One of my colleagues in my Doctoral Program described one of the motivation factors in addiction recovery groups. He said that there is a common feeling of, “I only have this one day, so I can do this!” He said that a connected idea is that as they look around the group and hear each other’s stories, then naturally the thought bubbles up, “if he/she can do this, then so can I!” As we explored the story about the birth of Jesus, my husband brought this question to the congregation, “What are you allowing God to give birth through you?” I heard his words through the lens of my colleague saying, “If Mary and Joseph can do this, then so can I!”
This line of thinking celebrates our uniqueness and our interconnectedness. Our inner dialogue shouts, “If they in all their unique beauty and earthly humanity can do this, then so can I!” This is a celebration of our interconnectedness that is fueled and protected by practicing gratitude, compassion and loving kindness or metta.
The challenges to this line of thinking can lead to feeling that happiness is a scarce commodity so that if one person is happy, then there is not enough for me. We begin comparing, demeaning, and judging so that the very thing that could bring us closer together in this one day is the thing that drives us apart. Our practice of meditation, devotion, study, yoga asanas, moral and ethical living protect and guide us along the path.
I desire to be courageous enough to give birth to something meaningful each day. In the past, I would have looked to a hero to provide the energy for taking that next step. For me, I would burn out with this approach because my hero would seem too damn good for human’s sake. Today, I think about this a little differently. Today, I am looking at my own story and saying, “if I can do that yesterday, then I can do this today.” The past two years challenged me beyond what I felt capable of doing/being in this world, but I had a spiritual guide leading from within me. I also look to Jesus’s life and story as I understand the story which leads me to uncover and connect back to my original goodness (Genesis 1). And if I can live into that goodness a little yesterday, then I can uncover more of that goodness today.
I am learning:
If I can move from the exclusive thinking I was brought up in regarding my faith tradition to finding unique beauty and connectedness between faith traditions, then I can be more inclusive today.
If I can accept love in all its many forms along my journey, then I can accept what love offers/teaches me today.
If I can set free the narrative of a people who hurt me deeply to see that they are not stuck in their own shitty story, but are capable of change, then I can do that for someone else today.
If I can change my mind to change my brain to change my mind, then today I can continue to rewire my brain (Neuroplasticity) today.
If I can step out and lead yesterday, then I can step out and lead today.
If I can see (notice and observe) people yesterday, then I can see people today.
If I can offer a listening ear yesterday, then I can offer a listening ear today.
If I can do this in all my unique beauty and earthly humanity, then so can you!
For the new year, I encourage you to find that one person that you can say,“If he/she can do this, then so can I!” Maybe it is someone in a story in your sacred text that fuels you to live more fully into who you are for this one day. Maybe it is your spouse or your child that you see putting one foot in front of the other that encourages you to take the next step. Maybe it’s a teacher or a mentor. Or maybe, all you need is to take a deeper look at yourself. Join me in living each day as though you have arrived in God’s Kingdom, fully alive, free and loved.
- Sharon Salzberg, Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Boulder: Shambala
Publications, 1995), 130-131.