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One Man's Trash...

We all know the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure". I think this translates into so many areas of our life. . One woman's relaxation is another woman's atrophy. One man's prison is another man's safe haven. You get the idea.

I rarely watch television. In fact, we cancelled our cable a couple of years ago and haven't missed it. However, while in someone else's home last week, I caught just the first few minutes of "The Voice" on NBC. I can't say I remember the content of the program. What really made an impression on me was my friend's complaint about how so many of the contestants' stories blame their conservative religious upbringings for having negatively impacted their lives. I didn't comment, but the moment was thought provoking. I thought about it all the way home and 3 days later, I'm still pondering.

The friend whose home I was in has a perspective that is unique to her experience. I know that her childhood was one of instability and upheaval on the good days and heart-breaking abuse on others. I also know that hope and light finally came into her life during her middle school years in the form of a Christian family whose daughter was her good friend and classmate. The family's stable home and Christian faith became a lifeline to her young self and to this day, the church and the Bible are a source of comfort and safety to her. Knowing this, it is easy to see why she (and countless others) would feel upset over anyone ascribing blame to an institution that was so helpful to her personally.

I, myself grew up in church. While I don't have a sob story that would make for a heart-wrenching intro on "The Voice", I feel I can absolutely understand why many people do not look back fondly on their time within its walls. Though we left the church almost 15 years ago, I still struggle with resentment over the way the church taught me I was more worthy of death than of God's love, that it was a sin to love my wretched self and a moral obligation to please others (especially the self-appointed church leadership), and that at my core I was "bad", simply by nature of being born human. Oh, and if that wasn't specific enough, being a female - a daughter of Eve - made me responsible for the fallen-ness of the male demographic, as well.

So which perspective is true? Is my friend wrong to embrace the faith that has been her rescue, her comfort and her reason for putting one foot in front of the other every day? Am I wrong for choosing to walk away from the system that instilled in me beliefs which contributed to unhealthy relationships with myself and others? Must I choose one view as "The Truth" and then be prepared to defend it? Is it permissible to claim MY truth, while allowing my friend to have hers?

This gets tricky. Oftentimes we feel we are righteous in our tolerance of others' beliefs if we quietly pity them for their erroneous ideas, rather than overtly warring with them. We may feel secretly proud of how charitable we are, while inwardly pitying their ignorance. Is that really love, though. I say it's not. In fact, I REALLY dislike the word "pity". To me, pity is condescending, while compassion implies a humble understanding or at least a willingness to try to understand the validity of another's perspective.

The weeks leading up to a presidential election amidst a purported pandemic are a breeding ground for all manner of disagreement and strife with the people in our lives. I think I've stumbled on my own silver lining, though. Through this season, I am learning much about the concept of truth. I am training myself to answer my inner questions with "yes and no" more often. I am practicing holding the idea of "both" or "all" when I ask myself which view of things is correct. This doesn't come naturally to those of us who were taught that we must know what we believe and be ready to defend it, but it has been really good for me. Oddly, it's taken much of the stress out of the season we are in and has gifted me with a greater capacity to love those around me.

Dogma (religious, political, etc) demands that we resist those who disagree with us and make every effort to reform them, but what if we can just opt out? What if we all just said, "No thanks" to that order. What if the next time we saw a social media post completely opposed to our own belief and just allowed it, no comment and no hard feelings? What if instead, we thought primarily of the fondness we've had for the person making the statement and recognized that we haven't lived the same life they have. What if we took those opportunities as reminders not to "believe everything we think". What if we held compassion for another's perspective?

I've said this before, and yes, I know it sounds a little far-fetched, but I'll say it again. The forces that wish to see humanity destroyed are very sneaky in their approach. They do not come right out and say, "We are here to destroy you". Instead, they use politics, religion and the news media to sew within mankind the seeds of disagreement, which germinate, sprouting argument and resentment before finally maturing into hatred and destruction. But here's the thing: WE ARE BIGGER and by far too powerful to be conquered by outside forces. As long as we commit to standing together, we cannot be brought down. Love and compassion for ourselves and each other truly is the best weapon and it is the only way to be victorious in the assault on our world and all of humanity.

Dear Ones, please love and accept your fellow humans right where they stand. If we can all make this our new "go to" pattern, I think we will truly be blown away by the way our reality can shift. In many spiritual traditions, Love has been called "the force that creates worlds". I wholeheartedly believe this and that its potential is limitless. ❤️❤️❤️

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