“…do everything…in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” St. Francis de Sales
It happens, I suppose. The longer we live the more we are given to deal with, those things that are oh so precious, as well as those things that break our hearts, haunt our nights and rob us of peace. Those people that could be, maybe should be, close, they aren’t and they cut us deep. They slander our good names, hearing only whispers of decades past, a past they were never present for, and they hurt those of us who are easily hurt. They do this even while knowing little of the daily lives we lead, without witnessing the evidence of what is held in our hearts through everyday decisions, however small, that multiply to create a life worthy for our children, worthy of great friendships, worthy of great love.
My heart aches. I seesaw between anger and compassion, feeling both deeply, and therein lies the greatest struggle. To feel intensely is an energy-sapper, a constant battle, a joy-stealer. Oh, to be one whose shoulder could be brushed off. But I am not, and so I ache. And I look inside, to see if there is any truth to those hurtful words thrown at me, because if there is, well, it must be fixed.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault…’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…” Philippians 2:14-15
But I find I have already fought this particular battle now publicly laid before me, years ago. I have been hit below the belt, and why? Anger attempts to rise. I squash it, again and again. I remember what a wise friend once told me, “Hurt people hurt people.” Deep down under hate is incredible hurt. And then compassion arises and I realize the very realness of it, much greater than my own current and temporary hurt. I know when my own hurt has at times been translated as anger, and I have an inkling of comprehension.
Not that this excuses hurtful behavior, but it diminishes rage and replaces it with…hope. Hope for this one, hope for myself, hope for us, hope for all humanity. We cannot respond to hate with hate. We just can’t. Because hate times two is miserable. And healing will never come.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Perhaps this proverb should come with a disclaimer. The first time we react differently to a person, maybe there’s no change in response. The second time, still nothing. But by the fiftieth time, perhaps. Healing and trust take much time to rebuild. They may begin to see our hearts, they may begin to see the evidence of genuine love, they may begin to believe it, and they may no longer feel threatened. Because whatever our intentions are, they should never be to cause insecurity in another human being, another soul just like us. Because we all know how that feels.
“True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray and ask for the courage to love.” Mother Teresa