“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ ” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak
“Some of us think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Hermann Hess
Does this happen to you? It’s your birthday, or anniversary, or some other special day for you, and you don’t get the present you were hoping for, or your loved ones don’t even notice that’s it’s a special day? Or you’re telling a story and something interrupts and no one notices that you didn’t get to finish your story? Or you’re feeling down and no one notices? Then in each instance you feel irritated, angry and upset because other people didn’t respect or understand you? They were so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they completely forgot about you? That’s happened to me more times than I care to count and for years I didn’t understand why I would get so upset.
As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been studying A Course In Miracles this year. One of the concepts has baffled me a great deal. It’s the idea of “specialness”. The first time I read about this concept, which the course says “…is a lack of trust in anyone except yourself.” I felt extremely uncomfortable. Aren’t we supposed to feel that we are special? That we have gifts and talents the world needs which only we can share? In a way I was affronted by the idea that none of us are special. However, I have to admit that I have had an internal battle for most of my life between feeling ordinary and feeling special, humble and arrogant. I never understood what that struggle was about until I began studying A Course In Miracles.
Last week the concept came up again in my studies and this time I understood the idea that was being conveyed. As I’ve written many times, each of us lives in our own little world. We think of our ideas and our lives as paramount. Our well being is more important to us than that of others. I didn’t like to accept that fact about myself. The Course says it this way, “He who is ‘worse’ than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat.” It’s sad to say but I’ve done that, and had it done to me. I’ve rejoiced when I got the better of others and I’ve suffered when others have defeated me. Maybe it was just the fact that I was praised for something I did, and others weren’t. Or someone cheated me out of some money, or got the job I wanted and made me feel terrible. As I was reading that section of the course, I realized that it is this concept of specialness that has caused so many problems for us throughout the ages.
Something I’m still working to understand is that we are all part of God which means that every single person, maybe even every single thing that exists is my brother. Someone once said it this way, we’re all drops in the larger ocean. God is the ocean. One drop is not better or worse than any other drop but we’re all needed to complete the ocean. We all have our specific function to perform to keep the ocean healthy.
I am happy that with all that’s been going on over the last few years, I finally understand on a new level why we lash out at each other. Self-preservation is one of the most fundamental reactions we experience whenever something happens to us. If we don’t feel like we’re being understood and appreciated over a long period of time, then the pressure builds up and our hurt and anger blow the lid off the cooker and that’s when bad things happen.
My husband and I were talking about this concept in the car as we were driving on our vacation. I said, so now I understand that when we attack others we think we’re protecting ourselves, but it never works. It makes the situation worse. I loved what my husband said, “Yep. The human race hasn’t learned that one yet.” Jesus asked us to turn the other cheek and to love those who despitefully use us. Do I have enough courage to put away my sword? I very much want to. I want to stand defenseless, which is another concept of the Course, that defenselessness is strength.
When I think of the concept of defenselessnes as strength I think of the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza, whose entire family was killed during the Rowandan genocide in the early 1990s. She wrote about her extraordinary experience of survival with seven other women confined to a bathroom for 91 days in her book, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rowandan Holocaust, written with Steve Erwin. I saw her speak during one of Wayne Dyer’s talks on PBS. She told about how she and the other women were found by the men perpetuating the terror. Some of them were men she knew. She stood her ground ready to give up her life and she told them she forgave them. When she told that story, I thought that I would not have been able to stand among the murderers as they held their machetes ready to kill me, nor would I have been able to forgive them for killing my loved ones. Yet she was able to do that and they bowed to her strength. She lived to tell the tale of what she learned from those horrific events.
I began these posts over two years ago as a forum for myself to write out and make sense of my experiences and the things I’m learning as I live my life. I write today’s post because I feel I’m at a turning point. I can’t see the world in the ways I used to. And I’m inspired to continue on this journey to become a better, stronger, more loving person. I hope you will continue to come along with me. And if you don’t understand what I’m writing about, I hope you’ll ask questions, or challenge my attempts to express what I’m learning.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015
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