Dual Realizations in the past few months

August 16, 2009

Someday soon, I will begin blogging about the absolute inanity of my life.  All the little diddly stuff about which I write so eloquently (*cough*).  But I’ve still been thinking of the bigger things.  I’ve been thinking a lot about how my world view has changed and continues to change.  I’ve been thinking about God in all his awesomeness and majesty and about us humans in all of our brokenness.

Realization Number One:

Intentions don’t matter for a damn.  I can intend all I want to call people or call them back.  I can not intend to hurt someone’s feelings with a sarcastic comment.  But if the net result of my behavior hurts someone, then that’s the net result.  The end.  Humans, in all of our screwed-uppedness, hurt each other all the time, and much of the time, I believe, we really, really don’t intend to.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that “So what?”  It’s how we behave, how we treat others, the condition in which we leave others — those are the things that matter, not our intentions. We’re so fragile, each one of us, and so awfully prone to being wounded.  I think  that each of us walks around with all sorts of metaphorical injuries from previous human encounters — deep facial cuts, a weak foot, a crooked spine — and just like a toddler falling down and hitting the exact same spot on her head as she did yesterday, we get hurt at our same points of weakness again and again.  It’s so terribly bloody being human, you know?

Which brings me to realization number two, that thankfully, ends up making realization number one a lot more livable:

People are who they are, and they live where they’re at.  By that I mean that I can’t expect anyone, even if that person hurts me, to be anyone but who he/she is at that precise moment.  Sure,  it would be great if every person I encounter was perfectly healthy, perfectly able to communicate love, but I have to go back to the first realization.  We all have our wounds and our scars, and we are all (hopefully) on various journeys of growing and healing, so I have to temper my expectations of others with the realization that most of the time, people do the best that they can.  Sure, my best or your best might completely suck at times, but there it is.  This second realization actually brings so much grace, for myself and the ways that I make grievous mistakes in regard to others, and also for others and the ways they have wounded me.  It’s like the second realization lets people, yes, including myself, off the hook.  I don’t have to hold every person accountable for every bad action (despite good intentions!) because I can only expect someone to be…the person that he/she is right now, for good and for ill.  It’s all I can expect of myself, too.  I think that the second realization actually drives me right up the driveway and home to forgiveness.  Anne Lamott, in her essay, “Why I Make Sam Go to Church,” talks about how her son’s friend was being suddenly mean and angry, really hurting her son’s feelings in the process.  All mothers knows this situation, and we have all struggled with how to help our kid through it.  I love what she says:

I kept asking God for help, and after a while I realized something — that Josh [her son’s friend] was not enjoying this either.  He was just trying to take care of himself, and I made the radical decision to let him off the hook.  I imagined gently lifting him off the hook of my judgment and setting him back on the ground.

God, there’s such relief in that, isn’t there?  We’re all just trying to take care of ourselves and our multiple injuries.  In the great triage of human relationships, how often do I just let someone off the the freaking hook? How often do I need others to let me off the hook for treating them horribly, even if my oh-so-mighty-intentions might have been okay?  How often does God let each of us off the hook?

My two realizations simultaneously make me want to treat others with much greater gentleness, and make me want to spread like a salve a little more understanding for those times when our actions don’t quite match our intentions.

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2 Responses to “Dual Realizations in the past few months”

  1. B-- said

    I understand completely. In the hole… “with” you guys.

  2. beth said

    Let’s do our lunch soon. Love to you.

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