“He is not sincere at all! He makes compliments all the time. He should give some criticisms so that others may be aware of their shortcomings and get improved. He makes me upset!”
Dear friend, when living with him, I felt uncomfortable each time he made a compliment to me. I did not see that I deserved it. Other people around me ‘loved me sincerely’ because they gave me some criticisms about my mistakes and shortcomings which needed to be fixed or perfected. It is often said that we should challenge one another to help one another grow. Did he not love me correctly?
As time went by, after having gone through different experiences in life, one day I suddenly understood “it” – a matter which is not only necessary for the manner we treat others everyday but also fundamental to the faith rooted in our Master Jesus. Before speaking about “it”, I would like to invite you to look at the little picture below. What do you see?
Back to the question: “Didn’t he love others?” Dear friend, I knew for sure that he was very loving. He not only loved everyone with whom he lived but also concretely expressed his love to each person. But why didn’t he challenge them so that they would grow more to perfection?
The picture above can help us undertand this question. When being unexpectedly asked about it, the majority would answer: “A black spot.” Very few people would say: “A bright golden background.” That black spot may be compared with a mistake, a shortcoming, a limitation, a fault, an unpleasant appearance, an eccentric habit, an awkward gesture, a clumsy action, a crime, a sin, …. The bright golden background is like the human person “created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) Compared with the bright golden background, the black spot is too little. In reality, it is even more insignificant. It is just like a quick wind, come and gone. It only belongs to the margin of the picture. However, it suddenly becomes the central point so dominant that it draws all the attention of the eyes. It is not certainly big at all; the eyes of the looker have given it that position. Really, that position is just an illusion. The problem is not in the black spot but in the eyes of the looker. How do you think?
Dear friend, to illustrate this picture a little more, I would like to invite you to examine a practical situation as follows. When those who are responsible for us (for example, our parents, our teachers, our older sister or brother, our superior, boss or coach,…) want to see us to talk about something, our mind often finds itself asking questions such as: “Oh my, what happened? Did I do something wrong? Does he/she not like something about me? …” Then almost immediately a defense mechanism is formed inside us. It seems that very rarely do we think the person wants to see us to praise us. On the part of the responsible, this temptation also exists: only when there is “something” (problematic) do they set up a time to “talk” (deal with) while there are always many good things that are fit for sharing and encouraging. Have you ever had this observation?
He no longer lives with me. A while ago, I sat down thinking about him and came to understand his way. Whenever he heard “something” about someone, his first reaction was to find a positive reason, a good point, a hope. Well, we still need to answer the question: Is it true that he did not care to give a criticism, a challenge to help others get improved? How do you think?
For me, yes! He did challenge me to do a very difficult but extremely important thing. If I am able to do it often, I will be more joyful, more in harmony, more optimistic, more patient and more grateful. If I can do it, my sisters and brothers around me will be more at peace with themselves and less afraid of me because they will feel more respected. If everyone can do it, life will be more of sympathy, tolerance and love. My dear friend, by the way he led his life, he challenged me to take courage to live my life with “the eye of resurrection”. We have to be courageous enough to look from this eye or perspective if we truly believe that God always triumphs, light is stronger than darkness, grace is more abundant than sins (Rm 5:20), life conquers death and love is more noble than hatred.
He helped me not only grow in the way I view others through the resurrection perspective but also be more conscious of a dangerous tendancy that wants to control others in the name of some good will (but actually selfishness if carefully examined). Oh, I have to add that he sometimes gave me his straightforward opinions regarding some matters, straightforward but sincere and gentle that made me feel respected, loved and free.
Dear friend, the attitude of living with “the eye of resurrection” has its foundation in God Himself, Who never loses hope in anyone in any situation (Ez 18:23, 33:11; Jn 6:40; 1Tim 2:4). In order to see this clearly, we only need to contemplate Jesus, God-with-us. To those who were considered sinful, useless, hopeless,…Jesus never got disappointed on them or abandoned them. On the contrary, he lovingly raised up “the image of God” in them and brought to life again their potentiality. No one was ever rejected. Everyone who suffered from weaknesses, limitations, sins, loneliness, poverty, sicknesses, low self-esteem, contempt, guilt, going astray, despair, etc… was respectfully welcomed and healed. Once having met Him, they all found peace, confidence and new life.
Dear friend, as his disciples, let us continue this resurrection Spirit of Jesus, our loving Master!
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.