Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. The memories of last night’s conversation with my Mother lingered and I was irritated. The reason? More family drama. It is the extended family this time, with the dramatic incidents within my own family quite still for the moment. In this series of melodrama de la familia, it is time for a new episode.
It turns out that an ongoing family feud with my relatives erupted again yesterday, with my folks meeting up with my Uncle’s family to invite them for my brother’s wedding. To cut the long story short, my cousin has fed his parents with an elaborate image of me being an arrogant, rude and flirtatious character who used to talk to men all night long and wore short skirts to work (stories from about 3 years ago, the can of worms which were opened yesterday). This is pretty scandalous in the small and conservative village from where I come. The stories are imaginative and show his true character of being a sexist, suspicious alpha male and depict me as having crossed the line of protocol of all ‘respectable’ women in the family. If the stories were true I would have ignored them but it hurt me that he could cook up stories about my character just to put himself in the good light. Yesterday’s family meeting episode turned out quite theatrical with incidents of anger eruptions, chest-beating and insults. Yes, the works.
Having vented out all my anger on my husband yesterday and today morning, he advised me to let it go. At work, I was amused when I got two beautiful messages by the Lord which which were apt for my current situation. Like I said He’s got my back covered. One was a beautiful Buddhist message (I respect this religion a lot) on my Facebook page which reminded me not to look for the fault in others but to look at my own mistakes which in turn will improve my patience, tolerance, kindness etc. In retrospect, I realsied that I did have a part in the problem and however small my role was, I needed to accept it and take responsibility for my part. The second message was from a blog by a Jesuit priest that I love, which coincidentally talks today about forgiveness and how I would feel if God kept a grudge on all my sins. It was as if the veil over my eyes had been lifted and things soon fell into place.
Besides the message of forgiveness I learnt some important lessons from this incident. One being that if you are willing to look beyond the boundaries in your own religion, we can get meaningful messages from the Divine from unexpected places. Even from religions different from one’s own. Like I did from a buddhist perspective which also spoke on the same message as Christ. The next lesson is that it is necessary to listen to the outlook of the other person before making a judgement. Whether it is your own parents, spouse, friends or children; people often feed you perspectives influenced by their own personal opinions and biases. Our loved ones could be in error and hence we should not be quick to condemn the accused in spite of a possible backlash at our loyalty. Lastly, we all know this but often fail to implement it- asking God for advice. After all He’s the best there is for one.
I have been thinking a lot about love lately. There used to be a time when I thought true love exists only in movies and I know I am not alone.Love has to be most celebrated of all human emotions. I believe most women secretly admire great love stories/movies because there is a little girl inside her who wants to be swept off her feet by someone who is madly in love with her. A woman wants to be the most beautiful and loved person for her man and ideally it is a man who will go to great lengths to attain it. Which woman does not like to be chased for love?
Where love stories end in movies, it begins in real life. Suddenly you realise the mysterious aura of your lady love irritates your very being or the wild side of your man you once so admired has completely lost its charm. And many other such traits become undesirable. Marriage is not easy. No one can prepare for it before taking the leap. Love in a marriage is not infatuation but love in spite of the differences of opinions, attitudes, culture and priorities. Not many are willing to live for this love and fewer get to taste it.
True love is unconditional and it need not be returned in the same level as given or may not be returned at all. This concept is difficult to fathom as it means to completely love a person with your whole being and letting go of ego and pride in the process. It is not for everyone which is why great love stories live over time. It involves pain, hurt, sacrifice and compromise. It is what man has lived, died and fought for and to find it is a great treasure.
My love experience with the Divine can be described as mostly an on and off relation to mortal terms. I do love Him and I also realise it is a selfish love. Conditional from my side and unconditional from His. Yet in many ways small and big I see His love, gestures and messages. But I sometimes wonder if He loves others more than me. There would be others who are more good, righteous, prayerful and leading a better Christian life. Am I doing enough? Does God have a favourite? He surely would love Mother Teresa and the rest of the saints more than me. What chance do I have when there are so many worthy of His love? Hard to understand how He loves us all equally and I know He does. No matter how imperfect I am, I know He could not love me less. Because I am beautiful in His eyes, selfish and imperfect that I may be. That is love. Pure, unconditional and true.
