Yesterday, my friend Hannah kept saying, “I hate people.” She didn’t mean that exactly – she’s one of the kindest, most friendly people I know, and she has a vast array of people she truly loves – but I could relate. Sometimes I really hate people, too.
I share Hannah’s lament, not because I really hate people but because people often disappoint. That’s our nature. We’re just not perfect, so we hurt one another. Often.
Sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just be a recluse. Perhaps this is why Thomas Merton‘s writings on solitude really resonate with me. But I probably wouldn’t be as healthy as Merton; Ted Kazinski comes to mind . . .
So I continue on and try to stay positive in the midst of disappointment. I try to remember that everyone is wounded and that many people do not work to heal those wounds and, thus, carry them and sometimes inflict them on others, not out of spite but out of pain. I try to remember that I am not the center of the universe and, thus, the actions of other people are almost never about me. And when they are about me, I try to own my culpability and apologize as necessary. I try to remember how God sees people – how our broken, scarred, cracked selves are so loved and so beautiful to him – and then I try to love as he loves. I fail. Often.
Some days, when people are more disappointing than others or I’m weaker than I normally am (today is one of those days), I really want to just pull back, stay at my desk, and write. . . that’s a real perk of this job: it requires me to be alone a lot.
So the farm, that’s going to be my hermitage. I hope people will come and visit, and we’ll do house concerts and big pot luck dinners. Kids will stop by and pet the animals. Friends will stop in to talk on the porch. I will love all of those things.
But most days, well, most days, I’m going to revel in the people-less time. Writing my words. Gathering my strength so that I can love even in the face of our human brokenness.
How do you bolster yourself in the face of the disappointment that other people often bring? How do you continue to find the path of love?
Thomas Merton’s Prayer seems fitting here:
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.