- janet anderson
- I now live in Victoria, after a couple years on the North Shore of Vancouver, and a (too) brief time in the prairies. Working as an artist, mother and wife (not necessarily in that order), i am striving to live well, to find the truth of God in all things, and to pass on this truth to others.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
okay, here's the truth. sometimes my kids squabble. they're petty and selfish and ignore me and each other. they squelch patience and stoke annoyance. they literally drive me to drink (usually tea).
i wonder if you are nervous about my post title, that you're hoping i'm not about to say my children are my enemies. fear not!
and then there are days like today, days when somehow the tree of the spirit has actually popped out some fruit. hallelujah! they're sweet and helpful and complementary and even affectionate. sadly, i have no idea what the formula is to cultivate these glorious times, so i'll just have to enjoy them when they arrive.
i was watching my kids tonight before bed, laughing with each other, traipsing around in their jammas, electric toothbrushes at the ready, and i thought "when is love ever easier than this?". the childhood love of siblings, easy and comfortable, deficient of the sicknesses of adult love - control and jealousy, manipulation and self-preserving fear. i know i used to love my brother like this, and i also remember this love ending, and the pain of that betrayal. i pray i pray i pray that my children can hold on for as long as possible - and that instead of ending the love sinks deep down into them, where it remains cherished and safe.
I finished the book i was reading last week*, a delight from cover to cover. In it there's a conversation between a retired therapist and a detective about "near enemies". this is a psychological concept describing two expressions of emotion that look the same, but are actually opposites. for example: attachment as love, or pity as compassion. love always wants the best for others, even if that brings hurt to ourselves. attachment can look like love, but is actually more about controlling and manipulating someone to meet our own needs, it's self-preservation over sacrifice.
pity necessitates a feeling of superiority, whereas compassion involves empathetic equality. these are termed "near enemies" because the negative emotion can easily masquerade as the positive, even to the person feeling the emotion. for example, when i smile at the homeless man who's always outside the mall downtown, do i smile because i see him as an equal human being, deserving of kindness? or do i smile because i think i should show him compassion since he's screwed up his life so much? it's hard to ferret out that motivation, and quite honestly, i'm not sure which is correct.
this has really made me think about the reality of my heart, my deep motives and beliefs. how much of my compassion is pity? how much of my love is attachment? i read Jesus' words this morning "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees..." and was struck again with how completely ugly those deep places in me can be. how ugly they are.
with the "idle no more" campaign i've been trying to diagnose my emotions towards the Canadian Native community, and it's a deep well my friends. i wish i could say i have compassion, but all i find in me is pity, and a growing desire for my redemption from it. it's horrible. i feel ignorant and indoctrinated. i'm hoping that recognition is a good first step... i want to change.
a few weeks ago my 8 year old asked me "why do we go to high school? we've already learned everything in elementary school, why do we just have to keep learning it again?". i have no idea where this came from, and the first answer that came to mind was "the more you learn, the more you realize you have more to learn", but on second thought i decided to leave this depressing axiom for someone else to tell her. it really does suck that growth entails a deeper understanding of the need for much more growth. always more!! it's exhausting isn't it? just when i think i've made some real progress, a layer is peeled back and i glimpse the chasm beneath.
ugh, i'm getting squirmy just thinking about it.
i might just put off the inner chasm work until tomorrow. tonight a warm bath, good book and sweet husband are calling. (not all at once!). and a home filled with the echoes of a day well loved.
*The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny