|Love is all flame|
Recently, someone asked me if the reason I was so nice and kind was because I did the Steps. She wanted to know if I was saying what I really meant, or if, deep down, I really felt and believed something else and was just saying what I was "supposed to" say as a good person.
Fair question, though, of course, I wanted her to believe me, simply because I had said it.
Generally, folks know me as a person who says what she means.
Or holds my tongue to not say anything. Especially, if it is unkind or cruel.
Rashness is not a part of my history. True, in my past, I have been guilty, at times, of saying things to make someone else happy. To please them or to not hurt their feelings. There was; however, a long time when I parroted what I felt was the right thing to say: what other people told me was the right or proper or correct thing to say and believe. It certainly made it easy, when I was a mimic. And I'm smart, so that made it even better, because I'm intelligent and have a bit of a lawyer streak in me. Since I am also a religious person, I had "God" on my side. Oh, that's comforting, right? All those opinions; all right and proper and tidy. Smug is a word that comes to mind. Smug and self-righteous. Even if well-intentioned.
If I was afraid or hurt or angry, I'd just stuff it down with food or shopping or gossiping...or all the the above. There was, for many years, this big huge lump inside of me that was my anger with myself for not knowing myself and not knowing my own mind and opinion about things. It created this huge fog that filled and surrounded me. Even larger was this other huge lump inside me that was convinced that God was going to smite me and those I loved, because that was what I deserved. Like Thor, but without Chris Hemsworth's looks. A "bring down the hammer god" who likes to smash, destroy, and obliterate: world desolation and fire and death and havoc! Now, supposedly this same God was also all loving and kind; long suffering, full of great mercy and forgiveness. Mind yourself though, Erica, -- God was justifiably quixotic and one wrong thing or going too far over the patience meter and ka-boom! Smite time!
It's hard to live with a God like that. Even if you don't get "smited". Every bad thing feels like a doomsday premonition, "This is just the beginning of what is about to unfold." Granted, I grew up in a home that still fixates on that kind of stuff. Still looks for another rendition of the Flood (but with Fire) or a massive, world-wide replay of what happened to Sodom and Gomorreh. This godview affects your everyday worldview. It becomes your filter of how you see things. Influences your parenting style and how you relate to everything around you, from your spouse, to your friends, and even your dog. I don't know what your view of God or a Higher Power is, but that was mine until the Fall of 2013.
Though I didn't realize it, that was the first big thing that doing my step work taught me: God is bigger and more than I can understand. Allowing God to be that (massively more), for me, gave me the freedom to let God be. Let God be what God is, not what I've made, or supposed, God to be.
God is love. This much is what I know and believe. And it is enough.
The second profound thing through that initial process that I learned was that I am not God. I came to realize that I played "god" a lot. Or at least play the version of god I had created in my head: controlling, judgmental, quixotic, capricious, justified. Oh, sure, some days I could be a gracious and loving god, but more than likely, you were going to screw it up, exhaust my patience meter, and then I could be justifiably angry at you and call down lightening bolts from heaven to smite you, or at the very least, judge you. Hmmm. That was an unexpected bit of uncomfortable self-knowledge, similar to an over-sized hairball. So, I began to practice tolerance and letting God be God and letting me be a real human, whatever that is. I began to let go of the things that I can't control or change and leave that to God as well. Finally, if it wasn't love, I wasn't going to chalk it up to God either, because, for me, first and foremost, God is love.
Thirdly, it became very clear to me that I did not have to have an opinion or a judgment about everything. Could actually choose not to form an opinion. Can let that opinion be "in God's hands" and not mine. Ever. And that was o.k. Talk about freedom! Earth-shakingly profound is what that is to me.
God is love. And if I want to be like God, then I become love as well:
It is clear that I am not God. What I am is a real human, who loves God and is learning to love her fellow creatures here on this beautiful, abundant world. Maybe one day that love will completely fill me, and I will become infused with pure, divine love, and so then become, as one holy man put it, "all flame". And that holy fire, is perhaps the fire, that shall renew both us and the world. To answer my friend's honest question: these days what you see is what you get with me-- no more masks, not even deep down. That is my deepest hope.