The other day I came across a random article about how the earth could be hit by an asteroid in the year 2040. I am interested in astronomy due to my brief glimpses of the solar system episodes on NatGeo which I find very fascinating. So I read this article which goes on to explain how the earth has a 1 in 625 probability of being hit by this asteroid and that scientists are working out ways to try and deflect this collision. What caught my eye was that 2040 was another 28 years away. I quickly calculated how old I would be that year. I would be almost 60 in 30 years.That could not be right, I thought. I couldn’t have just 30 years to be a senior citizen.
But the fact is that it is true. In the passing and often seemingly boring days I keep forgetting that time is racing by. It is already the third month of the year and soon I will turn another year older. What pricks my conscience though is the fact that I have not done anything productive with my life. I read somewhere once that no matter how bad my day is, I should thank myself for simply being alive as someone else around the world is fighting just to survive. Sometimes I get these messages coming to me from the least expected places and I piece them together to realise an important truth. In this case it is simply that I am letting my life slip away.
I fail to acknowledge the fact that each new day is a gift from the Lord. It is easy to ignore the small miracles in search for the larger and often material blessings. Everyone has a different way of connection with the Divine and my way of connecting with Him is through nature. When I am caught up in the beauty of the mountains, sea, earth, plants and flowers; I feel His presence. It is a very personal and beautiful experience of God and such encounters prove to me that I serve a mighty God. But why do I not see this beauty everyday?
Sometimes, I imagine a silly childish scenario of my after- life, which is not my view in the normal world. In my make- vision I imagine that I die and go up to the huge white pearly gate where I would assume Peter in his white robe would take out my book of life and weigh my positives versus the negatives. What I hope is finally when I meet God and He asks me what have I done with His gift of life to me, I am able to tell Him without remorse and regret that I have done something constructive with my limited time on earth. That I have not wasted it in hopes of leaving my happiness on others and live in regret on not doing what I wanted. And that I have been able to use my talents (again His gift) on earth and have done a small albeit tiny part in making the world a better place.
Parenting is one of the most important and fulfilling role a person could perform in his entire life, if one decides to be a parent that is. Most couples wait eagerly for this stage in their marriage- a chance to upgrade their bond of love to a new level. Parents also have high hopes for each of their children and pin all their expectations on their offspring. In the process, they tend to forget that children are not vessels to fulfill their own unmet dreams and that they too have their own goals and aspirations.
When I look into the lives of many of the families of my parent’s generation, I realise that many parents play favouritism with their children. I do not know if this is intentional or not, but it is very much evident in some cases. Having been subjected to this myself, I have often wondered the reason for this. What I find most intriguing is when I realise that most parents who do this were themselves subjected to being second fiddle to their siblings in childhood. In other words, they were not the favourites of their own parents. One would assume that not being the most favoured child would make them realise the consequences of this action. That they would not repeat this with their own children. However, I wonder why this doesn’t happen. They say that a mother cannot love one son more than the other. I do not believe this is true in real life. All parents have favorites, some are better at concealing it than the others.
Recently a friend confided in me about his father who reminds him that his younger brother is smarter. He has had to live with this from childhood and may continue living with it for the rest of his life. When he told me this it made me feel really sad, maybe because I have experienced favouritism in my own childhood. It is difficult to deal with people who think you are not intelligent everyday. Its more difficult to love them and forgive. The unspoken hurt caused due to such actions or words often mature into feelings of inadequacy and depression. It is sad to see this happen because of one’s own parents.
Our birth into a particular family is a decision which we have no control over. We have no choice in selecting our parents and hence they were not ‘chanced’ upon us. We are in their family for a definite reason, whether we realize it now or later. If we understand that God places difficult people in our lives to strengthen us, we would look at them in a new light. The world did not even spare Jesus from taunts and rejection and He came down as a human so that we could relate to Him as a person. Jesus was a God who was not showered with praises by His people, but suffered one of the worst forms of death and humiliation. People walk into our lives for a purpose and all of them are learning curves for a better us. We just have to see them as how Jesus would see them. Created in the image of God. No matter how harsh they may act towards us, His grace will lead us to the realisation that God who is the creator of the entire universe loves us more than we could ever imagine. This is a powerful and humbling thought. After all, there can be no love greater than our Heavenly Father.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you! Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16