I have recently had to revisit the wisdom of that teaching.
Many years ago, I loaned a sum of money to individuals who were like family to me. I didn’t formalize the loan with any legal documents, and trusted in their word and integrity to pay it back.
It came as a slap in the face to be told that, not only could they not pay back the loan, but that they considered what I had given them to be a gift.
I’ve spent the last few months doing a lot of inner work (especially self-forgiveness and Ho’oponopono) to deal with the anger, the betrayal and the humiliation. I’ve felt stupid, naïve and, above all else, terribly wounded.
Of course, I’ve taken legal action; but those of you who follow my writings know that I try to look upon these situations from the lens of Spirit, and to use them as opportunities for growth on all levels.
It would be easy to stay in the role of victim, and not examine my contributions, no matter how unconscious, to this drama. When I can finally come to the place of stillness and non-judgment, I begin to see that, perhaps, I created this scenario so that, at the highest levels, I expand my understanding of what it means to help another.
I believed I was doing the right thing by helping. I believed I was being understanding and compassionate.
But was I being wise?
I understand now that I wasn’t.
In my rush to fix my friends’ money problems and not see them suffer, I neglected to ask myself whether giving money would truly solve the deeper questions of their lives that they needed to address.
In my rush to be a saviour, helper and good friend, I neglected to see them as wise individuals capable of finding creative solutions to their self-made problems. I didn’t give them the chance to make difficult, values-based decisions, or to flex their problem-solving muscles.
Without meaning to, I disempowered them.
All parents understand this lesson well. It’s easy to step in and do everything for our children, but we know that in so doing, we take away their power to develop those all-important abilities to rationalize, to intuit, to reach beyond their known limits. There is power in the struggle, in the wrestling with ideas and feelings, in the arriving to a more confident place of understanding and wisdom.
But I didn’t have that wisdom then… :-)
Now, before offering to help or fix a situation, with money or time, I ask myself:
Why am I doing this? Are my actions in service to the highest within me? Within them? Or am I simply assuaging my guilt?
Do my actions empower them, or keep them as victims?
How am I seeing them? As incapable and in-need? Or fully capable and creative beings?
These are not easy questions to answer, for they force ME to wrestle and struggle with what I believe and with who I am as an individual.
But isn’t that what we’re all ultimately here for?
One of the techniques that has helped me move on from this situation, and gain a measure of peace, is a practice popularized by the Christian mystic Emmett Fox. It goes something like this:
“I now affirm and acknowledge the presence of Divine Truth, and only Truth, in them, in me and in this situation. It is the only consciousness at work. It arises in them and me, standing in full dominion, giving us each the courage to act with wisdom and love, rather than fear. And through Divine Power and Intelligence, I know that this situation is resolving itself for the highest good of all. I choose now to only allow those energies to manifest and be at play. A higher mind than mine is now working here, and I allow it to do its work.”
Or something like that, it depends on the moment!
The point is to only allow that consciousness, that energy, those words to permeate my thinking at all times.
I don’t always pull it off; but, when I do, I feel a tremendous power within me. I feel as if I’m not alone on this path, and that I am healing us and this situation on levels I can’t even begin to imagine.
Above all, I feel that I have honoured the spiritual path I am walking, to the best of my abilities today and now.
I hope this experience serves you in your life journeys.