Tuesday, March 5, 2013

be Iago

It is there, in fact, “in the depths of the heart,” that everything is bound and loosed. It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession.
CCC 2843

In part three of Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis discusses the distinct challenge of being charitable. Not feeling charitable or feeling good, but acting charitably, despite feeling.

Once a month, many women experience a week or so where our emotions and our bodies rebel against our control. In your lifetime, especially if you have been blessed by God with sisters (and yes, sisters are always the greatest blessing of creation, even when they plague you to death) you may have overheard a particularly mopey female sighing apologetically: "I'm sorry, it's just my Time of the Month," or you may have witnessed a usually mild-mannered woman snapping at everyone who comes within a ten-foot radius of her, or you may (heaven forbid), have been the victim of vitriolic attacks by multiple young ladies, who apologize the next day saying: I'm so sorry, I don't know what was wrong with me yesterday
And they exchange knowing glances with one another, because they know exactly what was wrong.

Once a month, many women experience something quite wonderful:
We are disinclined to feel charitable.
Most of the time, it is pleasant and pleasing to find other people likeable.
Human beings are social creatures, and as social creatures, we love interacting with nice people, and being nice in return. It's just all rather pleasant and feels quite nice. Pleasant behavior is, well, pleasant to be around. We are attracted to people who behave with kindness, and we are drawn to people who smile and say please and thank you and have big, hearty laughs. 
It's so easy to love people when they're nice. It's just sort of an instinctual reaction. 
It feels good.
But once a month, it feels dreadful.

I was talking with a young gentleman about a revelation he'd had about not being in control of his body and his thought. That there is so little we can control over our own human physicality.
I chuckled.
Emotions define us.
We say: I like this author, I love that music, I dislike that person's behavior, I have a crush on the boy who opened the door for me and smiled so charmingly.
We live in a happy illusion where we believe our emotional reactions to events are our true reactions.

But once a month, my emotions--my compass for navigating the world around me--are thrown into havoc, and are about as useful for navigation as typewriter is for sending emails.
It's disorienting and terribly frustrating.
As you walk around with a black cloud over your head, your world becomes washed in deep shades of disdain.
You feel that everyone in your world becomes a bumbling idiot whose behavior is the epitome of all stupidity.
And you know that's not true, but you cannot feel otherwise.
And you know rationally it's just a problem with your own self, but in your attempts to find out what exactly is wrong, you drive yourself mad.
Take the beam out of your own eye, they tell you. 
But how frustrating when you can't find it there; and all you can see are tremendously large specks in everyone else's.

It is not in our power not to feel.
It is not in our power not to feel.
But it is there, in the depths of the heart, past layers of hormones and hysteria, that binding and loosing happens.

Once a month, I am forced to look beyond my feelings and emotions, to that deepest part of my heart, where I discover what it means to truly bind and loose. 

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