Friday, November 18, 2011

Wearing the Right Glasses

  All of us have a unique perspective.  As we travel through life we pick up “glasses” through which we choose to view people and events. Some of these lenses are, skepticism, optimism, pessimism, and Charity (the pure love of Christ).  We use each of these lenses for a reason, with a purpose.  The skepticism helps us to carefully scrutinize a situation to discern the best possible course of action and to avoid interactions with people who intend to abuse us or our gifts, it’s our shield.  Optimism allows us to take risks with people and situations in life providing space for building trust in ourselves and others as well as providing space for personal growth.  We use pessimism, when we have been burned a few times and are without hope and feel the need to be protected from life.  Last, we use the lens of Charity.  When we view people through the lens of Charity allows us to see people for who they really are, and what they really intend to be.  The lens of charity can only be formed through the atonement of Christ.  All the other lenses we use use can contribute to the lens of Charity when we apply the atonement of Christ to our own lives and to the way we look at others.  The atonement refines and utilizes the BEST qualities from each of these perspectives and creates a perspective that is most true, the final product of the refinement of these perspectives is Charity.  
Only Christ who never did anything wrong and had no need to change his perspective in order to protect himself from his own guilt or from seeing the guilt of others has clear enough judgement to make ours clear.  He experienced humanity in it’s beauty and ugliness and saw each for what they were.  He sees us for who we are.  In relationships whether personal or business, seeing through Charity means that I acknowledge and do not pretend away weaknesses in myself or my clients, friends, family, spouse, etc. but that I also see the divine and beauty in them.  Does this mean I allow everyone to be in my inner circle of trust?  Does it mean that I allow everyone to partake of my gifts? No.  It means that I harbor no resentment for people, but I also draw a clear line.  When the Savior threw the money changers out of the temple, he showed us  clearly that those who seek to utilize the gifts we share in selfishness and greed and abuse us are to be kept from us. Did He die for them too?  Yes.  While His love is unconditional the blessings of his presence and His gifts are conditional on our willingness and diligence in treating Himself and the gifts He gives with reverence.  When he gives a great gift, He requires great diligence.  The atonement provided a way for us to retain and regain our gifts when we screw up, it didn’t give us a ticket to abuse and use one another and disrespect the Gift.  
Here’s what this looks like in relationships:      My husband has been a complete jerk at times.  He has completely disrespected my efforts and sacrifices.  He has denied me forgiveness at times (it takes him longer to process pain), He has said insensitive things, etc.  A few months ago we were moving and when he left ahead of me, made no provisions for me and the kids to have money.  He made arrangements for himself, but not us.  Sounds pretty rotten, huh?  It felt pretty rotten too, and I was really angry and hurt by it.  Let’s look at this from another side.  I am a grown woman.  I did not prepare and make provisions for myself, either.  I dug myself into a pit by turning a blind eye to my own needs and those of my kids.  Part of this creation took place through and internal and unconscious habit of creating situations where I could be the victim and show everyone what a martyr I was.  While I was busily making myself into a martyr I turned him into a villain.  I’m not taking responsibility for His choices, but that is between him and God.  I knew from past experience how much work it is to repair and clean a house for a move, but I failed to make the proper, timely arrangements for the assistance I would need.  The only request I made for help was a post or message on FB to a few friends, the day of.  I didn’t call people in advance, I didn’t organize it.  Part of this was my pride, I was busy trying to prove how self-reliant I was.  Then when I had the help of a few friends who I am deeply grateful to, I still had to be at the house cleaning and fixing things for 15-16 hours per day (there until 3 am).  My kids were well cared for at this time by two close friends.  I was SO angry and hurt at my husband, but I had learned to be accountable for my life, so I looked for what I had done to create this and I identified the problems I just described and set up new boundaries.  I would never again do packing or final house cleaning and I wouldn’t expect my husband to either, I would hire it all out.  My prayers for comfort brought me peace and comfort and the answer, “Don’t go back.”  
I was no longer angry with my husband at this point and saw him for the great person that he is, but I also recognized that I had not been happy for a long time and that if I was to be happy in or out of my marriage I had to be more clear in myself about who I am and what I will and will not do.  I realized that the resentment that I harbored for him was, in part, because I was blaming him for a lot of choices that I had shoved off onto him using his position as head of our home as an excuse to never have to be accountable for making wrong choices myself. In previous times I had made all the decisions myself in order to prevent situations where I might need to forgive Him.  I also realized that I hid things from people in fear of their judgement of him....because I had already judged him.  
Not that my husband is a saint, but he has been loving and kind to me throughout our marriage.  He has not always been the most provident provider, but he has worked very hard at it. He also does all the laundry, insists on it, never leaves the toilet lid up, never leaves his clothes or anything of his laying around, he takes the most active role as playmate for the kids I have ever seen, our intimacy has always been respectful and tender, he has always been sensitive to me.  He is active in church responsibility and serves others and reaches out in friendship to those who struggle.  Clearly I married a great man, but I was miserable with him because of the lens I viewed him through.  When hard things happened, when he screwed up I had closed the doors of my heart to him and every mistake he made I added  to my case file against him to justify my closure instead of having to risk pain.  I took personal responsibility on the surface, but secretly harbored resentment towards him, reasoning that he should take more personal responsibility.
During our separation I was only putting off divorce because the state I was in required a 6 month residency in order to file.  My reasons were typical, we just aren’t right for each other, I don’t expect him to change, he’s a great guy, but we aren’t good for each other.  These were all true statements, but there really weren’t concrete reasons to end our marriage.  I also claimed a testimony in the atonement of Christ, but I wasn’t using it to heal my marriage.
During this period I went to an Energy Healing class and the Teachers were also teaching a marriage class, I took that too.  During that course as I healed some of my own false beliefs and pain I began to see him even more clearly and with compassion.  As I turned more to the Savior for healing my frame of mind changed.  One night as I was talking to my husband and apologizing for the harsh words I’d said and other things.  We were talking about the early days of marriage and child-rearing it was like a blanket of light fell over all the memories of our past years and the pain and resentment disappeared and left only beauty, peace, and light.  The beauty, peace and light had been there the whole time, but my lenses were so clouded by fear, resentment, guilt and pain I had not seen it for years.  I couldn’t get healed for all those years because I was praying for Rob to change and the changes needed to be in me.  When I started to take accountability the healing began and I started to see myself as God sees me and Rob as God sees him, and Rob became irresistable to me again. I saw that he was a precious gift given to me by God to assist me in the healing I had already experienced in myself.  I began to feel giddy about being with him! It was better than when we were engaged because I knew him better and loved him even more.
I did not save my marriage by being accountable and turning to God, but together with God we did.  Rob’s part in this story is his to tell, he learned his own lessons and experienced His own miracles, but the only part I get to tell, the only part that is my business is the side that I lived. All that matters is that I became accountable, and got the healing I needed.  Truthfully, I found that in that space where I was able to stand with God and see myself as I am, I became able to see Rob as he is and it no longer mattered to me whether he ever changed.  When I stopped seeing him as the carricature that I had created in my mind to justify my own pride and lower-self behavior I became able to connect to him deeply and fully.  Before that it was like trying to hug a shadow...can’t do it, there’s nothing there.  
The X-factor in relationship healing and strengthening is God.  That path to him begins with accountability, and the power to succeed on the path is the atonement of Christ. In Marriage true strength comes from two wholes trusting in God, not two halves trusting in each other.
The best model for success in any relationship is to take accountability before God and the other person, asking God what he requires of you to make it right and asking for him to breach the gap through the atonement.  One of the steps on our path to accountability and healing in our marriage was a Seminar we attended with Tony Purcell.  I have also since been blessed to work with his wife Abby in creating deeper connections to my kids as well.  I’m sure you realize that there’s no way you can live in a disjointed marriage without having disconnection with your kids too.

Connect yourself to God and the God in you will come through and reveal to you the God (or good) in others.

Liz King Bradley