Do you ever wonder where a lot of the pain we experience comes from? In our relationships, in our country, in our world? There seems to be no shortage of it. As a therapist, I get a front row seat to the daily pain in people’s lives.
Pain is an age-old experience, it seems to be as old as human beings are, dating all the way back to the time of Adam and Eve. Remember those cliché names you learned in Sunday School? I am not a Scripture scholar, but I always enjoy a good story.
So, the story of Adam and Eve goes like this: “God creates Adam and Eve, and they live in utter bliss in the Garden of Eden.” The Bible infers that in this garden there was no pain, no death, and no suffering of any kind. Doesn’t that sound really good to you?
Eve was then “tempted” to eat the “forbidden fruit” of the tree of knowledge and shared it with her husband. Then sin, death, pain and suffering had all entered the world.
It sounded like they had a pretty good deal here initially. Walking with God in a magical garden rid of pain, playing Dr. Doolittle with the animals. So why on earth would these two “hippies” decide that they wanted to mess it up? How could they have been duped to give it all up?
That question bothered me as a kid. I would ask Sunday school teachers and my parents questions like “Why did those people throw away paradise for some stupid fruit? Was it a starfruit? What kind of fruit was it anyway?”
(We all know that it wasn’t a banana. Nobody is going to sacrifice paradise for a banana.)
But that’s the story of our fall from grace. Over the years, I’ve come to believe there is more to this story and something we need to genuinely consider in our present day.
Scripture says that the serpent tempted Eve. Must have been a really good temptation. I think it is a common one, still in use today. Remember, evil is never creative.
I believe that little serpent convinced Eve, “You aren’t enough. God can’t really love you. You’re not enough like Him. You need to become like Him to really gain His love.”
And it worked. Both of them gave everything up and ate that fruit.
I believe that from the very beginning of time, the forces of darkness have been saying to man, “You are not enough!” and it continues to this very day.
If you don’t believe me, just watch TV. You don’t have to watch long to get involved in the myriad of commercials and shows that communicate things like, “You’re not wealthy enough; you’re not thin enough; not attractive enough; your kids not happy enough without more stuff; you’re not smart enough; not religious enough; not level headed enough.” The list goes on and on.
And it works. We give up our peace in search of something to make us feel enough. We are a restless people being conned out of our lives in pursuit of a lie.
This belief system is what researcher/author Brene Brown has coined “Scarcity.” In my opinion this scarcity drives a kind of mass amnesia for people. People don’t know who they actually “are” anymore. They see only their imperfections instead of seeing the good in themselves – that they are lovable as they already are. But they are as convinced as Eve of the lie and instead see only holes everywhere in themselves. And this strikes fear into them, and they seek out the holes in others. It makes for a terribly judgmental culture.
Remember what you set your eyes on, you become. Stare at ugliness and become ugly, stare at beauty and become attractive.
This is a hard saying since negativity is our brain’s natural setting. It has a survival potential for us. The brain says, “If I see bad things, I can protect myself.” Ironically paying too much attention to the wrong things makes us feel depressed or anxious. It also darkens the mind. We become less able to connect to others and have more difficulty solving problems in our lives. Fear destroys our powers of observation and attention. Life is attention.
Therefore, there is a benefit to choosing to see the good in others. This takes courage. But that choice to see the good brightens the mind and provides clarity of thought. More creativity and ability to see opportunities to grow. We are better able to connect and this allows for greater intimacy in our relationships.
Whenever people forget who they are (that they really are good enough), they become who they aren’t. As the old saying goes, “Truly happy people don’t hurt other people.” Remember that next time someone hurts you, shames you, or breaks your heart.
Making things better is always a choice. To tear down our own facades, and remember who we are, we need to see the good in others. That’s not all though, we need to communicate it to them. Good things, that aren’t talked about, go unnoticed. It’s like they never existed at all. When we see ourselves acting in a kind fashion, we satisfy our mind’s need for evidence that we are “good people” and believe it more.
I challenge you today to remember who you are, by first seeing the good in another. If you do, I promise it will change your day, your relationship to yourself, and those around you. Today, try to catch other people doing something right five times and tell them about it. Just notice what happens. It’s just one way we can assist in building a civilization of love and treat the amnesia we see all around us.
- Dreaming to Be a Catholic - January 19, 2017
- Apples and Amnesia: Treating the Scarcity that Plagues Us All - December 13, 2016
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