STONE THIRTEEN CONTINUED
Love: I learn to deepen my ability to love when I learn to tolerate, accept, embrace, and forgive. I choose to employ these attributes to my spiritual walk, to my personal relationships, and to my world view.
Instruction: Embrace the individual.
Religious Recovery is not opposed to religion. From time to time, it is good to repeat that phrase to remind the writer and the reader that we respect and embrace, to the best of our ability, all religious beliefs. We do not judge individuals or religions. That is not our purpose. The goal of spiritually-minded people is to embrace everyone with love, kindness, patience, and understanding. What is it that holds us back from embracing people unconditionally? Fear is perhaps the main reason we keep people at a distance. Many people talk about embracing a new day and opening their lives to the adventures that it will bring, but how often do they consider the different variety of lives they will encounter? How often do we mentally prepare to embrace people who are different with warmth, love, understanding, and caring? Part of the concern we may have is the unknown. When we meet a new person, what will they be like? Will they like us? If we take a leap of faith and reach out to them, will they accept our attempt at friendship? Will their beliefs line up with ours? Will we have things of mutual interest?
If we could return to the innocence of childhood and welcome anyone and everyone with open arms, we might find that our vulnerability attracts people who warm up to us. Who doesn’t love an innocent child, and the same qualities that endear us to those children are also qualities that we find endearing in adults. Those who love openly and freely draw us to them, make us want to be like them, and we discover we want to spend time with them. Fear keeps us from recognizing the spark of divinity that lies within each person we meet, and, perhaps, our biggest fear is being rejected. If we could embrace each person and understand that they need and want love just as much as we do, we could supply that love to them, and they could reciprocate in kind. Not everyone will be spiritually mature enough to give in equal measure, but with time, love will work into the cracks of hurts and abuses and do its healing work. By embracing the un-embraceable, we become a part of that healing.
Before leaving this topic, I want to share two concerns. The first one is about vulnerability. When we become vulnerable, people will warm up to us, but occasionally some of the people who warm up to us might be people who see us as easy targets. Because of our openness, some people seem to think they have a right to take advantage of us, prey on us, and use us for their personal gain. On several occasions we have addressed the need to discern and set boundaries, and we repeat that advice here. The second concern is the need to set boundaries with people who take advantage of us intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or subconsciously. They might even have good intentions, but that doesn’t make them right or give them permission to cross boundaries.
Today’s Assignment is twofold. First, consider ways in which you can be more open and vulnerable in your life, and second, discern people who might take advantage of your vulnerability and openness. Set boundaries where needed, and love and forgive them from a distance.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.