‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rise Above The Storm

(Title credit to Marge!)

There is a deep peace that comes with knowing who you are. Don't let the world shake you. If you hold yourself accountable to your own integrity and truth, then nothing that another could say or think can really harm you. We live on this planet with billions of other souls where the chance for conflict, misunderstanding, and misalignment is phenomenally huge. Monumentally, outrageously huge. You are not being singled out by God for punishment when these things happen, you are simply experiencing life as we know it on this planet full of struggling, complicated and often very confused human beings. It's not always your job to set people straight if they misunderstand you or are angry with you. Sometimes you just need to trust that 'the truth will out,' even if that 'out' won't happen in your lifetime.

Why am I saying this? Because I experienced a catastrophic misunderstanding this month. It was so out of proportion that it started looking to me like the people involved might possibly be dealing with mental illness. It was like a loosed wild animal. The whole experience was stunning in its' ferocity. I literally remained speechless for a number of days while I tried to wrap my head around the experience. In the end, I couldn't. It simply was something out of my control and I had to step away.

The crux of the matter involved someone accusing me of lying and intentionally hurting a group of people, and yet when I offered physical proof that this was not the case, the person continued, and still continues, to misalign me, gossip about me and generally act like a junior high school bully. It's so far beyond my ability to comprehend it, that I nearly wrote this person to offer to meet her in person so she could exorcise her anger face to face and, maybe, resolve whatever is going on in her head. Friends smartly advised against this. Why engage a spitting cat? It won't work. When people are angry, they cannot hear. And when people are so entrenched in their own version of the truth, wild horses couldn't pull them in the other direction. They are stuck in their belief, and there they'll stay.

The whole experience has been a deeply painful but powerful lesson, however. It came on the heels of my finally setting some important boundaries in my life. Although it honestly took a health scare to shock me into setting such limits, it was inevitable. My life could no longer run the way it was if I planned on staying in human form for much longer. Sorry to be cryptic -- I'll tell a more detailed account of this when the adoption is complete! For now, you all know the drill -- pre-adoptive parents (like me) are forced to keep a tight lid on everything but the mundane. Apologies for that.

Anyway, back to the lesson: I've always had a very hard time dealing with any anger directed my way. It's common for anyone who had a childhood that involved an active alcoholic. Anger brings out the fight or flight response. I think I've spent more energy in my life keeping others happy than I have in attaining any other measurable goal. It was my life's work -- and I was good at it.

But there comes a point when you either decide it's time to take care of yourself or, as in my case, a time when your health or life circumstances demand it. And when you finally do what you should have done decades earlier, well, people don't like it so much. You've changed. People like the OLD you. They have no use for this NEW you. And then the world around you shifts, because people are rebelling against this change you have made. Ah well, you must just breathe and keep your eye on the prize. Because in the end, of course, there is no one you can change but yourself.

In the past week, fate has brought several people to my door who are struggling with similar things. It's been such a gift to share my journey with them and help them to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that nothing matters so much as Love. But Love takes many forms, and sometimes the most loving thing you can do is take care of yourself and trust that others will be taken care of without your meddling. Sometimes love involves letting go, as we've all heard so many times. Sometimes love involves keeping silent when others rage and rant about you, or accuse you falsely or send you hate mail. Yes, silence can often be the most loving response of all.

Buddha said to love, forgive and let go of that which you cannot change. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. The Dalai Lama was recently asked how he handled hatred and anger directed at him, and he explained that patience and compassion are the only helpful responses. He also reminds his listeners of the intimate connection between compassion and humility, when dealing with hatred: 'Humility involves having the capacity to retaliate, yet deliberately deciding not to do so.'

We must do our best, strive to our highest selves, even when we are dealing with the worst in others -- especially when dealing with the worst in others. We, each one of us, is on an arduous journey and we can have no real knowledge of how difficult that journey is for another at any given time. We do right by ourselves most when we rise above the storm and keep calm. We do right by God when we choose humility and patience over fear or retaliation. We do right by others when we do right by ourselves and God. Here's to all those brave human warriors out there, courageously choosing humility over hate and calm acceptance over fear. It will pay off, my brave friends. It always does.


  1. Did you write this just for me? Thank you! I know you don't know that I was lambasted by two different relatives this weekend. I needed to hear your words. Humility, patience, rise above the storm, keep calm.....I will choose love above retaliation. Thank you and God bless.........

