Friday, July 10, 2015

Perceptions of Love & Kindness

I've been introspective lately.  I've been reading books that have caused me to look at how I've handled things with people in the past.  I get into these moods because I like to become a better person and I want my soul to be healthy.  I've learned a main lesson in looking back: sometimes love and kindness don't come in the forms we think they should.

Have you ever had anyone speak to you about something that hurt or offended you and then later you learned that what they said was actually that person showing you love and kindness?  I have.  In some cases it took me years and some pain to learn that lesson.  I see a lot of posts on different social networking sites that talk about showing love and kindness.  If you've kept up with my posts, you know this is something I support.  However, rarely do I see people post things about the kind of love and kindness that can be uncomfortable.  I think my big moment of not realizing the kindness shown to me was when I started dating someone that those closest to me didn't like.  While we should never let the opinions of others dictate our decisions, we can listen to them and receive wisdom, or just be cautious in how we proceed.  In my case, it wasn't that they didn't like him as in individual, it was that they didn't like me dating him.  I had several people come to me, and each pointed out different instances that showed them why it was a bad idea.  I didn't listen to any of them.  Because I wasn't following all the religious rules that I had been taught, I took it as controlling behavior on their part, not love and kindness.  I don't regret the decisions I made, I regret not listening to them and gleaning from their wisdom.  I don't regret who I became as a result of my decisions, I like who I am, but I regret some of the things I lost as a result of my decisions.  I don't think that they were 100% correct in everything they said and did, but I can look back, see their intention, and be grateful.  You know what they were really telling me?  That I am valuable.  That they like having me around.  They didn't want that to go away.  Also, they didn't want me to get hurt.

These intentions of the heart are hard to see sometimes, especially when we are on the receiving end of difficult lessons.  I made a big mistake back then at automatically assuming the worst of people I loved.  I had been friends with and involved in several activities with these people for 10 years or so, and suddenly they were wrong about everything and only I was right.  That should have been the first sign, but it wasn't.  I feel somewhat sorrowful that the friendships that I lost at that time have been mostly washed away, the love is still there between us, but there will never be that friendship again.  Part of that was my unwillingness to receive.  Part of it was also how they responded to my unwillingness.  So here is the lesson that I want each of us to learn so that we don't have to go through these things. If we are on the receiving end of words we do not like from those we've been close to for a very long time, take it with a grain of salt.  Be willing to receive, or be willing to be willing.  Think about the things that have been said.  Are they completely harsh or is there a tone of love and concern?  We need to try to remember that the chances of those who love us suddenly being against us is very slim.  There is probably an intention in the things they say that we have to look for.

What if you are the one who is speaking out of love and kindness to someone and your words are misconstrued?  This can be just as hurtful as being on the other end of it.  Nobody likes to be misunderstood, especially when someone you love begins to think that you are criticizing and seeking to hurt them.  I think that the best thing to do is to express that you were not speaking in a way that was meant to be offensive or hurtful and then just leave it at that.  The thing about someone becoming defensive over things that are misunderstood is that it is easy to pick up the defensive attitude.  It is difficult to continue to be around someone when you want to help and be supportive, but anything beyond, "yes, I understand, you're right," is found as an attack on his or her character.  It is very easy for me to become exasperated and I often feel like Scuttle (the seagull) in The Little Mermaid where he is trying to warn Ariel that Ursula is deceiving her.  "Do you hear what I'm telling you?!"  But everything comes out as backward and confusing.  (See video below)

I've had many situations like this with my youngest brother.  I'm grateful that we have maintained a good relationship through everything, but sometimes it looked a little rocky.  Some of the kindest things I could have done to show him and myself love was to establish boundaries.  I showed him that certain behaviors were unacceptable around me, but I didn't ostracize and show hatred or judgment toward him.  He didn't understand my boundaries, but he was able to see my intention and my love.  Yes, he was hurt at being told things I had to tell him, but he eventually understood and now he is grateful.  (It also hurt that I had to place boundaries with someone I love so much, but, again, it was worthwhile for both of us).

We cannot beat those we love over the head and we cannot make them do anything we think they should do.  I mean, if the roles were reversed, would you like to have someone treat you that way?  I wouldn't.  I didn't like it when it was done to me.  The best thing that was done when I was going through my journey of testing the waters of bad decisions and change was from my mom.  She expressed her concern then she continued to treat me the same way as normal.  She would listen to me and give me advice, but she never became mean or hostile about it.  She never judged me.  She just loved me, gave me my space, prayed for me, and was the same ol' lovely lady that I love and admire.  She was the one I turned to when everything came crashing down and all the lessons had to be learned all at once.  She had proven to love me, so I felt she was all I had.  In times of discord with others, I try to be to them who my mom was to me.  I'm not as good at it, but her example of love and kindness was needed.  He example helped me when I was responding to my brother's behavior. 

So, what if kindness and love don't come in the form we think it should?  Remember that those who love us generally won't say and do things for the sole purpose of hurting and offending us.  If we take the time to examine the intentions, we can store away the things said to us later for when we are ready to receive wisdom and guidance.  Each of us can only love and show kindness to the best of our ability at the time.  It isn't always the same at any given moment, and it varies from one individual to the next and it is hardly ever the way we think it should be.  The key is knowing how to recognize it and accept it in the form it comes.

What if others misunderstand that we come to them in love and kindness?  Remember the same thing.  They aren't choosing to ignore our words because they don't love us, it is because they are not at a point where they can receive.  Continue to love and treat them with honor and respect.  Remember that each of us has our own journey and no two journeys are the same.  Recognize their continued value, voice your love for them, and accept that their journey is their own.  Be there to help them pick up the pieces if need be.  Let them have their space if they need it, but check up on them.  Pray for them.  I think this is called tough love.

May we all learn how to receive love and kindness in the form that it comes and continue to show it in the best way we can.

Light and Love,