Better, pt. 2

Yesterday, I wrote about leaving things a little better than when you came to them.

And last night, I had a fight with someone and it made me think… why don’t we do the same with people?

Why don’t we treat them so they become better people? Really, this just revolves around the Golden Rule. (I like that Wikipedia calls it the “ethic of reciprocity. That makes a lot of sense to me phrased that way.)

So instead of… flipping out last night, I should have just thought to my self, hey, don’t take it personally. It’s not an attack.

Of course, I didn’t come to this revelation until this morning when I was driving to work (late).

I subscribed to Lighthouse Catholic Media CD of the month club (do it) in January, I think, and this month, I received “Shameless: Seeing yourself as God sees you” a talk by Jeff Cavins.

And this morning, I was up to track 11. He mentions a few Bible verses that blow me away.

John 8:3-9

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”

Cross reference those verses with Jeremiah 17:13

“Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”

Cavins said Jesus was writing in the dust, specifically referencing this verse from the Old Testament.

(Verses copied from NIV… I know. I don’t like the language that much either.)

Anyway, if you can get your hands on this CD from your Parish or by joining the CD of the Month club… do it. This will be one of the CDs I listen to over and over again.

That brings me back to making people better…

It reminds me of The Four Agreements. And this specifically relates to my fight last night because I get awful defensive because of shame and because I take things personally.

Don’t take anything personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. (From Toltec Spirit.)

While I don’t “subscribe” to all the ideas behind The Four Agreements, I do think they make sense and fit with Catholicism.

And not taking anything personally fits in with the verses from John.

The men who brought the woman to Jesus were ashamed of something in their own lives. They all left her alone because he was writing their names in the dust because they had forsaken God.

What others say and do is a projection of their own reality… it’s a projection of how everyone else has treated them earlier in the day.

So, when someone said something to me that I took personally last night, that person may have been upset about something else in his day. He wasn’t necessarily upset with me, and I shouldn’t take it personally.

I should have just let it roll off my back (or turn the other check) and let it go.

Instead of my severe reaction, I wouldn’t have added to his previous conflicts of the day. And it wouldn’t have added to mine.

What can we take personally, then?

Actions, repeated habits, promises.

Prayers. Love.

The things that matter.

When someone does something for us, out of love, out of empathy, out of compassion. Those are things that are about us.

Insults, complaints, anger is not about us. Love is.

Love is the only way we should interact with other people, with our neighbors.

Like from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, don’t love humanity, love your neighbors.

God Bless.


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