Saturday, June 3, 2017
Making Things What They Are Not
I was actually considering Confession when thoughts came to me about one of my sins: anger. For me, anger exhibits itself not in rage, but perhaps more like frustration: “I really wish things weren’t this way.”
And part of the frustration is that I know I can’t change those things I wish I could --- despite my intelligence and dedication, I know some things I wish would be different won’t be, probably ever. No application of time, money, or likely even prayer will change some things (or people) in my life. They just are. And I don’t like the way they are.
I know this echoes of my last reflection on Finding Happiness, and perhaps this is an echo of those thoughts. But I started out not thinking of pain or suffering, as I did last time, but I started out thinking about sin, and in particular how I treat others.
I think a problem most of us face --- well, certainly I do --- is that we think others should be like us, should think logically like us, and should have the same values. I mean, we think we are basically good people, right? So, if people don’t think or act like us, particularly people who interact with us (or get in our face), we think they should change. We get frustrated or even angry if they don’t.
But what if they can’t?
We all know of a child who is handicapped, physically or mentally. We know they can’t will to change. So, we change. We adjust our attitudes about what is right behavior for them, to recognize their limitations. We don’t get mad at them. We love them despite them not being perfect --- as we are.
There are some people who are, despite contrary appearances, handicapped in some way. Even if they put on great efforts, they are unlikely to change. We often can accommodate their seeming stubbornness, their rigidity of thought, in old people: “He’ll never change,” we say, or “It’s too late for him to change now.” But we find it hard to make those same accommodations for friends, neighbors, or the man on the street --- you know, those people who God describes in that simple commandment: Love thy neighbor.
I know sometimes I almost say it aloud to God: “Him? You want me to love him? Really? But look at all the things that are wrong about him, many of those things are what You’d call a sin. You want me to love him --- anyway?”
Well, we can guess God’s answer, but it is hard to like it, or live it.
And that’s OUR sin. We cannot make things (or people) be what they are not. We (and I in particular) need to love them anyway.