Isn’t it time to admit what we’re all having trouble with right now is the ability to face reality?
Probably the hardest Truth for people to accept is that they are nothing, except how much they love others. Your work is not you, you’re brilliant ideas are not you, even your amazing thoughtfulness and generosity did not originate with you. Your Love, the decisions you make to serve others, these are all that you have control over. Everything else is just a result of God giving you the strength, the facility, and even your very existence, to be able to do anything, at all. So, some have given up even the need to know truth, and you can go ahead and forget about hard truths. These may seem deprecating, and they might even seem demoralizing. That is, unless a true look with open eyes let’s you see that you are owing to something much greater than yourself. Even the baby in the womb, the newborn, the child, which all of us have been at some time, speak of the basic truth that we owe our lives, the things we learned, the things we do, to at least some benevolent, selflessly acting person for us to even be here, for us to be doing anything at all, and without whom we would have been lost.
This story of our need, and those who have once been there for us, somehow begins to slip our minds, though. And then we begin to think, without a sliver of irony, that we now don’t need that help, we’re self sufficient. There is a seed of arrogance fueling it all. We think it is our own opinion, our very own ability to make choices, that has lead us to what we believe, so it must be right. Read that again. It’s what someone will accuse you of when they say that you are in the wrong, and vice versa. What we all forget is that belief comes from example, and we’ve been following after someone who helped us in some way, all along. What we fail to realize is that this helplessness never magically ended one day, one day when we felt the hubris of our autonomy grasp the need for gratefulness away from the helping hands of others.
But the most concerning question then comes back, that if all the people in my past had my greatest well being in mind, then I’d be obliged to be utterly grateful for it all. But it seems that, in most cases, this wasn’t what happened, and we feel much more betrayal than benevolence, that we’re left to pick up the pieces from others shortfalls, more than to reap the benefits of their goodness. So it’s left to us to come up with solutions, and boy golly, do we have them. If this sounds familiar, psychology has observed this pattern enough to give it a name, the abuse cycle.
What a can of worms to open while simply asking why we have trouble with truth, right? Resentment is a very, very powerful drug, and it is especially effective at sending you into denial if you already think of yourself as a benevolent, thankful person. These two issues mix into a dangerous cocktail of bitterness and repressed guilt that can form the core of our responses to life. Not to get too deep in the clinical weeds, but we should be asking ourselves why everyone is running to a compromised mental health diagnosis to explain all of their less than super happy glitter and sunshine feelings of late.
Feelings. Our diagnoses of mental issues used to be based on cognitive function, not feelings. Mental challenge wasn’t ever seen as easily overcome, but this was seen as being accomplished through overcoming emotional challenge. When, then, was there a switch from redirecting emotional well being THROUGH cognitive well being to what we have now, when emotional well being IS cognitive well being? The usual response to our challenges now is, “Why does life seem so hard?” rather than “Why do I think my life is so hard?.” Overwhelmingly, people now adopt a policy that life shouldn’t be so hard, so I, or some other entity, should make it better rather than taking the responsibility on themselves, and now the emotional tail is wagging the behavioral dog.
Do you have resentment about anything? It might be time to look at whether your resentments are a cause for your problems more than a result of them. If you have resentment, ultimately it’s with God. The entire premise of rejecting him starts with a feeling of injustice. But, we usually think we are justified in our target of choice. If it’s not God, then yes, you may be justified in looking at the failings of others as unfair. But if you’re wrong, and “love your enemies” is the truth, then isn’t it God that you resent for telling you to let go of your righteous indignation? What place is it of yours to carry the burden of recompense? Can you?
So, it’s the truth that we begin to resent, attack, and ultimately disbelieve, and only for a fleeting feeling of imagined comfort for our unjust wounds. What path forward has anyone found that doesn’t run roughshod over someone else, except that it is toward serving others. But now we disagree about what forward even means. I’d submit most agree in principal that we are made less when we take from others instead of give. Here’s the qualification that most people will ignore, unwittingly, though. That a gift has no strings attached. Otherwise, it’s not a gift, but simply an indictment, an artifact of your past resentments. I say indictment because with resentment inside of you, everyone is on trial. Everything you give is only given for a fair exchange of goods, not for love alone.
Love is not just the absence of insecurity, but it’s a good start. How can you say a thing has value if you’ve paid nothing for it? You can’t. But we ditch this truth for a life of only giving any part of ourselves to people that are in our puppet show, that only respond to us with the correct moves in our chess game. Love is no where near that, but we let ourselves believe it is. Our only true commodity? Our willingness to give with the risk of no return. Every good, and perfect gift is from above. Read the rest of that verse: “Do not be deceived my brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of Truth…” (James 1:17–18) Every. What are you offering then, because of your realization that you own nothing, have nothing to give? It’s the hardest of truths, but the easiest to live with once you accept it. You’re either the keeper, or the hoarder, of God’s gifts. So, if you think you should be doing God’s job, or more to the point, you think you can do it better, how is that easier than being thankful for every tiny thing you’ve ever been given, and never having to keep a record of everyone who’s wronged you?
We’re obviously taking a hard look at a very common problem, perhaps from a different perspective than we’re used to. Why should this be? You don’t even have to believe any of it, or even consider the angle here at all. The results of the attitude of your heart will always be the same. Training yourself and others around you that you’re owed something will never result in anything but more and more resentment. The truth is, everyone knows this is the truth, but we tell ourselves keeping track is easier than only counting how much we can give away, forget giving away our self-righteous indignation. Who has been wronged more than me? OK, we can commiserate, maybe even plot the destruction of our enemies together. But who is taking on more work here, the plotter with the well-maintained lists of targets, or the one who has given it all up? Give it all up. All of it. And if you can manage it, even give up your illusions about doing God’s job, as much as you find the strength to.
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