Love = Freedom

A few weeks ago I was in Starbucks writing in my journal. Two gentlemen came and sat right across from me. They began chit-chatting, opened up their bibles and began to share scripture. I kept on writing but their voices began to echo through me. It was a busy morning in there but somehow I could feel and hear all they were discussing even when I tried to block it out.

I stopped writing. I closed my eyes and with full abandonment entered their world.

One said to the other, “The Lord will forgive you. He will have mercy upon us. Christ won’t hold this against you or me because we are walking the righteous path….” More scripture was recited. I began to stare away from them out the window, pen in hand, waiting for my heart to stop beating so tightly against my chest.

They shared a lot of intimate moments and experiences for a while. One man cried, the other got up, walked around the table and hugged him. There, in the middle of a busy shop. No one noticed. The man wiped the tears away and sat down. The other sat in silence for a moment gathering his will to continue the conversation.

The story was not unlike another. I get to witness many of these, whether I am being told the stories or I am partaking from a distance. But, what I found interesting was the way they had used religion to mask their love affair. They spoke of their wives and children. I wanted to reach over to them, hold both their hands and tell them that they hold the key to changing their struggle and heartache. I wanted to hug them, look at them, see them, listen attentively, and let them know they weren’t alone and Christ doesn’t punish for loving anyone. And, if they needed to finally be happy freedom and truth needed to be addressed.

But, this wasn’t my story.

But, this is a story of hurt and confusion. It’s a story of living under erroneous pretenses. It’s a story of pretending and not pretending; loss and gain; faith and guilt. I had to take a few deep breaths while trying to hold my tears. I was paralyzed in that chair, feeling these two souls whose lives were better because of each other but also tragic because of their circumstances. I ached deeply for these strangers while feeling their love and admiration for one another.

And…there…right there…in that coffee shop everything evolves and resolves. I left them still reading to each other, fighting their desires, attempting to tackle their faiths while denying what was real.

We all fight something, right? We all have little secrets at times that eat us and shame us? Nothing is perfect. So if you love, please love harder. If you are miserable, please adjust your motives and find a plan. Challenges and obstacles rise to show us our strengths. Life is too short to feel shame, guilt, resentment and become bitter because you can’t change things right at this moment. Love openly and fully. Say your ‘I Love You’s’ as much as possible. Nothing lasts forever…

~m.a.p.

Learning through others

 

kindness

There is a story about a woman who walks many miles with her overweight son to see Mahatma Gandhi.  When she gets there she begs, “Please tell my son to stop eating sugar.”  Gandhi is said to have asked her to return the following week.  The next week she walked the entire day again with her son to meet him.  This time Gandhi looked at the boy and immediately said, “Do as your mother says and stop eating sugar.”  The woman, confused and a bit angry after all the walking asked, “Why didn’t you just say that last week?  We’ve walked for hours to see you.”  Gandhi replied, “First I had to give it up myself.”

This is a perfect example of teaching through experience.  I am always surprised at how people judge (or give advice) on my parenting skills when they have no children.  I am always surprised at others who give marriage advice when they’ve never been married.  Oh, and the ones who know “exactly” how it feels to mourn or grieve a love one when they haven’t gone through the process.  How can anyone teach without experiencing those things themselves?

I will not mingle or entertain those things I don’t know anything about.  I have little knowledge of politics therefore I don’t enter into conversations on the subject.  I know little about organized religions except for the ones I studied in school.  I can’t sit and discuss beliefs with someone from another background without having experienced what they’ve experienced.  I can’t tell a surgeon how he needs to mend a heart.  I haven’t the slightest clue on a million and one things.  I am learning to keep my mouth shut because I don’t appreciate when others criticize my life without walking my path.

Humanity falls short when it comes to holding compassion.  We immediately allow the ego to judge and scrutinize even without experiencing those issues.  I love this story of Gandhi and the woman.  It shows how we can detach from any situation and try to impart ourselves in order to be empathetic.  Just because I don’t live in a third world country doesn’t mean I can’t imagine how those who go without food feel.  But, I have no clue how “exactly” it feels to be without food.  I have no idea, unless I experience it myself, how the soul feels when it is depleted from nutrition.  The closest I came to this was when my daughter arrived from Romania and she was mal-nourished.  She would hide food under the bed.  She would sit with her meal and chew everything once and put it back on the plate so no one would take it from her.  Then she would take her time to go around the plate and finally enjoy the meal.  Will I ever know what she experienced in an orphanage?  No clue.  I can only learn from what I witnessed.

I see homeless people in large cities all the time.  I feel a sense of helplessness for them.  I am drawn to them in ways I can’t even explain.  I have no idea what it is to live in the streets, in the cold, in the heat and in the mercy of others.  Whenever I hear people say, “They need to get up their lazy asses and get jobs!” I cringe.  How can you be so ignorant?  Unless you have lived that life you can’t possibly know the struggles, obstacles, and mental issues.  Go homeless for a week and then, perhaps, you can give advice (an opinion) on the subject.

