Are you wondering why I have a picture of a happy couple to represent the title of this blog?
I paused for a very long time after reading that first line. Stunned, blown away, contemplative, relieved are just a few of the adjectives to describe my feelings in the moment. I looked around in awe. How could this statement and it's impact escape me all the years of my life.
It was the first line in the book a friend recommended to me called The Road Less Traveled by M Scott Peck.
Why did it hit me so hard? Because it was truth I had not become conscious of yet. Truth sets us free if we embrace it. I had been swirling in a cesspool of self-loathing for as long as I had memory. You're not good enough, you're not good enough perpetually echoed in my head. That kind of mindset has grave repercussions and I was living them, suffering huge losses both emotionally and financially because of the men I chose that I hoped would love me. How could I be so stupid? reigned supreme in my psyche. I thought I owned the corner market on idiocy and being unlovable. Sure I recognized my giving nature, but since no one seemed to be interested in loving me back, I bought the lie that I was unlovable. When we buy those kind of lies, we unknowingly make decisions that support our belief about ourselves.
Could it be possible that other people feel unlovable?
Could it be possible that other people unknowingly do stupid things for love too?
Could it be possible that all of humanity is faced with their own demons and grapple with life as I did?
Jesus did teach that we all sin and fall short.
When the religious leaders brought the adulteress Mary Magdalene before him wanting to stone her for her wrongdoing, he proclaimed, Whoever has not sinned can cast the first stone, leaving the crowd silent. We all mess up. And since we all mess up, we all suffer the consequences of our own wrongdoing or the wrongdoing of someone else.
How could we possibly begin to measure each others messes? We can't.
You may be reading this and saying, duh Kim, of course life is difficult. But for me at that time, it was the greatest profundity ever written. My cognitive capacities immediately transported me out of my egocentric wounded self and into an expansive, humanitarian world view. (We are very egocentric when we dominantly live in our wounded self rather than our higher self. It is a stagnate state of being when we obsess on the self with a negative/judgmental perspective.) I was not the only one suffering. I was not the only one who found life difficult. This expert author boldly proclaimed in the first sentence of his book my life-long experience. He legitimized my existence and the existence of humanity. I had been criminalizing myself and in doing so, I could not see the difficulties others may be experiencing too. In that instant, I had compassion for myself and everyone else. I guess life is tough on all of us and maybe, just maybe, I'm okay, I thought. And my self-judgment slowly lessened and grace seeped in.
I had been raised to be a believer. Jesus was my all. Asking him into my heart sealed the deal. This is why I also carried so much guilt into my adult years. My church told me I was now free. I loved Jesus, but I also struggled with self-doubt, love addiction, anxiety and Xanax addiction. I was far from free.
Did they lie to me? I couldn't believe that, so I had been making me wrong. Something had to have been wrong with me.
I loved how The Road Less Traveled reminded me of what Jesus told us, Narrow is the road to life and few find it. Wide is the road that leads to destruction. My life was destructive, but Life is difficult started to stir in me that I had a choice about life.
Very soon after this awakening, another ubiquitous concept crossed my path that felt incredibly connected to the first. Life has pain, but you do not have to suffer, as articulated by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield.
Again, life has pain. It's difficult. But, you do not have to suffer. My initial intuition aligned with this teaching. Suffering is a choice.
It is astounding the simplicity and the magnitudinal consequence of accepting this idea. When we do not feel there are options, when we feel there is no way out, we feel trapped and imprisoned. If there is a way out, we feel free.
These teachings set us free. I recall James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance much finish its work, making you whole and complete, not lacking anything. And from the sermon on the mount in Matthew 7:13-14: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
The wide roaders complain, wallow in victimhood, and blame as I did for a huge portion of my life. The narrow roaders accept the truth, take 100% responsibility for their lives, have compassion for themselves and humanity, and embrace the opportunity to grow. It is not easy to step on this road, but you will find purpose and fulfillment there.
This is higher learning and living.
How did Life is difficult strike you?
And Life has pain but you do not have to suffer?
And trials create perseverance, which makes you whole and complete, not lacking anything?
Which road are you on and which road would you like to be on?
Let these higher thoughts simmer.
And then, do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says.
As any good coach would require and keep you accountable: decide and share with me exactly what you will do to reflect this in your life today.
Now back to my very first question: Are you wondering why I have a picture of a happy couple to represent the title of this blog?
Behind every happy picture, behind every bragging facebook post that screams look at me, is pain. No one is exempt. We cannot measure or judge anyone based upon these pictures. It is possible that they have chosen not to suffer on the narrow path, or they may be choosing the wider road.
Compassion for yourself and others, not jealousy or judgement based upon appearances or anything else is the higher way.
With Accountability, Love, and Fun,