It was one of those crisp and glorious winter days. You know the kind of day, when the taste of renewal is fresh on the lips, when the sun's warmth pulsates through your body, heating you to your bones, making the dust pirouette in the luminosity like glitter. The kind of day that you touch and it changes all that you know.
If I had recognised what lurked around the corner at the time, I wouldn't have gone near it with a barge pole. I would have opted for rain followed by a southerly wind and perhaps a good mind numbing movie that kept me in my ignorance. But instead, there was sunshine and with it came the harsh realisation of my shadow self.
This particular day, I had my trim flat white in hand, cute beanie and oversized sunglasses on, I was a picture of style and composure (I would go so far as to say, one of the best pictures Hamilton had ever seen but according to some of my friends, that's not a glowing endorsement) at my little brother's soccer game.
The game itself was electrifying, full of drama, free kicks and the occasional swear word-most of them coming from me. But as I watched my wee brother dart all over the field, his coach bellowing directions and reprimands at him and the opposition performing what I thought were illegal and dangerous moves on him, something in me took over.
The greatest of these is love…until I don't love you anymore.
Gone was the warm bones, sunshine and glitter, I no longer cared about people, and certainly not about these egotistical little wannabes who I deemed to be treating my brother unfairly. My allegiance to him and what I believed was right, cascaded and it took all that I was not to march out onto that field, punch some people in the nose and usher him to safety.
The reality is, is that Connor loved the game and thought I was being ridiculous and perhaps a wee bit imperious when I rushed to his side, post-match to inform him of my plans to get justice and ensure revenge. And this got me thinking…perhaps the way I see it to be, isn't a true reflection of how it actually is.
Naturally this annoyed me, feelings are incredibly narcissistic and I wanted desperately to be justified in feeling the way I was. I tried to woo Connor to my side by pointing out different sneaky tactics and times when the referee had sided against him. But as usual, my strong, tolerant and better–than-me brother, uttered words of graceful acceptance and sauntered off to have a shower.
Keepin' it real
This is not the only example of a sanctimonious supposition that has presented itself in my life. I have a whole pet shop full of awkward, yapping assumptions that err on the side of ugly as opposed to cute and cost me too much money to keep.
There are great qualities that I possess, attributes like tenacity, loyalty and dedication that serve me well in serving others, but there are times when tenacity turns into a stubborn insistence that I am right, when loyalty morphs and becomes more about generating security for myself than loving the other person freely, when dedication sees me flogging a dead horse, for want of a better idiom, not knowing how to let it go.
Obviously, I could spin you a yarn about how noble and honourable it is that I have my brother's back and how good of a person I am that I am willing to fight to defend him, but really the truth of the matter is, is that beyond the veneer of fiery love is an inability to accept the things I cannot change and that is really the foundation of my struggle.
I often wonder if any of us, as flawed and broken human beings, separate from God, can distinguish who we actually are. I think we're all a little bit insecure, all carrying our shame around in pockets of pain, carefully categorizing the people around us into either allies or antagonists.
Taking a second look
But what happens when the goodie becomes the baddie, crushing all that we have ever known to be true and hopeful? Or when the beat up, bad mannered adversary is actually a wee bit of a sweetie? Somewhere along the line, I have gazed too long into a cracked mirror and bought into the lie that my fight has a face and it looks like yours.
The state of humanity has publicised itself in bold print to me lately and I am aware that it is not going to get any healthier with me gallivanting all over the place on crusades of self-righteousness. Dietrich Bonheoffer champions that "we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer." This would in turn require us to look upon ourselves with the same grace and exoneration.
Mistaking the suffering and wounds of others as a direct threat to our own safety or that of the ones we love, we come out fighting. Somehow, we think that if we can make them bleed first, it might appease something in us.
The heart of the matter
There in which lies the true essence of the war we are fighting. It is problematic to want for more in reconnecting with the humanity of the people who have offended us. Henri Nouwen summed up beautifully when he said, "Love and wounds are never separate".
Ironic really, that they would be one in the same, especially when we spend time and energy trying to obtain one while evading the other and yet, it makes perfect sense in light of the greatest story of unsolicited, disproportionate grace…by his wounds we are healed.
Living life is filled with tension, like a soccer game on a sunny Saturday in July, propelling us into complexities, punitively teaching us about how very little we have control over. Perhaps there is more to life than subjects we can control.
For a person who hates to get it wrong, is unnerved by unknowns and fervently champions my own version of justice, this is quite a job. But I have an enduring hope that the same love that has travelled my deepest darkness, will allow me the grace to be unassuming, the strength to be charitably forgiving and the courage to face being wounded in my fight to love well.
But hey, I could be wrong.
First published August 12, 2013
Gemma Taylor despite constant scorn and painful jokes is proudly from the Waikato; although she is presently living in Auckland with her fingers in many pies. She is inspired by truth, creativity and connection. Gemma writes for buoyancy and hopes to one day live wholly by the ideas that she writes of.
Gemma Taylor previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-taylor.html