I should be working, but I need to get something off my chest. My nephew, a sweet and gentle soul, recently lost his life to drugs. Yes, it is an awful loss, but that isn’t what made me break down and cry in front of the sympathy cards at the grocery store. What made me break down bawling at Albertson’s was the enormity of the self-hate that led to his death.
Yeah, if you’re thinking WTF am I going on about, I understand. After all, what gives me the right to look at this tragic event and make any assumptions? And you’re right, no one really knows what he intended. I do not judge him. Heck, when I’m stressed out, the half-gallon of Rocky Road in the freezer calls my name, so I am the last one to judge. All I know for sure is that hate destroys and love heals.
Let me repeat that.
Hate destroys and love heals.
Boy howdy, if the evening news is any indication, hate seems to have gotten the upper hand of late.
If Facebook is any indication, hate seems to have gotten the upper hand.
If evangelical preachers and religious extremists and oligarchs and politicians are any indication, then hate seems to have gotten the upper hand.
Or maybe…. hate is just louder.
Years ago when I was in the throes of an eating disorder, I vividly remember reading one woman’s story of how she lost her excess weight. She said she couldn’t lose any weight until she learned to genuinely love herself at the weight she was currently at. At the time, I couldn’t even comprehend how that could be possible. LOVE MYSELF? It was unthinkable. I was so judgemental, so negative and hateful, so demanding and critical, that I only imagined I might *someday* love myself, if only I could be perfect. The hate inside my head was SO LOUD, it was the only thing I could hear. And if hate had the power it claims to have, I would have been perfect. Talk about a perfect, diabolical trap.
So what changed? One day I was in my therapists office relating a painful story about my childhood and I looked up at her face…..and she was crying. Literally, tears were streaming down her face. For me. I am still moved when I think of this small moment when someone thought I was worth their tears. Loud? Not at all, but incredibly powerful. Love is incredibly powerful. Love is what heals, creates, moves the planets and make the trees and the grass grow. In another post I relate my own “Burning Bush” experience when I learned that God/Higher Power/Organizing Intelligence/Whatever is LOVE. Pure, powerful, cleansing, expanding LOVE.
So can you hear the earth moving through the universe? Can you hear a tree growing? The sun rising? No?
Well, what about a child’s laughter? The birds singing in the morning and at dusk?
What about the gift of patience when a loved one is struggling to find the right words and you’ve heard the story a hundred times already?
What about the warmth you feel when you see a parent teaching their child to throw a ball and catch it with a mitt. (Just saw that the other day walking my dog!)
What about the generous compassion of a stranger this afternoon when I was trying to pick out a sympathy card and was bawling in the card aisle at Albertson’s?
My therapist’s tears.
What I’m trying to say is that LOVE is usually quiet. But it’s there if we are looking for it. It’s ALL around us, in the air we breathe and the sun that rises every morning. Love is so generous and bountiful that we completely take it for granted.
Think about it: If God loved us the way we love ourselves and each other, this planet would be a scorched, barren, blistered rock hurtling through space.
So how’s this for an idea? How about we start treating ourselves and one another with the compassion and generosity God has for us? Pope Francis calls it Mercy. Call it whatever you want, but please, stop with the judging and the hate. Stop with the negative self-talk, the put-downs, criticisms and doubt. Forgive yourself. FORGIVE YOURSELF. You are only human and get to make mistakes. Let yourself and others have their path, their process. Trust they are being called into wholeness and just take care of your own side of the street.
I’m NOT saying be a pushover. Hey, IIRC, Jesus wasn’t above flipping a few tables and horse whipping some hypocrites. Love also demands we tell the truth, so things can get a bit dicey/confrontational when you are dealing with bullshit. But unless someone is truly toxic and you can’t avoid them, just let that shit go…..and love one another, including yourself.
Why? Because love is the *only* thing that heals.
Love. is. our. only. hope.
With profound love and hope, Kathryn <3
Peace and love, sweet David.