The third part of Epiphany 7A – Matthew 5:38-48; “Love Your Enemies” that hit me was perfection meaning not flawless but whole.
The Jesus ends this section in a very strange way. He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” …which is, you know, totally not fair. Our idea of perfection is very Greek in origin. We think of perfect as flawless, faultless. The Jews did not think of perfection in this way. The word Jesus uses is: teleios, which means “brought to its end, completion, or wholeness”
I prayed for wholeness and health a while back. Silly me. I should have figured out it would be like praying for patience. Pray for patience and God gives lots of trying circumstances to practice patience. It appears that praying for wholeness results in the opportunity to learn how to become whole. Can I love this person no matter what? Can I keep my eyes wide open to the whole picture even when I’ve been hurt? Can I continue to find things to appreciate and keep mentioning those things even when I don’t want to? Can I ALWAYS resist the temptation to strike back and fight harsh words with harsh words? (Sometimes I have managed to do that, refused to bite bait and dredge up every single hurtful message he’s sent. Which is hard when he digs back weeks to pick one word out of the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written to beat me over the head with. But all too often I have responded in kind and just dished it right back.) I know I lack the strength to do this on my own. I absolutely need help in whatever form it comes.
I had a dream a long time ago about this person. Not the sort of dream that is my own subconscious sorting through things. The rare sort of dream I woke up and had to both write it down and tell someone because it was too much to keep in my own head. It started with me in a sort of alley way by dumpsters and metal railings. I was crouched down against a wall. The footing was all bar grating. Lightening struck just feet away from me but didn’t hurt me. My hair stood on end and my heart raced with adrenaline but I was unscathed. Somehow all that metal didn’t conduct it straight to my heart. Then the dream flashed to this friend in some sort of strange compression suit and my being absolutely sure that no matter what it was my job to hold onto him. He was mean and vicious and ugly in the dream, not at all the friend I knew at the time. And he was worried I wouldn’t want him all scarred up and helpless. But I still knew that no matter what I had a purpose: to hold on and be a good friend no matter how awful the circumstance. In the dream I was able to love no matter what. Somehow I had to take the same protection I had had from the lightening and extend it.
Yeah, God. I think I get it now. I hope I’m on the right track here. The ticket to my own healing comes from loving the people who are most resistant to love. I escaped hell and narrowly missed that final strike. But if I want to maintain my freedom I have to give it away. I got handed a pile of talents and the best thing I can do is to go give them away. And I have to find away to give to the person who least wants a damn thing to do with me.
Ultimately, despite his talk about feeling hate and hurtful words and angry actions, I am still my own worst enemy. I prayed for wholeness and I’ve been given my answer. I have to overcome my own split self. I’ve come a long, long way this year. Remember this post, about change and a more recent dream? Well, I suppose it’s time to let go that last barrier, that last bit of fear and safety.
That may be part of what has changed in the dynamics of this relationship. I’ve thrown everything I have after God and healing and health and recovery. Everything. And it has changed me in ways I never would have imagined. A wise woman told me a while back that we expect our friends not to change. But I have. And it is probably a very frightening thing to witness. The girl who put up with injustice for the sake of maintaining “peace” is dead. That is no peace. That is emotional dishonesty. But he liked the friend who didn’t care when he was selfish rude to her, the girl who would just go get high rather than deal with reality.
It’s telling that the more effort I have put into my own program, into my spiritual growth and this crazy path of following God in everything the more push-back I have gotten. Comments about getting addicted to working the steps (is it possible to be addicted to mindfulness, prayer, meditation, and helping others?). Sarcastic, cutting remarks about how I work my program and obvious attempts to trick me into being responsible for things he has said and done (a version of victim-blaming). It’s subtle emotional manipulation with the intent of maintaining power-over rather than sharing power-with.
One of the most tricky things for me to wrap my mind around it the idea that everything is in God’s hands. It smacks of predestination and an excuse to avoid accountability and responsibility. It’s hard to square with modern scientific thinking and my natural bent toward skepticism and questions. I want control. Accepting that I don’t run this show is tough to chew. But I know it is true. And if I am going to have that radical faith that God is in charge then I have to accept that for whatever reason this is where I need to be now and this is the lesson I need to learn and this is the person I need to learn it with.