It is easier, much easier, to reflect and learn on the life of another than it is to look in an unfiltered mirror. It would be wonderful if I could suggest that somehow, someway I was different, but reality suggests that I have the same weaknesses as the ones I can see in others.
I watch with concern. A friend was trapped in a world of his making. It was as if he was “locked in a dark cell, cruelly confined behind bars.” (Psalm 107.10) I could see some of the decisions that had led him to end up where he was. Some of them were habits, others weaknesses. At times he prioritized himself. On other occasions it was an unwillingness to change his path once he had started.
As I think of my response to where he was and is, along with a thought about myself, I find myself coming back to the following mantras.
Being charitable is at the heart of compassion, empathy, and acceptance. To be truly charitable, one needs to start with one’s self. Unconditionally accepting one’s self, in strengths and in weaknesses, in success and failures, in good times as well as ugly ones, open the door of opportunity.
Acceptance does not mean ignoring or turning a blind eye to the past. Acceptance means an embrace of love, of a willingness to be and walk with another. It includes a willingness to share burdens, to cry and lament, and to celebrate together.
In my experience when I am charitable and accepting, the bars I have constructed weaken their grip over my life. To break free means I need to take a step forward in learning and growth. In means I will determine to do things differently. It is never about perfection, it is about learning, growing, and reaching for what is best.
Yesterday’s traps need not be today’s. Within you and I is a key of freedom. It may seem hidden, but it is within us. There is a catch; nobody can turn it for us. Only we can use it.