When I was young, I believed that losing my temper was a part of life and no big deal. I mean, it was over almost as soon as it happened and even though it was likely to happen again soon, it was no big deal. I only really got pissed rarely – which is a mildly terrifying place where I’ve reached the end of my rope and have no bluster left. I’m speak quietly and concisely and once I’ve reached that point, I’m done. So since my flashes of temper were quick, bright, and over quickly, it was okay, right?
Except it wasn’t, really. I’ve been told that some people who were really close to me where always on edge with me because you never knew when I’d blow or who it would be directed at. I never hurt anyone physically, I never laid hands on anyone. But I’m loud and I’m big and, once upon a time, I took advantage of that. I thought it was no big deal and it didn’t hurt anyone, so why should I change. I was young.
Of course, saying that, I’m nearly 30 and I still feel young. Not going to get into my age and if I’m actually young any longer (maybe around my birthday if I get to feeling morose! bah), but to say I’ve grown up is an understatement. And as I have, I’ve mellowed out, a lot. Part of that, I think, is just a matter of actually growing up, of living life and opening my eyes to more than just my own narrow focus of me. It’s hard to take a good long look at the world, acknowledge that the people around you are just as deserving as you are, and continue to have a temper problem, even if you didn’t once see it as such.
But part of it is my growing, deepening faith.Ah, now the title of this post might begin to make sense!
I’ve spoken of my faith many, many times on this blog. The writing of this is based in my faith, even as it bounces around to incorporate every other part of my life. And I’ve spoken quite a bit lately about what I see as the heart of my faith, joy. And yes, it is hard to indulge in a short temper – even one that passes quickly – when your focus is on joy. But there’s more to it than that. Because joy is pretty subjective and selfish (though it’s a good kind of selfish, I think). There’s something that is very much a part of my path, a part of my life, that I think affects my refusal to be that angry person any longer, that pushes me to be more gentle with everyone around – including myself, most recently. I don’t know why I’ve never mentioned it – maybe because it’s one of those things that is so integral to my life that I forgot to mention it, but maybe it’s time.
Love. Hold on, let’s try that again.
Ah, much better. Yes, for me, love is a tenant of my faith. Love is the foundation of my life in a way that I never understood until I met and fell in love with Sir Joshimus. Not because I wasn’t loved as a child – I don’t know that I can ever say enough how loving my mother (and several other family members) were and are. Sometimes I worry that the things I post will come across badly, will somehow give the message that my mom was anything less than the best mother I could have hoped for. Because I can’t begin to imagine how hard it was having a kid like me – how hard it still is – that you don’t completely understand. But, y’all, my Momma was and still is awesome. But there were other things in my life – my father in particular – that left me feeling most of the time that I was unworthy of love and doing my best to build a defense against it. I built up walls around my heart as high and thick as I could. People were all well and good, but I tried to never let anyone get too close, become too important. Some of them did anyway, but they were few and far between. I was jaded, and I liked it that way. (how many other 14 year olds do you know that break up with their boyfriends because those boyfriends said “I love you”? 20 year olds? I was both)
And then I met my husband. Before I knew what was happening, before I allowed myself to recognize what was happening, I fell in love with the greatest man I’ve ever known. And over the better part of a decade, he has demolished all the walls I’ve put up to stop love. I’m still discerning about who I share my love with, but those that have it have it unconditionally now. Part of that is because I don’t allow anyone to muddy the waters of the love I have to give, because I’m careful about who I let in. But most of it is a wellspring of love that opened in my heart when I fell for Joshimus Rex and he fell back. And it is a wellspring that has been tapped by my Gods and expounded upon with every blessing, with every trial that I’ve been lead through and come out the other side of. They waited until I was ready – like so much of my relationship(s) with Them have been – until I was properly prepared before They increased Their demands on my life. A good example of this is how each has come to my life when I was finally in a place to be ready to accept Them.
It’s been quite a while since I spoke of the future that Sir Joshimus and I feel is waiting for us – the future of building a community where people are welcome and help one another without judgment. It’s still something that will happen one day, when we’re in a place where we won’t be leaving that community wanting when we leave. But to build that community, to put in the love and work to make that community what we both feel called to make it, requires a heart open and full of love. And, man, once upon a time I had nothing in me for such a task. But I’ve been pushed, pulled, coerced and loved into submission and it’s a place I can’t fathom leaving again, except to go further in.
Christians operate on a world of grace – believing they are inherently sinful and bad and that only Grace saves them from being those people. I can’t pretend to operate under a Christian worldview and say that the reason I am who and how I am is through grace. But it’s a good word. I operate on a world of love. (not to say Christians don’t have a world of love – please remember that when I make comparative statements, they aren’t statements of judgment!!) I don’t have grace in the way Christians have it. I don’t believe humanity is sinful/bad/wrong naturally. I think that humanity is naturally good, solid, and loving. I’ve seen it too many times. Yes, there are bad people in the world. But there are so many more that are good – not because they have to be or because they are being forced to be. People are, at their heart, good people given the chance.
And that love, the good I believe that exists in people, is what helps me further see the good in people. So love is the foundation that my faith is built upon – the foundation of my entire life, really. Joy is the heart of my faith, but love is the foundation. Christians have grace….I don’t have grace. But I have enough love that I don’t think it matters; I have enough love that I honestly believe we can all make a world community that will one day not need the destruction that we still see. Oh, not in my lifetime, but one day. A little hippy dippy? Probably. But if you can’t have hope for the future, how can you take joy today? If you can, then good job! (no, there is no sarcasm in there) For me, it’s all part of the package.
Love leads to joy. I cannot wait to see where joy leads from there. But I know that it will always have that strongest of foundations, the greatest gift we have – a belief that is shared with every religion I’ve ever studied. Love.