Affirmation: I freely forgive myself and others.
I am having a crisis of faith. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend within the last month, two workshops revolving around mindfulness. The first was a two day yoga workshop taught by a Buddhist monk. The second was a day long silent sangha (community gathering) taught by an ordained minister in the tradition of Tich Nat Han. Along with these two events, I have been immersed in my Catholic Lenten tradition. The same themes keep coming up: Love, Kindness, Compassion & Equanimity. One of my affirmations is: I live a Christ-centered life of love, peace, joy, gratitude and compassion. I have been working on these themes for a long time but I have a question, something about which I am very confused. At what point in a relationship are we supposed to take care of ourselves? According to AA, that’s one of our first responsibilities but whenever it’s addressed in a spiritual context, it’s always about being forgiving and compassionate towards the other. Throughout Lent and these workshops, I have been led to look at the things that people do that upset me and find in myself what is wrong with me and then to respond to them with loving kindness. I am kind. I do forgive. I have worked hard in my life to not overreact to someone else’s issues but don’t you think there are times when we have a responsibility to remove ourselves from a relationship? And, don’t you think no matter how gently you try to do that, the other person generally gets angry with you, feels hurt and abandoned? And then what? What is your responsibility then? Are you supposed to continue to be a part of their lives at your own expense? Let’s take an extreme case, how about someone who abuses you, either physically or verbally? We can’t possibly be expected to stay in a relationship like that. What does the Buddhist say then, or Tich Nat Han or Jesus? When is this discussed? I can tell you, it wasn’t discussed at the retreats I attended. It never seems to be discussed. It always seems to me like I am getting the same message: Get along with everyone. If you’re not getting along with someone, it is something within you that is askew. Isn’t it possible to forgive others but not want them in your life? How do the “spiritually evolved” balance self care and compassion? If we are not compassionate with ourselves, how can we possibly be compassionate towards others? Isn’t the greatest commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself? " Perhaps, the answer lies here in this writing. Maybe it is a question of balance. Finding that place in you where you can love another but recognize that in order to survive you need to love yourself, too.