the other morning as I faced the herculean task of cleaning out our storage shed my daughter let out a high pitched scream "nooooooo!".
I pulled my headset off and looked up to see our trusty family dog, the dog that lies on the bathroom floor with my kids when they have the stomach flu, or comforts you if you are crying during a sad movie. our dog who is always there for us, and is a tender heart, I see that same dog, chasing a tiny baby bunny rabbit...and then...killing it. "look away!" I yelled at Phoebe our 9 year old, but it was too late. the beautiful baby bunny was no more, and our loyal and beautiful and kind dog, was a murderer.
I didn't have to explain the circle of life to my daughter, or explain our dog's behavior because this isn't the first perfect animal to be demolished by him in front of the kids. I did have to remind her to not be angry at him because that's nature. yes our dog is as loving and loyal and gentle as they come, but he is still a dog. nature is a beast that cannot be tamed. all dogs still will kill, just like all animals.
why am I sharing this despair and grief from an early Saturday morning? because I think our greatest trap as humans is when we think, we ourselves are different.
I remember at an after school party in 7th grade, everyone hanging out in the yard of a student's yard and having fun, and then someone mentions they have marijuana, and oh, how everyone was going to smoke it. I declined. I didn't explain why, or what I've seen marijuana do to people or families, I just declined. but heard their excuses, "I'm not going to be a pothead, I'm not like that."
I heard that phrase a lot in college also, going to a conservative college like BYU with a religious law of abstinence before marriage, and then having a lot of kids going out until 3 am with their boyfriends/girlfriends and insisting nothing will happen because "I'm not that kind of person."
I tell my kids all the time, you are NOT different. yes, YOU could be that kind of person because you fit the only requirement. you are ALIVE and you are HUMAN. the greatest mistake is when we separate ourselves from others and think we are different.
first we do it in the negative way, "I'm not like those horrible parents who neglect their kids". Well, no, maybe you aren't right now. But I'm sure if we took two minutes we could find out how you do neglect your kids in a different way, or neglect yourself. So yeah, maybe you aren't shooting heroin and missing the school graduation ceremony. but could you think that maybe, if you had that person's life, and parents, and beliefs and mindset, and decision making skills, that maybe that could be you?
we so easily dismiss horrible behavior and look down on it in other people because it's just wrong, and we aren't like that. we think it makes us feel better, but really, it makes everything worse.
there's no compassion. there's no understanding. don't get me wrong, this isn't excusing craptastic behavior. no, this is removing yourself from the totally stupid idea that you ARE LESS HUMAN than, oh I don't know, OTHER HUMANS.
when we get stuck in this negative habit of judging, labeling and excusing other people's decisions as "different" than ours would be in the same exact situation, we suffer. maybe even the habit of paying attention to what everyone else is doing in the first place makes us suffer. I know it did for me, and still does if I choose to go down that way of thinking.
and with that same viewpoint, what happens when you see someone become successful?
you think they are different, you think they must have something special going for them. sure, they can accomplish their goals, but not you. no, you are different. now isn't that a nice tidy little excuse tied up in a bow? we are all different and separate and so yeah, some people have amazing lives and succeed, but not you, no not in that way. because they have it better or more connections. they are separate from your way of living. that could never be you. so we quickly judge, and analyze and put them in a separate category than us.
and that my friends, makes you suffer. it makes us all suffer. we are all HUMANS. and we have to embrace that fact. and until we can embrace that we are all connected and all the same, we will suffer. we all have the capacity to be awful human beings. we also all have the power to be AMAZING human beings.
it's all up to you. yes, all of it.
want to be an amazing mom?
want to give up that addiction?
want to stop an unhealthy family trait or habit?
most small businesses (and large) are in the red for several YEARS, before making a consistent profit. and everyone acknowledges this. our local power company has loans for MILLIONS of dollars. a POWER company. and this is just normal.
so why in our personal lives do we hold ourselves to this insane standard that if we try to improve or start something new, it must succeed right away? if it doesn't show a profit in our life right away more than the work, we ditch it. "it's too hard" we gasp out and give up.
yes, changing is hard. but so is being miserable.
feeling that compassion and oneness is also difficult, excruciating sometimes too, but feeling separate is a suffering we can end. and that can start with you.
look at your life. look at what you don't like, look at what you do like. do your kids have some poopy habits that drive you insane? make a game plan to stop them. do your kids never pick up or listen, GET HELP and find ways to have boundaries. stop being a doormat to your children and your negative inner voice. boss up and change your life.
you can do it. sure, you still will have flaws and tendencies to judge and label, that' normal. just like it's normal for my dog to crunch off a baby bunny's head. it's in our inherent NATURE. but that doesn't mean we accept the negative tendencies to be who we are.
no we get to choose what we become, and what we don't become. and you do that with your own life, every day, in each moment. don't sloppily make your bed this morning, or put something away in the wrong place saying "later". do it right, and do it right right now. and when you pray today, pray for more compassion, pray to see other people as God sees them, pray to see yourself as God sees you.
better yet, find a quiet place and ask the question: "Who am I?" and then spend 5 minutes in silence listening to an answer.
that will start to change everything. because all of the amazing Christ like qualities you think you can't be like or have? yes, you are like that. you aren't that different at all.