Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If You Want to Be Loved and Understood By Others

My mother is a saintly woman in many ways, but she also has a rare form of schizophrenia. If she gets overwhelmed, her mind won't shut down and she has a nervous breakdown. I'd love to be able to have deep, nuanced discussions with her, but they would get her mind spinning so fast it would be extremely detrimental to her well-being. I understand that, so I keep our Gospel conversations simple and faith-promoting.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with her intellectually. She was a straight A student in school and a top-notch legal secretary before her disability surfaced. She just can't handle things that would "rock her reality", and she can't multi-task, and she can't worry about things. Her life needs to be lived on an even keel - and what my father has done to protect her leaves me in awe. [If you are interested, you can read my tribute to him here: My Niece Died This Morning.]

It might be easier for me to realize, since my mother's situation is a medically diagnosed condition, but the concept is the exact same for all: If someone can't get what you believe, and if it causes intense pain to try to make them understand, stop! Don't inflict that pain on them. Quit being selfish and be selfless. Put their emotional and spiritual well-being ahead of your own.

I learned that lesson vicariously from my father, and it is profound and life-altering. Frankly, it's probably the most important advice I can give on the topic of understanding and love and acceptance. If you want to be loved for who you are, love others for who they are - truly and sincerely, without expectation of reciprocation. Treat them truly as you would want to be treated. After all, "We love Him, because he first loved us." (I John 4:19)

No comments: