Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:10
I think these past weeks, and years, we can all come up with our own examples and thoughts about this.
I could almost leave it right there, and let each of you come to your own conclusions, but I want to talk about Love.
I want to talk about Trust.
There’s a saying that a friend of mine and I argue over all the time. “Everyone is doing the best they can.” One side of the argument is that “No, they aren’t if they are acting in inappropriate ways. They can do better.”. I can absolutely see, and agree, with this side of the conversation.
But I like to argue that people are acting in the best way they possible can with the information they have been given. The experiences they have had and processed or not processed. The influences that make up their circles, their stage of life. The younger the person, the less life experience and wisdom, for starters. The older a person, the more experiences there are that are layered on a new experience. All these things, and more, impact a person’s ability to cope with the moments which may be intense. Add loud company, unchecked emotions, maybe a little alcohol, a not so good upbringing…and we make bad decisions. We’ve all done it. There are things we’ve all done as a younger versions of ourselves that we might not be proud of. It helps to make us better, more forgiving people.
Ever notice is easier to forgive those who are close to us? Or the people who have done similar things? We understand it better.
I’m not saying that anything anybody does is excused for me saying that they are “doing the best they can”. What I like to look at is this phrase saying…I trust you. I trust that you are doing your best despite what decision you made. I trust that this is the best reaction you can come up with based on where you are in this moment. I trust, that the consequences of your actions will teach you to do better the next time. I trust that you will learn from this experience.
If there is no trust, there is merely judgment and condemnation. Oh, there’s no hope for this person. Again, I am not saying that anyone should be “let off” for their actions; I’m a huge fan of a healthy justice system. Merely, that a bit of trust helps us to be more compassionate to…others.
Trust. We talk a lot about Compassion and Love. In fact, this whole passage of scripture could simply be said to be condensed to Love. Perhaps, righteous love.
But what is love but…trust. Sure, you did this. Sure, you believe that. Sure, you don’t think the same way I do or agree with me. And I certainly don’t agree with you. But maybe, just maybe, with a little trust, we can begin to see some common ground. Instead of coming apart, we can come together. Trust is where compromise happens. Trust says, that I know that you are not just “out to get me” or being “stubborn”, but have something valid underlying your behavior that I could listen to.
Trust says, I know that you didn’t actually mean to hurt me. Trust says, you know that I didn’t actually mean to hurt you. Trust gives us the opportunity that we can do better in the future.
What happens when we don’t trust? We disconnect. We judge. “What were you thinking”, in anger? Instead of “what were you thinking” as a true question?
I posted recently a meme that said: “I love you. You’re probably thinking “You don’t even know me.” But if people can hate for no reason, I can love.”
That’s trust. That’s love. Can you trust enough to open your heart to the world this way?
Think about trust. On a small level, like in your household. How much do you trust your loved ones? The people you love the most and are closest to are probably the ones you trust the most.
Even when you disagree, with trust, the gap is smaller. I trust you to take care of me. I trust you to know I didn’t intend to let you down. I trust that your intentions are not to hurt me. That’s love. A follow up “I’m sorry and I love you” actually lets our guard down instead of making walls stronger.
Can we do this for our loved one? Can we trust deeply those who love us? Can we extend that beyond our closest loved ones?
Think about the thing that bothered you the most in these past weeks. Especially as I read the scripture: Blessed are they that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
These big social structure conflicts are an opportunity to see if we look at the world and others with love…or something else. It’s an opportunity to practice love. And trust.
Even if someone is doing something we don’t believe in, can you trust that they are trying to make the world a better place, even if they don’t have the tools to know how to respond appropriately? Or trust that they are so lost or hopeless that they don’t even know where to begin? Perhaps they need our help.
We can still act. In fact, we must act. The world needs our help. But when we look at the ugliness out there; it’s fueled by hate and judgement and condemnation. We need to be strong and unflinching without fueling the hate and judgement and condemnation. If we respond with a core value of love and trust beneath righteousness’ sake, we can do better.
Yes, exactly, I never said this was easy. Learning to love is the practice of religion. Kindness for Unkindness. Arms for rescue not ruin. Words to uplift not degrade. Love…everyone…without exception.
Practicing Love is the mastering of the mind to transition from the reactionary emotions of judgment and jealousy and hatred and condemnation to…love.
Perhaps a healthy heart and a healthy mind is pure love.
My Teachers, the capital T Teachers say: that when we can meet each charged situation with a “thank you” for giving us this opportunity to grow, we are on the path to God.
When we can transform ourselves to be an example of a quiet force for Good, we are on the path to God.
Perhaps, just maybe, this is Divine Trust and we, each of us, is a part of the path.
Closing Blessing: God, help us to be the salt and the light. Help us to be those who bring delicious flavor to the world. Help us to light up not just our own homes, but the world. Give us the Courage to do the deep good work for righteousness’ sake. And help us, God, to remember that after the darkness there is always the Dawn. God, help us to trust one another and to trust the path before us. Amen.