He asked, “Am I too nice?”
Words between people are tricky. Each person has a sense of what “nice” means. Many things in common with how other people think of that word. Many things different.
The word “depression” means different and similar things to each person. Great artists are the people among us who describe common meanings succinctly, and without so much precision that the ideas don’t become so specific as to not be generalizable.
She told us she was depressed. Each of us understands that in our own way, not any of us in her particular way. Perhaps these artistic words can be appreciated by her, as well as by each of us who have had the experience: “I am a flower quickly fading, Here today and gone tomorrow, A wave tossed in the ocean, A vapor in the wind.”
If she were to ask me, “Who am I?” I would choose that artist’s way of answering. She is someone whose name, hurt, doings, fallings, and internal storms are all captured in the singularity of one answer: https://youtu.be/3rT8Re1EIQc
“I am hardened & callous. It’s something I don’t see in myself until it’s pointed out after an exchange with someone, and sometimes not even then. It took years to build up, I guess, & now it’s just who I am…”
The story told in Matthew 16 is known to many as “Peter’s confession” that Jesus is the Christ. Dick and Jane are characters in books aimed at teaching children to read. To retell Peter’s confession in a way to be received with the heart of a child learning to read ultimate truth:
Jane asked Dick, “Who do people say that I am?”
Dick answered, “Some say you’re this person, or that person. People who like you say you are a good person. People who do not like you say you are a bad person.”
Then Jane asked Dick, “But who do YOU say that I am?”
“A good person,” answered Dick.
Jane moaned skeptically, “You only say I am good because you like me.”
After some thoughtful moments, Dick retorted, “Well… Yeah… I like you because you are a good person.”
When Jane went to sleep that night, she believed in her own goodness.
When we doubt our own goodness, it is helpful when others affirm it. But we do not fully believe in ourselves because of what anyone else says. If we believe in ourselves, it is a belief that originates inside of us, not because of outside opinions.
Often, our doubt is caused by the outside opinions of other people. Ironically, that same way of thinking doesn’t work when it comes to outside opinions that we are good. A sense of our own goodness must come from within.
No other person can see your inner heart from the outside. They cannot see the shame you hold in secret, yet that is what they tap into when they tell you you are bad. Consequently, it’s not hard to believe in our badness.
Even when you do some things which have the appearance – as seen from the outside – of good motives, you know your inner ulterior motives. Some people can live most of their lives imitating goodness. You yourself have a clever mind that can trick you into believing that ACTING in kind and loving ways makes you kind and loving authentically.
In each instance that we are conscious of our fraud, we doubt our own authentic goodness. That doubt can cast over you a dark shadow even when you authentically do pour out goodness from inside of you. Consequently,…
When someone tells you that you are bad, you do not reject that proposal in its entirety. There is a kernel of truth in their proposal. This is the curse of the human condition. But it is also a gift…
When you see the world too rigidly in black-and-white, you bemoan your own imperfection. But when you allow for even more than 50 shades of gray, you can see clearly your soul’s connection to every soul. If you do not believe that you are a mixture of your mind’s artificial constructs of good and bad, then you believe it has to be all or nothing. And you will also judge every other person with that same rigidity.
The good camp will be empty, and the bad camp will be overcrowded, unless you create some artificial scale with a threshold that tips some people into the good camp, despite their also having some badness. If absolutely everyone is in the bad camp, why not relabel it the good camp? I think the better question is, Why label the camp at all? All are connected. In their goodness and their badness.
Yes, I understand it is some tricky or deep matter of philosophy or brainwashing, but these ways of thinking should challenge us about whether badness authentically exists at all. If you do think that badness exists, it is not possible to escape this way of thinking. And the only way to escape its consequences is to create some fantasy that some sacrifice of Jesus tricks God into judging all of us positively. Then you can believe in Jesus even if you can’t believe in yourself. So, now, in this light, if you think you “know Jesus Christ,” do you think these fantasies and tricks are His Way?
“No, no, Neil. We have a choice.” Poppycock. That is a very human way of thinking that we project onto God. God’s love for you does not depend on your choices. That is the judgmental love of humans. That is ego thinking, not soul thinking. Your soul cannot be lost by you, no matter how many bad choices you make. It is always there. And your soul is divine. God is always there. Always loving. Not loving to reciprocate for our good acts. Loving first. Not responsively or reactively or judgmentally.
I think Yeshua had followers because of how he treated the followers, not how – or because – they “chose” him.
If the love of Jesus did not precede (pre-seed) all else, who would turn to him at all?
If love is something we earn and bestow in return, where does this circle originate?
With YOU. It rises up from the kingdom of heaven inside you, at hand. It is your nature. Your nature is divine. And divine nature is to love first, not in response, and not by imitation. And that is why, as he walked his way to Golgotha, he did not ask for our tears, but suggested we “weep for ourselves and for our children.” Weep for the child within you. As he does. Because, first, you are good. First, you are loved. THAT kind of love is the authentic kind. https://cac.org/a-hopeful-foundation-2021-10-24/. And THAT we know inside our hearts.
Who am I? I am yours. You chose me, not based on my choices. You choose me for the very *sake* of my choices. So that I *have* authentic freedom to choose. And if I choose to believe in your way, it seems, I must choose to love my own self. Like you. And to authentically love others from my inside, like you.
Neil D. 2021-10-23