I spend a fair amount of time on the internet. Mostly for work; sometimes for play. I have certain things I look at everyday. That is all for play. I check my horoscopes (yes… I check two… I’m crazy, I know). I check my email. I check Facebook. I check the quote of the day on BrainyQuotes.com, which often provides some sort of inspiration for my day. It’s probably just the kind of person I am, but I tend to find something to lift my heart in many different places. The thought is that, by doing that, I can try rise above whatever is holding me down. The last several days have been just that sort of time. I don’t know what had me by the ankles. But I felt like I was drowning. I’m doing better today.
I often feel like God speaks to me through those types of things, and whispers to my heart whatever message He knows I need to hear. And other times, God speaks His message through me, to someone else that might need it. Either way, I’m just blessed to have that relationship with God, and honored that I can help lift others, when given the opportunity.
So there I was, doing my daily OCD checks-of-the-day, and I found a quote that I liked. Which was nice. But then, I continued reading and I found this:
You philosophers are lucky men. You write on paper and paper is patient. Unfortunate Empress that I am, I write on the susceptible skins of living beings. ~Catherine the Great
So, you read that, and at first it seems all political, right? And you think, “Sure… it’s easy to criticize our leaders, but hard to be the leader being criticized.” But look a little deeper than that. Re-read it. Go ahead… I’ll wait. That quote is really saying this:
All of you with opinions, looking in from the outside, have it easy. It’s easy to judge, cast your opinion out like a net meant to entrap me, change your mind and recast the net again. But you don’t have to live with it. No one holds you accountable to opinion. Me, on the other hand? I make a choice, and that choice is etched into me, somewhere, forever. My choice may be wrong… my choice may be right. But I live with it forever, while you’re busy casting nets.
You don’t have any idea how this spoke to me this morning. Don’t get me wrong – I make judgements all the time. And, sometimes, I feel like I am a horrible person because I think these things. But you know what I try to do? I try not to trap people in the net of my opinion. If you put someone in a box for too long, one of two things will happen. Either A) he will get accustomed to that restriction, and slowly become every thing you tell him he is. Or B) He will live in that place for a little while, and eventually break the confines of that restriction with the ferocity of a wild animal – looking for any sign of freedom.
I’ve seen this over and over. Do you know how many times a parent has trapped their kid in the net of their misplaced expectation? Or how often I hear someone talk about their spouse in terms of absolutes: can’t, won’t, always, never. What about the things we say to our “friends” (notice the quotes around that)? We point the finger and lay blame, and in the end… how are we accountable to that? We say, “It’s just my opinion,” or “I can’t help how I feel.” I call bullshit. There is a distinct difference between putting someone in the box of your opinion and letting them know where you stand. I’ve been in situations with loved ones who have hurt me. But it’s never okay to say, “You’ve done this to me,” versus, “I’m hurt that this is where we are now.” It’s so much better to say, “I’m disappointed,” than it is to say, “You’re wrong.”
And that goes double for the situations that you aren’t a part of. Yeah, I get it: I have people I love that I am furiously protective of. And it angers me, in ways you can’t imagine, when they are hurting at the hands of someone else. But my job isn’t to cast blame and perpetuate rumors and magnify a problem. My job is simple: love. Love that person who is hurting. Nurse their heart until it is stronger again and help them through it. I can’t account for the other person’s choices. I can only account for myself. And *my* choices.
So… what are you putting into your relationships? How many people have you trapped in the net of your opinion? And what does that say about you? Do you, somehow, feel more righteous for it? Does that opinion absolve you from the mistakes you, yourself, have made?
Or – are you the one trapped in that net? Release yourself. Forgive them for their ignorance; they obviously don’t understand the ramifications of their actions. But you can only account for you. And their opinions mean nothing. At the end of the day – words are only words. It’s your actions that define your character. And you will make mistakes; you *will* fail. But that’s okay. Failure is the human condition. Once you release yourself from the net of someone else’s expectation, there is a freedom in your soul that cannot be put into words. Make your choices. Let them be carved into your heart; let them be tattooed on your flesh; let them be etched into your soul. But own who *you* are, first. Let the rest of the world take care of themselves.
You have a purpose on earth. And believe me, God’s purpose for you was *not* to live in the net of expectation.
And you can quote me on that.