This week I felt like a cuckoo bird. Sitting in a room full of boxes in a new place will do that to me. I noticed that because I felt insecure in my living space (i.e., everything was new and disorganized), that also meant my insecurity regarding relationships came up. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m anxious attachment, which in a nutshell means I feel uncertain in my relationships.
That anxiety and sensitivity was on hyperdrive this week as I found myself spinning out over the tiniest things. For instance, I texted my neighbor and when she didn’t respond right away I started thinking the worst: “She doesn’t want to talk to me! I’m bugging her! She regrets having me as her neighbor!” Of course, that wasn’t true and instead she was just busy, but still. When I’m in that anxious state I take everything personally. I try to read people’s minds and make every action, or inaction, of theirs a reflection on me. I want to modulate my behavior in order to maintain a connection with the person.
Talk about making myself crazy, right?
One of the things that helped me so much with this is a quote misattributed to Mother Teresa. It’s a variant or paraphrase of The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith, but I like the inaccurate quote better than the original:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Ahhhh. I’m breathing a sigh of relief just reading that again. Whenever I try to curb or modulate my behavior, I’m making it between us, when actually it’s between God and me. When I express my love for another, I’m really expressing my love for God in the form of a person, and it’s not up to me whether the person accepts it or not. That part is out of my hands. And because the universe is infinite and creative, it’s quite likely that if the person I’m expressing affection to rejects it, I’ll receive love from some other person. For God, there is no limit and there is no distinction.
What I’m saying is it doesn’t matter if my neighbor doesn’t text me back right away, or some guy rejects me, because it was never between us. It was between God and me anyway, and the more I shore up my relationship with my higher power, the better off I’ll be. The more that I stop taking things so personally and practice forgiveness, kindness, honesty, and service regardless of how people respond, the happier I will be.
I dream of a world where we we see relationships as an expression between God and ourselves. A world where we show up fully regardless of other people. A world where we value our relationship with ourselves because we understand ultimately everything is between God and us anyway.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.