  2. Anonymous3:39 PM

    You said it! I have had so much hatred and anomosity from my deeply religious homeschool neighbors- right down to their 2 year old. It certainly had something to do with boundaries for sure, but also just ignorant anger on their part. i was definately too vulnerable and to trusting. God bless you as you establish right strategy on this issue

  3. Anonymous8:37 PM

    Thank you for this post... Within the last month I have been slighted by 2 relatives. (Although it seems not anywhere NEAR what you have been going through...) First I was deliberately NOT invited to my goddaughter's confirmation due to a "disagreement" between my husband and by goddaughter's step dad over a year ago. Second it appears our family will not be invited to my dear nephew's high school graduation in a few weeks (he lives several states away but we had planned on attending...) My SIL and I had a disagreement over a year ago concerning my daughters attachement issues and my need to limit/change her activities if/when she feels unsafe... For years I've shared with this SIL some of our struggles and thought she understood... Over the last year I have come to realize she just doesn't want to be bothered with us... THANK YOU for reminding me that I need to rise above this and continue to LOVE... Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Debby_in_MA

  4. Heart4Russia8:50 PM

    So very glad you wrote this post -- it was divine intervention for me. I've been dealing with a relative who has falsely accused me of doing something underhanded and he has gotten other family members in on his gossip, and I have felt so lost, alone and unable to cope. I tried explaining the truth to him, I tried anger, I tried straightening things out with the other family members - nothing worked. I was so hurt. I felt like ending my life over it, if I'm honest. Remembering that this is not punishment is helpful, and remembering that I can rise above it is the best advice I've gotten so far. I'm always amazed at how you take your pain and are able to step back and look at the bigger picture. That's hard-earned wisdom. I"m sure you dont feel wise, but your words are so helpful every time you post. So glad you shared.

  5. Gosh, I'm sorry you had to go through that. It is just the sort of thing that would make me crazed. Although I grew up with the most loving of parents, I also developed a great desire to please. (It has occurred to me that theatre fed that need, to be constantly reassured.) Now, oddly, the compliments and gratitude of others don'e mean anything to me unless I'm happy MYSELF with my performance. So I have to please the other AND myself.

    Well, we all think you are wonderful, and at least you KNEW you were innocent, and it was a misunderstanding. I hope there is a healing, somehow.

  6. If you're awesome and you know it say Amen! Go ahead Keri, SAY IT! :)

  7. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Keri-- This might sound very strange, but my mom and I were talking the other day about Anya and she mentioned something... I know you said you have "turned over every stone" to get her here, but I still thought I would mention what my mom said... Have you thought about finding an American man that would marry her, to get her over here? Lol!! It could work! Just a thought.. lol

    1. Alysa, you are so sweet to be thinking of Anya:) Anya's story is well-known to the US Embassy, so she could never come here on any visa without extreme scrutiny. Anya and I would also feel very uncomfortable with that option because it is illegal ( unless, of course, she is in love!) But even if we were ok with it, she would have almost zero chance of getting thru the visa interview. When she went there in 2010 they would not even interview here or look at her documents. SHe was told point blank that her orphan status precluded her from ever coming to the US to visit. The only legal way for her to come is for Nastia to sponsor her to immigrate here, but Nastia must be 21 years old to do it, and the whole process often takes 6-7 years. But we will start that process the day Nastia turns 21!!!

  8. Your awesome Keri! Hang in there. Hope in time things get better.

  9. One of my favorite recent quotes is from Max Lucado..."Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and ...realizing you were the prisoner.

    I also had a "junior high" moment at my new teaching job. I didn't enjoy junior high the first time around and am not going to go through it again. I just have to remind myself that that person must be in a huge amount of pain to send it out to others.

  10. Keri, I reread your post, just because I miss you. :)
    Something in it resonated with me this time. Many years ago, I went through a VERY DEEP trial that hurt so badly, I didn't think I would ever get over it. It too involved gossip and some family. I had told the absolute truth and was accused of a lie. That is so unsettling and painful.
    I have thought about that situation on more than one occasion, and wondered, "Should I have done anything differently?" The answer was Yes, and No.
    What I should have done differently was been more assertive and not stood for the gossip. What I would have kept the same, was lovingly saying, I cannot be a part of this type of behavior.
    I walked away very wounded, but intact with the Lord and with my integrity. I have no regrets. :)

    How are YOU doing????

  11. Anonymous10:13 AM

    I know this post is here for some time now and I've already read it, but reading it today is exactly what I needed be reminded of. Thank you for writing this.

    1. I'm so glad it was there when you needed it. I've had that same experience with so many things others have written. It's never a coincidence, in my mind. It's Love, with a capital L, reaching towards us in our pain:)

  12. Anonymous1:42 PM

    This is so incredibly honest and well-written. You and I both know someone who could really benefit from reading this right now. You should repost on your FB so she will see it. love you, S.K.

  13. I can certainly understand this - from personal experience. I also grew up with an active alcoholic. I still remember tip-toeing around the house on weekends hoping not to set things off.


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