In the month of love, there was a question that kept coming up in conversation; When is Love not enough?
Technically love is always a good plan, but if empathy is missing or judgement is present, it can prevent the fullest potential that can love hold. Furthermore, the act of self empathy, enables an awareness of who we are as outcasts, which is how comfortable we are in our communities as our true self. Just as much as that is true, so also is the reality that there are often layers of awareness to peel away, before a non-judgmental love is able to reside within our communities.
The first step in moving from judgment, is being aware we have judgement. While also recognizing, that we hold within ourselves the same capability of judgment and empathy. This can also be seen as love and fear or light and dark, each being the opposite of the other. However, if we learn to move back and forth, in such a way as Carl Jung suggests being familiar with our shadow and light sides, we can move closer to balance.
At this moment it may feel like we are moving down a winding path, that might be full of unknown, so hold on.
This all reminds me of a saying I have, “there is no light at the end of the tunnel”, in response to someone saying, “I see the light at the end of the tunnel”. This saying, holds to me the feeling of only seeing dark, forgetting that there is a light switch inside the tunnel. Though an existential thinker may say there is no tunnel either. Right now, we will have a tunnel and save the existential post for another time.
Another way to look at it, is if we are only looking for the end result, we will miss a lot in the middle. If we can only see the dark, then the light is always out there, without noticing what we already hold. Just as much as the light placement, can limit our field of vision, if we are only looking at the light. Neither one offers an opportunity to see clearly, which opens the awareness to find the balance between light and dark. Which is the mystery in the middle.
This Christian space we are asked to live, is the middle way, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. “(Matthew 7:14). The middle way, is accepting otherness around us. Of knowing there are other possibilities, because if our possibility works well for us it may not for others. The narrow gate, reminds me of watching a sunrise across the ocean, it could also be a vast plane or along the edge of a mountain range. The sky is dim only shadows of trees, people or birds, with bursts of color streaming across the sky. There is so much happening, before being fully in the light. The sun continues to rise, allowing more light through, just as the edges look golden for seconds before a glowing orange ball appears in our sight. Ahhhhh, light and warmth rising upward into the sky. Then once in the light, we see everything offered more clearly, which is also an opportunity to become distracted with what is right in front of us, that we forget the brilliant display just minutes before. A similar show happens with a sunset, offering another brilliant reminder of light, before the dark. To remember, it is easy to miss the show in the narrow middle space, if we are only looking for the immediate brightness of light. Even the sun gradually shows all it’s light potential.
Maybe the gate is narrow, because being in the middle also asks us to be vulnerable. As an outcast finding that balance might first be for ourselves, before love is able to ripple outward. If we each remember that we all approach life with a different set of experiences and ways of processing what is before us, we can begin to embrace unrestricted compassion.
The action of love begins inside of us, not outside. The light is already here! (Ephesians 3:16-17)
YES, love is enough. Then the love grows when we can approach each person with empathy to begin the act of letting go of judgement. The release of judgement opens the door to end discrimination and exclusion. The grace in empathy, is listening and knowing there is another way that people may experience life. This is when we are able to see there is more in common with us, than between us. That place in the middle is the kind of compassionate love that is merciful.