“If only…” and “How come?” have, for many years, been pills of choice in my medicine cabinet. Whenever I find myself discouraged, I ache, and I’m tempted to medicate myself with yearnings for unbounded abilities – like longing for infinite wisdom, or another extreme, desperately wanting an alternate life with ignorance of suffering.
I have struggled with exhausting energy on circumstances that I have no power to change. There have been many moments in which I have questioned God’s creative process. Why did He deliberately sculpt me with particular inner and outer characteristics? How could God allow pain, or even absence, from certain people who should have loved me by default?
Mulling over these questions has lead to frequent battles with comparison. Countless times, I’ve placed other people’s surface-level circumstances on gold pedestals. I have envied the green lawns of others without understanding that they, too, are surviving with the beautiful mess of fertilizer and roots underneath.
Lately, the words, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” have taken on a different meaning in my life. In Matthew chapter 22, verse 39, Jesus responds with these words after a religious expert asks him, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”. He goes on to say that this command is equally important to the first and greatest instruction to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Although the religious experts were so preoccupied with laws, Jesus was concerned with the wholeness of love.
The truth is that I have not treated the call to love others as a balancing act with loving myself. My friends and family would likely describe me as being kind (sometimes, too kind), gentle in manner, and maybe even hard-working. I wonder, though, if my potential to wholeheartedly embody love is inhibited every time that I am overly allured by unchangeable circumstances.
Angela Davis once said,”I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
I wonder if Davis meant that it is unproductive to solely surrender to circumstances that can’t be changed.
In my life, perhaps, the real, fulfilling work lies in shifting my perspective. How do I make peace with all the unique characteristics that shape my journey? How can I do this while also changing anything that has kept me from unapologetically embracing my existence? From healing?
If only it could all be so simple, but it rarely ever is.
Yet, maybe, without intricacy, there would be no need for growth.