A few nights ago I was sitting in this house with a few candles lighting the place, listening to Undercover's Balance of Power. I was reminded of a time nearly 2 decades ago, when this CD first came out, when I was listening to this same music blasting through the house as the night was getting late, lying in bed with 2 of my closest friends (don't ask because I'm not telling, except to say that the friend lying next to me was a hot girl...but I digress). One of the best songs on there is called Eyes of Love, and it's been sticking in my mind since playing it again the other night. "A million questions burning from the flame that melted you, begging for the answers, continue looking through the eyes of love..."
Continue looking through the eyes of love...This is one of the hardest things to do at a time when life seems determined to beat you down until you stay down. When I feel hurt or betrayed or simply left behind and "uninvited" by those I let my guard down for, those I let into my inner circle. Or sometimes just dealing with idiots in life. Idiots who often have the upper-hand, who are holding all the cards, who are in charge of things by what must surely be divine mismanagement. My first reaction to this sort of thing is anger. And bitterness (despite Paul's admonition not to let that root find soil). I ride (as Sixpence once put it) a "circle of error", in which my thoughts continue to circle back to the pain or percieved injustice I feel, trying somehow to articulate it or make sense of it. Begging for the answers, to the question "why?" or "how could this happen?". Or maybe just wanting things to be different. Wanting this to "shall pass" already. Not sure if the future holds anything better though. And then just when I needed to hear it, the lyrics to yet another profound Undercover song get stuck in my head and start to work on my heart and soul... "Continue looking through the Eyes of Love..."
It seems almost impossible to do sometimes, this admonition of Christ's to return good for evil, to pray for one's enemies, to love and pray for those who persecute you. Heck, just to love others period is a thought more than I can seem to manage at times. Trying to imagine what this looks like through the eyes of love. Trying to hold on to what Miroslav Volf calls the "Will to Embrace". But if I can somehow remove my thoughts from the mire they are in and look at the situation objectively, somehow look AT myself from OUTSIDE of myself, see what I look like in these circumstances, I have to ask myself, "what kind of person do I want to be?". Do I want to be a bitter angry man, kicking anything in my path and warning others with my whole way of being not to get too close? Are the knocks life doles out a legitimate reason to be this way, no matter how deep or hard or painful? The bitterness and rage become a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy after a time, inviting nothing but the same into one's life, a "circle of error". "Become like what you want to attract" as the saying goes.
There is, of course, a balance to be found here. One can't go around pretending to be happy while ignoring the pain one is experiencing. But, if one can find it, there is a peace and joy that goes deeper than any outward circumstance can affect...If you can find it. For me, reading Buddhist writers like Thich Nhat Hanh or Pema Chodron helps, or Christians like Henri Nouwen or Mother Teresa. People who have known the pain and trials of living while at the same time leading lives of deep love for others and for God. I see that it is possible, But as U2 once sang, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for".