If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
In an 8 year elementary school, the eighth graders are the “it” ones in the school. The kids all know each other, there aren’t too many surprises. You have your allies and enemies and the archetypal lines are drawn. Teacher’s pets and pests vary little and the brats, the bullies, the brainiacs are accustomed to each other. I had an little on-going feud with a cute gal named Cindy. I can’t remember very much about what the issue was. I do want to thank her though for hassling me to a point of exasperation one day on the playground. She resorted to the unthinkable! She publicly yelled out my full name with a loud nya nya nya nya nya–I think you know what I mean about that nasty nasally ridiculing vocal tone.
For years, I hated report card time. Not because of the possible bad grades–that hadn’t really been a severe problem since that suspension in first grade. No, it wasn’t the grades. As soon as the card was handed to me, I hid it as fast as I could so none of my class mates could see it. It had my full name on it. My horribly ridiculous and embarrassing middle name was there for all to see. And yes, round about sixth grade, Cindy had been a good friend, good enough to have seen it. But now, she used it as a weapon. She had spewed it venomously into the school yard and everyone stopped and stared and laughed at me.
Lisa LOVING Bersbach! HA! Ha! ha! Lisa LOOOOOVVVVVVVIIIIINGGG!
I stood there flabbergasted and horrified by her betrayal. I took a deep breath.
And I said…..
YES, I am Lisa LOVING and I love it! It’s who I am.
And she stood there, jaw agape, no sound.
End of argument.
In a fit of near defeat, I blurted out a new decision. Her only power over me was my shame of Loving and my fear that others would know it. In a split second, I destroyed a belief that had haunted me for years. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so pushed into a corner by your own limiting ideas that you allow another person to antagonize you? or allow you to antagonize yourself for fear of being found out?
Riding to the Loving Farm in Iowa.
Yes, the fear was crazy to begin with–why did I fear my middle name so much? It is my maternal family name, given by Royal Swedish heritage and it is beautiful. But to little kids, who can be quite cruel, LOVING can be an “unmentionable”. How many of us are still little kids?
Imagine loving as unacceptable in the world. How sad. So many people can not come to grips with loving one another. Messages of fearing abound in our media, our politics, even in some of our churches. Can we choose loving and be not afraid? Can you be loving and be willing to publicly declare it? Loving ourselves and one another as we wish to be loved, now that’s a lovely image.
What else is feared that is done so only by choice?
I have to contemplate that myself.