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“It wasn’t my fault, but I now take responsibility. I take responsibility, with joy. Seeing myself and others clearly, allows me to truly love and serve others. I embrace my mission to love with abandon.”
I have often encountered people who are grumpy or angry or depressed about the sexual state of our world. I can understand this. There is a lot of darkness in our age. There are good and valid reasons for righteous anger.
The problem is that beyond a certain point, these negative emotions are not helpful. I like to recall that Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem on the eve of His Passion and death. He knew perfectly well what we were about to do to Him. Yet He never gave up loving the city. (Lk 19:41) His example is a good enough reason for us to not give up on loving the world.
Righteous anger can be a motivator, there is no doubt about that. But it is hardly ever attractive. And anger is never as attractive as love and awe.
As people of faith, we have access to love and awe! The love of God is the one resource that is never limited in supply! God loves us more than we love ourselves. When we feel dried out and used up, we can be rejuvenated by God’s love for us. This is an awesome reality.
For many of our neighbors, we may be their only contact with that ultimate source of love. We have no right to be grumpy! Our friends and neighbors are counting on us, even though they may not know it.
This is the time for us to confront our anger toward those who may have hurt us. People lied to us or misled us. People who should have loved and cared for us were preoccupied with themselves, their sex lives, or their addictions. People who could have been offering us encouragement to love and engaging with us as individual human beings, were instead, busily defending their abstract intellectual or ideological systems.
This is the time to open our hearts to forgiveness. We have our boundaries in place, so we know that some incidents and behavior patterns were our responsibility. Some incidents and behaviors were the other person’s responsibility and truly not our fault. We have repented of our own wrong-doing and made amends. We now release ourselves from being angry at those who hurt us. We allow ourselves to forgive.
Perhaps this person doesn’t deserve to be loved or even forgiven. Perhaps he or she is not sorry. We do not consider this a barrier to finding peace for ourselves.
Perhaps this person is still impossible for us to be in contact with. Perhaps he or she really is dangerous to us or others. No matter. We can allow ourselves to be at peace with this person, from whatever distance is safe for us. We are entitled to have safety in our lives. We are confident that we can protect ourselves as the need arises.
We are not required to consume ourselves in trying to salvage another person’s life. These are decisions that we are entitled to make for ourselves, with the counsel of our friends and spiritual advisors.
We purge ourselves of anger, without losing our ability to protect ourselves and defend the truth. We each have a personal mission to love.
As we forgive others while protecting ourselves, we find our ability to love grows. As we free ourselves from our past, we are free to love those who are in our world here and now.
Pick out some corner of the world or one particular person whom you can love without reservation. Consider your family, your profession, your city or your neighborhood. Consider your hobbies. Anything or anyone whom you already love is a good candidate.
Then love that person, place or activity with abandon!
Resolving to love the world requires us to let go of our anger, resentment and un-forgiveness. That is the hard part: figuring out how to stop Not Loving. The fun part is figuring out who and what to love with particular flair and enthusiasm. You may wish to switch back and forth between these two parts of Step 5.
This way, you will be the most attractive that you can be. You have the best chance of being genuinely helpful to others. You will have the best chance of drawing people closer to Jesus.
It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: bring all these people, places and situations to the Lord in prayer. Do not try to do this without prayer! Keep yourself in close connection with Jesus. This is no time to go it alone!
Do you feel at peace as you release others through forgiveness? Do you feel at peace as you discover your personal mission to love?
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” MT 18:21-22