“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.” ~ Kristin Armstrong
I resemble the quote above. I just finished my first full week of teaching three college classes. It’s four late evenings a week. A couple of interesting things happened. First, I thought I’d be exhausted by the Thursday night. I wasn’t! I felt great on the drive home, energized by my students. However, when I woke up in the morning my head was in a fog and I felt like everything I’m doing to going to fail, or worse be mediocre. This post is my attempt to unravel my feelings of inadequacy.
The second thing that happened was that I noticed a theme emerging from the play I’m directing and the movies I chose for my dramatic structure class. Measure for Measure, and most of the movies are about flawed and damaged people trying to protect themselves. Some of them commit terrible acts, or are forced to face their woundedness. But in almost every case they are redeemed by people who love and forgive them.
Then there was the Larry Nassar case. He sexually abused more than 150 young girls and women gymnasts including some Olympic champions. Thursday night as we were leaving class, my students couldn’t help but bring up the case and how they thought he got what he deserved. All the way home I was thinking about my themes for the year; how we’re all flawed, sometimes making huge mistakes, and that possibly unconditional love and forgiveness might just redeem us all. But it’s hard to go against conventional wisdom. I mean, I feel torn about such cases. Do we just let violent offenders go without any consequences? Do we shower them with love and expect them to change?
I have no clear answers for those questions, except that I think it’s always good to defend the weak. And how can we learn if we don’t face the consequences of what we do?
As I was ruminating about these issues, the book Conversations with God came to mind. In the book, Neale Donald Walsch asks God a very important question about the evil we humans have created. God said something that confirmed some deeply buried beliefs I had never dared to speak out loud, “”Evil is that which you call evil. Yet even that I love, for it is only through that which you call evil that you can know good; only through that which you call the work of the devil that you can know and do the work of God. … I do not love ‘good’ more than ‘bad.’ Hitler went to heaven. When you understand this, you will understand God.” Then when Neale says that he was raised to believe that good and bad do exist, God replies, “Everything is ‘acceptable’ in the sight of God, for how can God not accept that which is? … Yet hold to your beliefs and stay true to your values … still examine them one by one.”
Well, this year I’m examining my beliefs about what we do to ourselves and each other. For now holding myself and others accountable is a good thing. The discussions that abound right now about human rights of all kinds are good because we need to address the rage of those who have been mistreated for so many centuries. We have to allow them to tell their stories so they can heal. In turn we all need to tell our stories in order to see where we’ve become uncaring and cruel so we can choose new ways to interact with each other.
On a more personal note, during this process of preparing to direct Measure for Measure, I realize that I am so hard on myself. I blame myself for not being sensitive enough, yet like two of the main characters in the play, I’m tempted to shut off my emotions because it’s just too painful to be bombarded daily with new allegations of abuse, or new legislation that hurts the people who are in the most need. I expect myself to be perfectly loving, accepting, compassionate, and forgiving. But I’m human and sometimes I call people idiots and shake may head at their lack of compassion. Then I think, who am I to judge? Living is a complicated proposition, unless I remember that I’m not the one in charge of the big picture. I’m merely one of the actors on the stage.
So, we’re all works in progress and I’ll try to be better at giving myself a break when I’m not as “good” as I think I should be and do the same for those around me.
Thanks for reading, commenting and pressing the like button.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.