I was asked recently “put your own bitterness aside and accept the video on its face value” after a comment I said about the Methodist church ministering WITH people. My reaction inside of my mind was “of course they are going to ministry with people, except they will never ordain or support the ministry and call of a man who consider himself part of the LGTBQ community”. Can you sense the hurt in this statement? Of course it is there, it is part of my life right now, the wound have not healed yet and I am still trying to understand or even wonder where my life is headed.
How can I put aside the pain of a deep wound? Is that really possible? Some will answer “yes” because they have their faith rooted, and that faith can help them overcome their obstacles. But when that wound was made by the people who called themselves “believers and followers”, is hard to apply the healing of “Jesus” into my own life. So bitterness resurfaced and suddenly without really wanting, comes out of my mind and heart and it express its suffering to and toward others, in this case the religious fundamentalist Christian community. I wish I could easily divide my own feelings so I could control how I am going to react to some comments, but honestly I am still practicing that gift that I have not been able to overcome. Some feelings just want to come out abruptly without asking permission or even considering the fact that some people won’t like them.
How can I not over react when I received a call from an old “friend” asking me how is my personal life? When I know he is worry because of my “decision” to pursue the life that will take me eventually for a spiritual death. (According to his own believes) He wants to hear from me that I live a miserable life because two years ago I decided to come out into a life of freedom, and acceptance. I changed a life of depression, isolation and secrecy, to a life of realness, vulnerability and openness; and that, for most of them, is like changing good for evil. He would like to hear that I regretted the journey I have taken, and I will come back to the “lord’s way”.
Yes! I am bitter, and I believe the first step into healing is to accept this feeling, not as an awful one, but as part of the process of life. While reading the book “The Place that Scare you” by Pema Chödron, I came into a quote that I really liked: “In other traditions demons are expelled externally. But in my tradition demons are accepted with compassion” (Machik Labdrön) According to Buddhism, in order to be compassionate we need to also feel pain. So the more I acknowledge my own pain in bitterness, the more I will be able to feel compassion. Am I there yet? Not at all, but I am walking towards that. Pema says: “Forgiveness, it seems, cannot be forced. When we are brave enough to open our hearts to ourselves, however, forgiveness will emerge. There is a simple practice we can do to cultivate forgiveness. First we acknowledge what we feel—shame, revenge, embarrassment, remorse. Then we forgive ourselves for being human. Then, in the spirit of not wallowing in the pain, we let go and make a fresh start”. (Fresh Start, pp 82)
I would like to put aside my bitterness right now, but I cannot. If you who have been able to overcome that side of your life, please I will ask you to walk with me, and then maybe I will be able to see Jesus, Buddha, Mary, nature, community, or the God of the universe in you; then perhaps I could make a new and fresh start. Please do not take my demons away from me, let me learn and have compassion for them.
When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just wanting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world. (Pema Chödron, The Importance of Pain, pp83)