We as a whole in this world need to learn to tolerate without judgment.  We need to allow the ego to fall to the side in order to help others without discriminating.  Whether it is for the homeless, the illegal immigrant, the single mother, the homosexual, the drug addict, the HIV patient, etc!  If you haven’t experienced their life please be kind enough to send love, prayers and allow your ego to take a backseat.  Never diminish one struggle over another.  Never judge what you haven’t undergone.   The harshness of opinions, criticism, and intolerance seems to cause more than just wars.  It is depleting our world from the faith in humanity.  Unless you walked the talk…please sit down and quiet the mouth.  As I always tell my children when they try to argue a point they know nothing about, “But, but, but, Mom….”  I say, “The only but is the one you need to sit on and be quiet until you have experienced it yourself.”

We are one.  We are connected in this giant web of humanness.  Learn from others but don’t allow your preconceptions determine the person they are, can be, or should become.  You never know where life can take you.  Karma has a way of teaching powerful lessons when we carry a closed mind and heart.  One thing I know for sure is that kindness and compassion are free.  Character is built on integrity and the willingness to move past judgment and into the service of others.

…Until you walk in my shoes

love is the absenceWhenever I feel an attack I become a recluse.  My hermit ways grab a hold of me and I escape into a world of silence.  After releasing it writing about it comes natural.  Judgment has many complexities.  It is about our own intuition and perception.  It is also about wisdom, telltale, warnings and consultation.  Judgment is also painful, opinionating, deceitful and full of many false criticisms.  It can destroy relationships, friendships and anything it comes in contact within the umbrella of gossip.  We are all subject to it.  No one is exempted from it. And, this simple noun, with all its complexities, rises and grabs us hold.  We are forced to step back and re-evaluate, not only others but ourselves in the process of relating to them.

When we are emotionally unavailable life is a huge struggle.  We show the strength in our spirit as soon as the walls start to cave around us.  Strength is not shown in moments of comfort and happiness.  It appears in moments of trials and difficulties through the courage of letting go. Judgment and criticism are catalysts to stepping back and watching the ego take the lead.  Challenges push us to stay in hot water and brew to develop into something magically unavailable to us in other instances of our lives.  We become authentically in nature if we allow the self to live in honesty while honoring our truths.  The judgments from others can’t really hurt us if we are grounded in authenticity.  I always say out loud when I am making a point, “I know my truth!”  That knowing comes from divinity.

I believe that we learn through the challenges of feelings.  We are pushed to escape our egos and allow the Divine to help.  When things are going well we rarely go to Spirit.  It’s as if we need to find pain in order to fall on our knees and get closer to God.  It’s ironic.  The lower you are the higher you become.   Being emotionally honest allows the freedom to celebrate Spirit, the core essence of our being.   I find that the older I get the more emotionally available I become with myself.  I am not running.  I embrace the emotions, sometimes holding them too tightly to finally allowing them to subside.  My humanness craves for the liberation of principle.  I am accepting me in the perfection of being the best version of me there is in this world.

A few things I have learned from the vile of other’s opinions.  And, here are quotes that fit any situation that causes us to step into the uncertainty of criticism and how it affects us.  Unless you’ve walked in my shoes, you cannot know how I will react, and vice versa.

– “Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” – Albert Camus

– “People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.” – Albert Camus

– “Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” – Jesse Jackson

– “We judge others instantly by their clothes, their cars, their appearance, their race, their education, their social status. The list is endless. What gets me is that most people decide who another person is before they have even spoken to them. What’s even worse is that these same people decide who someone else is, and don’t even know who they are themselves.” – Ashely Lorenzana

– “I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.” – Douglas Pagels

– “Don’t judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him.” – Georg Christoph Lichetenber

Sadly enough there’s no return from gossip and judgment.  Once it is out there it is difficult to deny it.  The only thing one must do is keep moving to the best of your own judgment.  All the great masters expressed that the secret to compassion is to turn the other cheek.   We must give thanks for those teachers who hurt us and push us to expand our hearts.  Our hearts have to break, pain has to be somewhat present, and then we grow.  I’ve come to realize that’s how it is with love and God.  There is such beauty in allowing the truth to come through our weakness.  The more we allow ourselves to feel the discomfort, the easier the journey becomes.  I vow to become more emotionally honest and speak up when the pain appears, when joy embraces me, and when Spirit speaks to me.  I wish you freedom as you gift yourself the ability to honor all emotions and live authentically.  Life is too short to pretend, hide, neglect and reject the emotional roads that lead to truth.  Judgment, or not, the choice is always yours…until you walk in my shoes I will not allow you to dictate my emotions.  Ultimately you are only responsible for one person…YOU!