Malevolent or Benevolent –
Last night I listened to a podcast about the psychology of a stalker. A young woman, through no fault of her own, had encountered a patron at her work and treated him nicely, the way she did every customer. The man who received her professional courtesy and kindness took it as a gesture of a personal declaration of her love for him. From then on he would show up at her work, her home, parties and other places. At first, he would watch her for hours, then he began writing poetry, calling her at home, declare his love for her and her for him at different and unexpected places. She reported his behavior to the police, depended on friends to keep him away, moved twice to locations almost five-hundred miles apart. Still, he found her.
He wrote a blog about being a stalker in which he wrote about a love that was benevolent; kind, kindly, kindhearted, big-hearted, good-natured, good, benign, compassionate, caring. He insisted she misunderstood him and accused him of being malevolent; malicious, hostile, evil-minded, baleful, evil-intentioned, venomous, evil, malign, malignant, rancorous, vicious, vindictive, vengeful. He had plans of “fake” kidnapping her and after she went away with him, falling in love with him. His behavior was spiraling and finally, after attacking another woman, he was put in jail for thirteen months for assault, stalking and predatory behavior. Before, during and after being incarcerated, he wrote a book about a man who fell in love with a beautiful woman who eventually learned to love him. People can find the book for sale online today and the blog he still writes.
Love gone wrong, gone bad, corrupted, coercive and corrosive is not love but selfishness painted in illusion. As I listened to the podcast last night I couldn’t help but think a lot of what’s wrong with our world today is people not knowing the difference between malevolent and benevolent.
There are days when I become frustrated that the world isn’t simpler. Everything around me seems complicated. There are dozens of hoops to jump through, obstacles to overcome, and challenges to be met.
A person I know is still dealing with the fall out of a bad decision that has haunted him for almost two years. He’s dealing with it the best he can but if he could he would make it all go away. He feels like he has paid his penance yet his punishment seems ongoing with no end in sight.
Another person I know is struggling with complications of a mental illness. This is a battle I know well. They are making the best decisions for themselves they can but family and friends are interfering and unable to understand the choices being made.
I was reminded yesterday of the death of someone close to many people who live in the area. It’s been a few months but since the beloved has passed away but those who were closest to them are still swimming in the ocean of grief and adjustment to the new normal.
Life is complicated. We don’t make it that way, it just is that way. We can make it even more daunting with selfishness, ego, and biases but even those who have chosen to walk the path of wisdom, acceptance and peace still find the path of life difficult to walk.
To Trust, To Share –
This afternoon I was in Lewisburg, Tennessee for a meeting. I arrived early along with several other people and we were sharing with each other big and small life events which have happened recently. There were several birthdays which happened in January, someone had gotten married, another person was recently engaged and other good news passed along to the group.
We know deep down that other people have lives we know nothing about. We understand that friends, acquaintances, even family members are experiencing things on the road of life that we may never know unless they choose to share.
Too often we are absorbed in our own worlds and forget about the countless worlds of others which surround us. Sometimes this focus on ourselves isn’t selfishness but survival. We are going through challenges, fighting battles and just trying to stay alive. Sometimes we are myopic and consumed with whatever is happening in our lives there’s not room for others.
Life is sharing, connecting, enjoying and struggling with those with whom we share the road of life. Good and bad, negative and positive or somewhere in between when we open our stories to others and they, in turn, trust us with theirs relationships happen.
Yesterday, on my way to the county recycling and refuse collection center with a truck full of yard debris and household trash, I was descended upon by a small blue four-door sedan. I was going slow because of the junk in the back of the truck and then slowed down again when the speed limit was reduced to thirty miles per hour. The car behind me was in a hurry and even though we were on a small, two-lane, curvy double lined road and there was a car approaching from the opposite direction the sedan began to pass me! He didn’t have room to pass and no reason to put us all in jeopardy so I sped up a bit to hopefully give him pause to resume his position behind me. This didn’t work, I put on the brakes, he flew past me with not much room to spare from a head-on collision with the car in the adjacent lane. I was more than agitated and honked the horn while giving him a; “What was the reason for that kind of recklessness” gesture?
