Wednesday, September 28, 2016
By Micky Wolf
Before I venture into what could be a morass of further misunderstanding, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the subjectivity that is part and parcel of what it means to be misunderstood.
There are two sides to this sticky coin. The first is how we perceive others response to us, and secondly, the way we interpret them through our intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and psychological filters.
For all that we hold in common as human beings sharing space on this planet, there is much that is unique about each of us. While we may have greater similarity given the same biological families or ancestral or environmental backgrounds, even those influences are not enough to make us identical.
Enter the aforementioned subjectivity. And it shows itself no greater than in how you and I define a couple of concepts that are important building blocks for living the life God created us for while minimizing the opportunity for misunderstanding.
To be intense is to be expressive with great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration…exhibiting strong feeling or earnestness of purpose…deeply felt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Who among us doesn’t respect the individual who is zealous, energetic, determined and concentrated when it comes to everyday life? We may not agree with the person’s activity or goal embedded in this kind of laser focused living, but we can’t deny their commitment. (I’m referring to actions and behaviors that aren’t harmful or unloving toward others or themselves.)
Many of our nation’s greatest and most effective business, political and corporate leaders and creatives have been and are intense. Many are reformers and advocates who are soft-spoken, articulate, people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Men and women who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life for our families, our communities and our country.
Absent intensity, we’d not be the beneficiaries of the blessings that resulted, sometimes at the expense of great personal sacrifice on the part of these courageous, determined intense individuals with an earnestness of purpose.
To be passionate is to behave similarly, although a couple of additional characteristics may be present, namely anger, or strong romantic or sexual feelings. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
Uh-oh. Anger. Sexual. Include one of those in the way you think, speak, or act and you’ve got more than enough to stir the pot of misunderstanding. Add both of them and a veritable explosion of thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions is a mere breath from erupting with the potential to do significant damage to a relationship of any description.
Anger, in particular, is considered one of the dark emotions. For some people, that means negative. On the other hand, no one has ever been a more effective model than Jesus in helping us understand how to wield this emotion in love.
The key to living passionately—a good thing—means we will need to allow the Divine to heal and transform these key emotions. It is unfortunate but true that too many of us have not had loving, healthy, or positive experiences with anger or sexual feelings—ours or others.
What then, are we to do? Especially those of us who’ve experienced the pain of being misunderstood when we were behaving with intensity or passion?
We need to be vigilant. Vigilant in the awareness of what we are trying to communicate.
Vigilant as to the mental or emotional state of the person(s) with whom we are interacting.
Vigilant with regard to the areas of our thoughts and emotions that are wounded and in need of healing and transformation. Said another way, those thoughts and feelings we are aware of on some level that have the potential to render harm to another.
From a Christian perspective, absent passion, we wouldn’t have the gift of a Savior. Or that of Death and Resurrection. Or, for that matter, the Sacred Scriptures which we can hold in our hands.
Don’t tamp down the intensity or passion. Don’t stop speaking the Truth in Love, even when it may not be well-received on the other end.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t believe the lie that to be intense or passionate is something reserved only for the wickedly rebellious, the highly literate, or the spotlessly holy.
Have I ever been misunderstood when being intense or passionate?
How do I feel about allowing these behaviors to inhabit future choices or actions?
Am I open to allowing the Divine to heal, restore, and transform any/all of my emotions?
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
By Micky Wolf
In this reflection, which touches on a topic similar to the previous post (who would have thought it would come around again that soon), bears repeating—now is the moment you and I have been given. Take it from one who knows only too well the futility of time traveling into the future.
We fill our datebooks and calendars with “its”. The mundane. The routine. The important or necessary. The kind of stuff wise and responsible people make sure is given the proper time and attention.
A few examples:
A doctor appointment. A medical test.
Lunch with a colleague or friend.
Date night with a significant other.
The special family gathering.
A conversation with a tax advisor.
And then we do what we say we won’t. At best we think about “it” long before its time is due—the pending meeting, the appointment, the get together. At worse, we lapse into rumination, worry, or infinitesimal problem solving. Problem? Why do we rush to believe there will be a problem?
The litany continues.
What’s going to happen?
Will I be prepared for whatever “it” might trigger in my life? Change? No change?
Bad things? Good things?
Believing it is wisdom, we micro-examine every possible nuance. Of every possible outcome. Of any potential event or situation. But rather than glean answers or insight from this never-ending process, all we manage to accomplish most of the time is discovering, later rather than sooner, that we’re trapped on a maddening mental merry-go-round.
So, if that’s not the way God would have us to live, what’s the alternative?
It seems to me the person of character who desires to be responsible, especially one who considers themselves to be a person of faith and trust in the Divine, is better served (along with those with whom we share the journey) by making the choice to let go of our infinite lists of what ifs, whys, and wherefores.
However, there is one caveat—we will end up spinning our wheels if we think we can accomplish this no small feat by willpower alone, or by trying to rely on our own strength and intellect.
In order to find the peace that will sustain us through times of unknowing, we must also make the choice to open ourselves to receiving God’s graces to stay in the now moment.
To recall an old axiom, it’s like trying to count your chickens before they hatch, when in reality, they may no longer occupy the coop. What are you going to do then?
For all you know, the coop may be gone, too, by the time you show up.
Is it difficult for me to live in the moment? Why?
Am I comfortable/uncomfortable trusting the next hour, the next day to God?
What would it take for me to really let go of my what ifs, wherefores, or whys?