I can’t stand it when someone goes into victim mode and defends their right to be there.
The story goes something like this. “This woman cut in line in front of me after I’d been standing there for fifteen minutes. I hadn’t eaten all day, and I didn’t know if I’d make it home without fainting. I wanted to say something, but what’s the point? No one listens to me anyway.”
Stories like that drive me crazy. I don’t even want to be around someone who perpetuates their misery.
I’m not alone in this. Some of you are thinking, “Oh, me too. I can’t stand that either.”
But not all of you are thinking that. At least one of you is able to be compassionate and curious about the person who often feels powerless. Some of you can wonder about their story. You can allow them to be there and honour where they are in life’s journey.
You saintly folk can make me feel guilty real fast. But what if I put self-judgment aside and simply offered compassion to myself right now? What if I heard God sigh with me and say, “It’s hard for you to hear those stories.”
After I allow myself to feel what I feel without judgment and with compassion, I can listen to my irritation. What does it want me to know?
I took a moment to let go of the other person’s story and sat with God in mine. I imagined Love coming close and listening tenderly. I recalled an interview with Tara Brach. In it, she asked a question. “What are you unwilling to feel?
Under my irritation, was a feeling of being trapped and desperately wanting out. I’ve felt like that at times in my life. Dark miserable times when the words or actions of others fed my self-loathing stretched into my thirties and forties. Not many people had the patience to listen to my sad stories. But some did, and their love and acceptance allowed me to believe God loved and accepted me as well. Eventually, I found strength and a voice, and ways to not be a victim to other people’s words or actions.
What am I unwilling to feel? I don’t want to feel trapped and helpless. As I listened compassionately to my soul, I recognized that I’ve unconsciously used blame and shame to protect myself from ever feeling that way again. I don’t want to be the person I was, so I join with those who had no patience for me.
But the One who let me be a victim has endless patience and tenderness and didn’t leave my side. God loved who I was then as much as God loves who I am now.
Valarie Kaur said, “You are a part of me I have not yet met.” Her words help me take the next step. That person who was trapped in victim mode is a part of me I have not loved yet.
God spares us from nothing. Whatever it means that God takes care of us, it clearly does not mean that God prevents tragic, really cruel things from happening to us. It clearly doesn’t mean that. But what it does mean is that it’s possible to discover that God infinitely sustains us in all things. —James Finley
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During Lent, I invite you to walk with some questions. In this short video clip, Tara Brach talks about the first Lenten question, “What are you unwilling to feel?” Click here for another guided meditation by Tara Brach on self-compassion.