13a But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened…
― Hebrews 3:13New International Version (NIV)
“If we learn to open our hearts- anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
― Pema Chödrön
“I used to be very suspicious of other women. I felt it was my duty to prove myself to other women. To defend my imaginary superiority. To hide my imaginary inferiority. I felt like I could never let my guard down, never relax. This was before I found my perspectacles. Now, mostly, instead of perceiving other women as competition, I put on my glasses and I see each woman God places on my path as a gift, an invitation, a resource, sent to teach me something I don’t yet know. Sent to help me heal in a specific way that only she can. Even when it becomes clear that the relationship is not going to work out, that we will have to part ways, she is still a gift because I am learning how to part ways with another child of God lovingly and gracefully. And so I get to practice taking care of myself and others. And I am able to relax. To stop grabbing and hiding. To understand that God sends exactly who we need, 100 percent of the time.”
I was sitting at my desk sifting through emails and other life-related stuff- trying to balance my work and life and everything in it, when that feeling surfaced. That itchy-soul feeling. The kind of feeling you get when you know life and seemingly everything in it is driving you stark, raving mad. Making you feel crazy.
It starts small- a slip of the tongue or a minor offense that can easily be apologized for and then swiped under the table, brushed off as an anomaly. But then it comes again. That itchiness- worsening when something else in your life goes horribly awry. You have ‘one of those days’ which leads to another of the same. To another and another. Someone hurts you, you hurt someone else. And the offenses grow and develop into something ugly. So the cycle continues, the itchiness growing into discontentment. Frustration. Anger and resentment.
Patterns become cycles which grow into lifestyles if we are not careful.
And those days which begin as just small inconveniences can lead to a quantifiable measure of difficult days before we know it, causing us to believe and harmfully develop a mindset that says ‘life is just plain, downright horrible’. And that it’s sometimes just not worth the effort.
Not worth the effort to understand and listen from the heart, that is. For that is the moment we realize: we must examine the heart to see if the issue was stemming from there in the first place.
Sometimes we need to have an open-heart surgery. A figurative open-heart surgery, that is.
Today I had to perform one on myself. A procedure to open my heart rather than close it off to the circumstances and concerns I was facing. And instead of feeling hard and angry toward the issue I was presented with- which might have been my normal bent, I was able to, little by little, see the issue at hand through some dandy perspectacles. Able to claim love over frustration. Embrace joy over resentment. Anne Lamott says sometimes experiencing glimpses of heaven is just wearing a new pair of glasses, and I concur. Seeing our troubles and concerns- our frustrations and grievances- through fresh eyes, as how it might look like from another vantage point is sometimes all we need so as to open our hearts to one another.
Because sometimes those perspectacles put everything we thought was horrible into crystal, clear focus. Causing us to see that things weren’t as bad as we thought they might have been. Not as insurmountable as we first envisioned.
And all because our perspectacles enabled us to keep both an open mind and an open heart.