Right action

“Why did you do X, despite the risks?” a new friend asked me the other day.

I thought about the question a bit because I didn’t want to be glib, or dishonest in the pursuit of false modesty. 

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the reason was simple - so simple it was almost embarrassing, because it required neither complex thought nor complex emotion for such a risky venture.

“It was the right thing to do,” I replied. “And I had the capacity to do it. That’s all. That’s it.”

It’s not more complicated than that, many of the decisions I make in my evolving life.

If it’s the right thing to do, and I have the capacity to do it – I do it.

It’s one of the greatest gifts I have given myself.

High standards

There are people who worry that if they treated themselves with compassion and mercy, it will somehow stop them from holding themselves to high standards or holding themselves accountable.

But that makes no sense.

You can both hold yourself to a high standard and acknowledge that almost none of us can live up to those high standards every day.

We can acknowledge our divinity and our frailty at the same time, and plan for both. The capacity to hold a person - or yourself - to account can co-exist with the capacity to empathise when a person falls short of their, or our, standards.

Even courts of law understand justice and equity.

And so, for the sake of your own humanity, should you.

Self judgement is easy

To judge yourself? To think you’re lazy, narcissistic, entitled, sinful, flawed, selfish, whatever? That’s easy. A lot of people do it. It takes no effort, no creativity and no imagination.

To love yourself though? To accept yourself as you are, on the way to getting better – your frailty, your weaknesses, your doubts and fears, your mistakes and missteps? That’s the one that a lot of people don’t know how to do. We don’t see a lot of role models for that. We don’t learn enough about how to do that.

I am not talking of ego – thinking you are better than anyone else. I am talking of acceptance – knowing that you deserve to be here, whoever you are, however you are, without comparison to anyone else.

Judgement of self and others is easy, and because it is so easy, so many people do it, and so many people are unhappy. 

Acceptance of self and others so you can help yourself and them get better with empathy and support? That ones doesn’t come easily, and so only a few of those do it.

Help us. Become a model of self-love that we can learn from.

How to judge yourself

You will judge yourself as harshly as you judge other people. And to judge yourself without compassion, mercy and self-forgiveness is to condemn yourself to a life of misery, pain and self-flagellation.

Treat others with mercy, with kindness, and with empathy - you set a standard for which you will treat yourself when your own mistakes come, when you fall short of your own standards, when you detect inconsistencies in your own life between what you profess and what you do.

That’s what the bible’s Jesus was talking about in the first epistle:

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

He wasn’t setting a law (he wasn’t into that kind of thing). He was speaking about a posture. A way to live life with grace and wisdom. And thus, peace.

You’re human. You’ll make mistakes. The way you treat others who do is the way you’ll treat yourself when you do. 

And without mercy, your life will be one of misery.

Ye of little faith

Sometimes people of faith ask me: how do I both believe that a thing will be done by God e.g. a miracle when I am sick, and yet do what I need to do e.g. take drugs?

For the answer, we may one to turn to someone of questionable faith, the writer Scott Fitzgerald:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

It’s actually easier to do than you might think.

To believe that God heals is to believe that God can do whatever God chooses to do at any time. That’s God’s business. Your business is to do what is yours to do at any given time.

If you believe in a God that heals, surely that God can heal you on the way to a hospital, in front of the hospital and even after the doctor is done with her business.

Do what is yours to do – including having faith in what you believe – and leave God to do what’s God’s to do. 

Which I believe God can yet do, with or without your faith.

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