“A child is born with no state of mind, blind to the ways of mankind; God is smiling on you, but He’s frowning too, because only God knows what you go through”.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – “The Message”
As a parent, I want my children to avoid the pain I’ve experienced, but it seems like I am powerless to do so. Both as a child and a parent I have often felt out of control of my life, so I sought escape from the pain with things like drugs, sex, food, gambling…well, you know what I mean, right? The guilt and shame of my behavior was unbearable, and I don’t want our children, or anyone, to have to experience that pain, or the consequences (like HIV) that are the result. I can’t imagine going through what I put my parents through. I’m not as self-centered as I used to be, I guess, because I will do whatever I can to spare our kids.
People often share with me their devastating personal tragedies, and the mental, emotional and physical challenges that affects their lives. The difference between sharing and complaining is whether or not we are living in the solution. Most of the time, we won't surrender until we are humiliated. Being humiliated is when we feel ashamed and foolish because our dignity and self-respect has been injured. It takes courage to share those painful situations that caused us to be who we are, and when we do, we often feel better and the pain is usually diminished. When we are in pain we learn to practice humility. Humility is defined as a modest or low view of one's own importance. When we hurt, we realize there are some things that are bigger than us.
For example, the U.S. Congress should be humiliated by their obvious greed and lack of empathy for those of us in need. If they had any humility, they might be able to care about those who need cancer treatments, Headstart, food stamps, HIV medications and unemployment benefits. The dysfunction in Congress is an example of the collective ego of America being driven by the pathology of fear, but it can be changed with a little humility. Unfortunately, it seems Americans “in positions of power” will have to suffer and be humiliated before a power greater than themselves can restore them (and us) to sanity.
In life, the trick is to be able to know the difference between practicing humility and being a co-dependent enabler. That kind of discernment is tricky because in both cases we often feel disrespected. My powerlessness with my children (and America) has to be balanced with my responsibility and desire to be a loving parent (citizen). The pain of watching your child (country/community) hurting is a humbling experience, but sometimes we have to deal with the pain, yet not let it make us sick.
Humility is acknowledging that we are not in control of the world, and people are going to do what they will. The best I can do is to create an atmosphere conducive to healing, and I am responsible to try to do that, in spite of my feelings. We all are. With friends, associates, spouses, and especially our children, humility means being able to be love and respect others even when you feel your not getting your way. The truth is, it is natural to be self-ish, but it takes effort to practice humility. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
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