I arrived at the refuse and recycle center, unloaded the truck and on my way back to the house I thought about the sheer ridiculousness of the driver. He put his life, the life of the driver of the other vehicle, and mine in danger to arrive mere seconds ahead of when he would have arrived if he’d chosen to drive safer acknowledging the value of his life and those around him.
What if there had been a wreck? How many people, family, and friends, would’ve been impacted because of his impatience? Too often, we are only concerned with our agenda, our list, what we “have to” get done. Driven by our busyness, our over packed, over-stuffed schedules we lose sight of others and ourselves. The eventual result is wrecked lives, a loss of what’s most important and the love and grace we should have for one another.
the Best –
Someone asked me today; “What if I can’t be everything I need to be? For me? For my family?” It’s an honest, humble and vulnerable question. Loving others means being concerned with the best person we can be for those we love and others who are a part of our lives.
I told the person who asked me the question; “The fact that you are asking the question, considering these thoughts, shows you are not a selfish person.When you are open to doing the best for people who aren’t you, considering other’s needs as much as, if not more, than yourself is the place to start and stay.”
When we are concerned with how our lives impact those around us our worldview expands. We move from selfishness to selflessness. We seek to be servants instead of expecting to be served.
Balance is key. We should continue to care for ourselves and be sure not to burn up or out. After all, if we can’t take care of us, we can’t take care of others. We must not expect to be faultless, but rather seek progression, not perfection in our pursuit of giving to others.
Being the best us we can be includes giving our best to others.
No Matter How Slow –
My pickup truck was full and almost overflowing today on the way to the county dump. I drove slowly for fear of losing some of my load and hoped no one in a hurry came zooming up behind me. The nearest refuse and recycling center is only three miles from our house but it took an extra long time to get there. As I kept one eye on the road and the other on the junk in the bed of the truck I reflected on things in our life that we need to get rid of that slow us down on our journey of life.
There’s something about going to the dump that’s cathartic. As I kept one eye on the road and the other on the junk in the bed of the truck I reflected on things in our life that we need to get rid of that slow us down on our journey of life. The hurts, habits, hangups, shallowness, selfishness, sinfulness we all have and need to unload so we can navigate our way to grace, love, peace, kindness, acceptance and contentment. Our human drive for perfection tries to convince us that we get rid of the refuse as quickly as possible but most times it doesn’t work that way and we must carry parts of our load longer than we’d prefer.
When I arrived at the center the gates were closed and they were changing out the large canister where I needed to put my junk. I waited and waited for almost thirty minutes. Finally, the center reopened and I was able to unload. As I threw away the last of the unwanted stuff and hopped back in the truck it was a relief to not have to go so slow, worry about the extra stuff and made it home much faster.
Plato teaches; “never judge another’s progress, no matter how slowly.” I like this quote, especially on days when the going is slow, the delays are many and the junk keeps piling up.
Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.”
The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.
The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.
He sat a few feet from me and I watched as tears began to fill his eyes. It dawned on him, perhaps for the first time, the sum of his actions, words, thoughts and the effect they had upon his family. He had been so wrapped up in trying to control situations and people that he didn’t realize how many things had slipped from his grasp. Now, in a time of crisis and questioning, of rejection and regret he understood. Silence filled the space between us and I waited as he composed himself enough to speak. Until this point disappointments, difficulties and despair had been things which were outside of him, people and events were to blame. Now, he realized he was the designer of his own defeat, a victim of his own ego and self obsession.
It’s never easy to achieve and sustain self-awareness. There are moments when we see ourselves for who we really are; the weakness, selfishness and shallowness. The cold reality sets in and we often reach for the blanket of judgement and justification to stave off the chill. To recognize our real selves, to accept the imperfections, insecurities and insatiable desire to control, coerce and craft others and the world in our image is the most humbling and hurtful lesson to learn.
When we arrive at this place of suffering do we choose to find relief by reconstructing the illusion or embrace the brokenness as healing?