not subjective. It is secure and it is strong. True love is powerful but not coercive. It is kind but not foolish. It is resolute. It is not afraid or co-dependent. And most importantly it is not a “feeling”.
I believe after 46 years I am beginning to understand what love is and what it isn’t and what it is is not is attachment.
Letting it all go…..
p.s. let go of another 1/2 lb, yippee!! How is that for letting go of an attachment?! 🙂
There are so many things that I know now that I wish I knew then. Isn’t it always like that? Could have, should have, would have? I remember being a child and thinking about how little I knew the previous year, compared to where I found myself at that time. “Look at second grade April”, I would say to myself, “she didn’t’ even know how to multiply last year. Boy, she was stupid!” I would judge and compare the little girl then to the person I was at that time and I think I did that just about every year. It became very subconscious, these comparisons, and at some point I started to drag other people into this self-imposed, mental torture, comparing myself not only to my former self, but to others as well. It is so ego based and emotionally driven. Stepping back and observing these patterns is an interesting thing. I was in competition with the old me and everyone else and pretty much finding myself on the losing end every time. It is a sick game our minds play with us. Most everyone else does it too and are probably highly oblivious to their patterns. “Comparision is the thief of joy.” It truly is. I think this is no where more evident then on social media. What a sad state of affairs that can be!
At some point, probably like 40 years later, it occurred to me that most the time I was doing the best I knew to do at that time utilizing the limited information I had at that moment. At about the same time it also occurred to me that that is also the case with most others. People don’t normally set out to consciously make mistakes or victimize one another. Except for a small minority of sociopaths, narcissists and psychopaths, most people don’t intentionally hurt other people or make bad decisions on purpose. People, by and large, erroneously, emotionally react to the circumstances that they find themselves in and subsequently hurt themselves and others in that process. So judging, competing or calling out ourselves or others regarding mistakes and poor decisions made in the past is largely a waste of time and energy. If you would have known better, you would have done better, but you didn’t. I didn’t. We all do what we know, at the time, with the information and often highly subjective perception we have at that time. Our perceptions are largely shaped by our understanding. Our understanding is limited and often stunted by our emotions. Emotion is pretty much all we have until we become more conscious and consciousness, for most of us, is a long process depending on how much trauma and stress we have suffered and how we have reacted to it. When you start to see things in that light, and it is a light, you begin to understand that resenting yourself or others and the pain you or they have caused is really counterintuitive to growth and maturity.
So many decisions I have made have been the wrong ones and it’s tempting to succumb to a sea of regret. Looking back, however, there is much good that has come from the disasters I have lived through, often at my own hands. There are things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise and I honestly wouldn’t be the person I am today without having faced those trials that were largely the product of poor decisions. I honestly like the person I am today. I think she needs to grow more and shed a few bad habits but all in all I like her and the person she has become and is becoming. I am learning to love the person she was before as well. I really feel for that person because she embodied a lot of qualities that I know come from a very unconscous place. She was a very traumatized individual. The people that hurt her were also very traumatized individuals.
I often see this image in my mind when I ponder these thoughts. I see us all at an amusement park and we are in bumper cars. We don’t really know how to control the cars we are in. It is a strange and new experience for all of us! Some people are just trying to avoid being hit but they keep getting hit anyway and running into others no matter how they try to maneuver their vehicle away from everyone else. Some people think they will come out on top by gunning for others so they hit first but in the process their car gets pummeled. Everyone one is pretty much running into everyone else and there seems no end to it.
In life it is unavoidable that we are all going to run into one another, no matter what our intent might be, because we simply don’t know how to handle the vehicle we find ourselves in. No one is born with all the answers and honestly we need to be working on finding them for ourselves rather than spending time pointing out that others don’t seem to have them! Depending on how many “hits” we have sustained our internal guidance system often malfunctions or stops working altogether. When this happens we either run from conflict and appease others for our safety or we set out on the attack hitting before we are hit. When the guidance system stops working all together, that is dangerous. These individuals do really intend to hurt others, but for most of us, thankfully, our guidance system is merely malfunctioning.
Give yourself a break, you did the best you knew at the time and if you would have known better, you would have done better. So stop judging yesterday’s you! Give others the same break. They did the best they knew to do at the time and if they would have known better most of them would have done better. This doesn’t mean that the minority isn’t still out there, the ones that really are intending to inflict pain. Watch out for them and have appropriate boundaries where they are concerned. But don’t resent them. We become what we hate and if that is the case you really don’t want that guidance system to stop working altogether!