Love Class

Warning:  Rated “S” for Spiritual.  Content may be inappropriate for atheists and agnostics.

crossAs I re-read my ‘Intention to Love’ declaration I noticed a tone of enthusiasm and self-assuredness.  Forty days ago I jumped headlong into Lent with a commitment to love – everyone.  What was I thinking?

It didn’t take long for me to be bowled over by the hard-to-love tidal wave.  Which I could have predicted and prepared for if not for a premature self-satisfaction with my success in loving criminals and sassy teens.

Caroline Myss advises watching what you wish for.  If one asks for patience, one will be presented with three people or situations that try your patience to its limit.  How else would you learn?  Did you expect that patience would fall into your lap just because you asked for it?  Did you think you’d be asked to forgive Santa Claus?

Truthfully, yes.  I had hoped that setting a conscious intention to love would ease the process.  Apparently, it had the opposite effect.  If this is Life School, I signed up for the A.P. class in Love.  And it was more than I bargained for.

One of my first assignments was to find love for a family member who conducted herself in an irresponsible manner.  It was an old story, a skipping record that keeps repeating, making it increasingly difficult to tolerate.

I tackled my assignment with prayer – the old standby.  I prayed for this person to be relieved of her evil ways.  I prayed hard for tolerance.  Nothing changed.  My prayers were like rubber balls bouncing off a wall.

I sat with my  frustration for a while before raising a hand to ask for help.  ‘What am I missing?’  An image of a mirror came to me.  Cautiously, I turned the mirror on myself – on my spiritual arrogance to be exact.  Who was I to think this person needed help?  Maybe she was fine and I was the one with the problem.

I could sense teacher nodding approval.  I was onto something.  My prayers changed to pleas of protection for this family member from me, from my harsh criticism, and for all the ways she has to put up with me. Instantly, the ugliness of her behavior melted away.  Love flowed in as effortlessly and forcefully as water past a newly released dam.  The lesson was clear:  trying or wanting to change others is not loving.  Relationship 101.  I should have remembered that.

With my semester project behind me, I still had to face final exams – Holy Week.  The testing was as intense and stressful as I remember from my college days.  My trying-to-be-more-loving self, now humbled, met with an endless stream of themed challenges:  Loving the Self.

When one has minored in Too Much all her life, and received High Honors in it, she is loathe to dump that ‘accomplishment.’  But if one wants to also claim proficiency in Love, Too Much must go.

Self-critics came out of the woodwork like an infestation of pests that had met with a fumigating spray.  Each had a label – too weak, too loud, too intense, too shy, too bold, too scared, too broken.  ‘Too’ was like a gong clanging in the background of my mind, and often in the foreground.  The world, including my dear family, was more than willing to help me see my too-muchness.

My final exam felt less like a test and more like an unguided trek across dangerous terrain in extreme weather.  And all I brought was a flashlight.  Fortunately, I spotted some encouragement along the way.  There was this from Tama: You do not have to be perfect to lead.  Someone needs what you have learned from your struggle.  And this one from Glennon:  Maybe I am who I am for a purpose.  Maybe I’ve been wasting my energy trying to be different.

As I contemplated the many gurus I admire, it occurred to me that they had their own ‘too-muchness.’  Mother Theresa was described as impatient.  Look what her impatience did for the world!  Gandhi was intolerant (of poverty and oppression) which may have stemmed from his intolerant character.  And Einstein was rebellious.  Need I say more?

We are flawed characters, us humans.  But so lovable.  So deserving.  So valuable.

I rose on Easter Sunday wondering if I passed my Love class.  Did Jesus wonder that when he ascended to Heaven?  Was he worried that maybe he could have done better, saved more people?

I may find myself enrolled in Love Class again next semester and the one after that.  I’ll take it as many times as I have to in order to excel.  And I’ll continue to teach it too.  Because we teach best what we most need to learn.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sacha
    Apr 01, 2013 @ 18:12:08

    Once again you’ve got me thinking, feeling, introspecting – eager to share your wisdom with clients and Facebook friends. I particularly loved your thoughts around getting opportunities to practice what we ask for! I never thought of it quite that way – i always saw them more as tests that emerge right after a proclamation that puts us into training until we get it right – GEESH do you think that’s a hair stressful, perfectionistic and military adult!? Santa Claus will now pop into my mind as a beautiful reminder of getting what i asked for in a non Santa body. thank you!

    Reply

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