I’m not talking about some kind paramilitary camping trip where we play catch with ten pound kettle balls and then climb ropes using only our teeth. That kind of boot camp is easy.
I’m talking about spiritual boot camp where you’ll be forced to face up to who you really are; where you’ll be begging the Divine to deliver you, where you’ll see how deluded you’ve been about your own spiritual growth.
And I’m not talking about any kind of wussy, woodland retreat center that offers, “a monastic milieu that promises silence, solitude and stillness.”
I’m talking about moving an elderly parent from the home in which you grew up. The same home in which your parents have lived for sixty-seven years and accumulated enough stuff for sixty-seven lifetimes!
I’m talking about a place where your parent cherishes a vintage egg beater that belonged to her mother but doesn’t grasp the preciousness of the ceramic cat holding a candy cane you made in fifth grade.
This is the place where you will discover how incredibly unsatisfying it is to say, “I told you so.” No matter how many months ago you said, “Start sorting now,” they just don’t listen. It’s like warning small children they’ll get sick from eating all that candy. They just don’t believe you! Fine. But there is no satisfaction in watching either of them moan and groan as they vomit or finally realize the movers arrive tomorrow.
Think you’re compassionate, forgiving and understanding? I invite you to this particular spiritual boot camp. But here’s the catch: you can’t use my parent, you have to use your own! Why? Because your parents have their own special way of helping you—well, let’s just say—evolve.
Many before me have said that very few people grow spiritually just from prayer and meditation, but most people grow through suffering. I am one of them.
Your impatience, frustration and eye-stabbing anger at your parent(s) is not the worse part. The worst part is having those feelings about yourself because you have failed to be compassionate, forgiving and understanding.
Don’t think reading the Bible will be any comfort to you. It will make things worse. And then it will make things better.
Most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 AKA “The Love Chapter.” It’s often read at weddings because it’s perfect to keep in mind when you are beginning a life path with another human—or any human—at any time. Well, let’s just say that if it weren’t so long I’d tattoo it on my forearm.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)
This is so beautiful and so much easier when you apply it to other humans. It is much harder to apply to yourself. Here’s how it would read if you were relating it only to yourself.
“I am patient and kind to myself. I don’t dishonor myself with negative self-talk. I don’t easily get mad at myself nor do I keep a record of my stupidity. I don’t shame myself when I screw-up but rejoice when I have an insight. I protect and always trust myself. I always hope and always persevere.”
Breathtaking isn’t it?
We’re fooling ourselves if we think that we can be patient and kind to everyone else and torture only ourselves. How I treat myself bleeds into how I feel about others whether I show it or not.
How can we love our enemies if we can’t love ourselves?
I’ll leave you with one more rewritten Bible verse:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to [yourself[, tenderhearted, forgiving [yourself] , as God in Christ forgave you.
May we make it so.
And please donate everything you own to the Superfluity sale. Your children will thank you.