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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

Meek: having or showing a quiet and gentle nature; not wanting to fight or argue with other people; enduring injury with patience and without resentment.

Timid: Showing a lack of courage or confidence; easily frightened.

            When you see the two definitions together it is easy to see the difference between them, but often people in our society take meekness for timidity. It took me 40 years to learn the difference. I never liked confrontation. It was my goal to never rock the boat. I had many fears associated with confrontation such as people not liking me if I argued with them, losing the argument and looking stupid, getting my feelings hurt or my butt kicked. I was timid. When you live like that you end up with pent up frustrations inside that you want to let out. You end up letting it out on your family because you are safe with them. You know they will be angry for a while, but they will still love you.
            So what did Jesus mean when he said, in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth, and in Matthew 5:39 when he tells us to turn the other cheek? If you are not supposed to fight or resent when someone harms you; if you are supposed to remain gentle and quiet, how will you ever achieve anything? How will you ever get what is rightfully yours?
            To answer these questions I had to begin to understand the difference between my human nature (the ego) and the part of me where God lives. I actually had to learn about the two different spaces within me because I never considered that there might be more than one space. There is a part of me that judges everything, that has likes and dislikes, that wants, that has emotions, and that reacts to events and people around me. Then there is the part that shows a quiet and gentle nature, truly not wanting to fight or argue because that part understands there is nothing worth fighting over. This is the part that endures injury with patience and without resentment because it knows the madness of our delusion. Yeah, that is the God part. That is the part I did not know was there.
            Of course, I had heard there was God inside of me and all around me, but all the judging, wanting, emoting and reacting kept that part hidden. That part is so unbelievably gentle that it does not even try to get your attention. It waits patiently to be noticed. Sometimes an entire life is lived without it ever being noticed. It waits for us and our human part to screw things up so bad that there is nothing left to do, but give in, stop fighting, stop judging, stop wanting, stop stifling the emotions and stop reacting and just let things be. That is when it surfaces and comforts you in a blanket of peace. That part whispers, “I am here. You are okay. You don’t have to fight your life.” 

          Being timid, allowing people to walk all over you, is not what Jesus wants you to do. He wants you to be flexible. He wants you to be non-reactive, gentle and non-resentful, but not because you stifle your feelings. He wants you to feel them all, acknowledge their presence and let them flow through you. You can be assertive and strong when necessary and you can go with the flow of your life by being meek. The Buddhists refer to this as being like water. Water can be extremely powerful and at the same time it is never anything but flexible. It flows around everything in its path even as it rages with enough force to move houses. It is strong enough to uproot trees but so flexible you can’t hold it with your hands. It is as gentle and as powerful as Jesus. 

          How do we be like water? The trick is to acknowledge facts without adding judgment to them. Water, when faced with an obstacle, flows around it and over it. When necessary, it moves the object along in its current, but it does not judge one object from another. It will flow into and around a house or it will move the house in the same way it will flow around or move a tree. It will sweep up people, animals and rocks just the same. It does not do this in anger or judgment as it has no emotion. As humans, we must learn to feel our emotions, acknowledging and accepting them without judgment or reaction. Do not narrate a story in your mind. Simply feel. When you can simply feel, answers come, ideas come and loving action becomes possible. Water never waivers in its flexibility no matter how powerfully it is flowing. We can bend our position just enough to see the other person’s point of view and to give them some of what they want while standing firm on what is truly important to us. We can avoid getting emotional by focusing on the facts at hand and by not being too attached to the outcome. That is true power and true flexibility. Have you ever witnessed two people arguing when one is very emotional and the other one is calm, cool and collected? Think about which one is more powerful in that situation.

            As for resentment, that is simply hanging onto a complaint that will never change. What good does it do? It is rigid and it gains nothing for anyone. It hurts you and no one else. When we take a close look at what we argue about and resent, it is most often trivial things that do not matter in the scheme of our lives. In reality, there is very little that truly matters. When you are reactive and inflexible you are stuck in an illusion that your mind created. Here is a clear example…  
            I was very angry and resentful towards some of my neighbors several years ago. My husband and I had an opportunity to sell our house to a corporation for twice its residential market value. Some of our neighbors put a stop to the sale and I was livid, thinking about what we had lost. In reality, we had not lost anything because there was nothing given to us, other than a contract promising to buy our house for an extraordinary asking price if certain conditions were met. After the deal was squashed, it felt like we had won a million dollars in Vegas and misplaced the bag of money on the way home. I blamed my neighbors and our city officials. My mind was going crazy thinking of all the things we could have done with that money and judging my neighbors for not caring about what that sale would have meant for our family. In my mind, I called them every name in the book. I thought of all the nasty things I could say to them. I thought of all the reasons why they should not have done what they did. My mind kept reliving the city meeting we went to where the neighbors who were against it stood up and told the city council their arguments. Sitting there listening to them I knew I should stand up and tell our side of the story; to give the city council an alternative to consider. Some of their arguments were valid, but others were hysterical; not funny, beyond reason. Without another voice to counter and to bring in an air of reason all of their arguments went unchecked and just hung there like a cloud.

            I was feeling meek, but I was also feeling timid. I knew exactly what to say and how to say it in a non-confrontational way, although I was attached to the outcome. I wanted it really bad! However, I did not want to be the center of attention. I did not want to go against the advice of others who said we should remain silent, for fear of making them angry and blaming me if it fell through. But most of all, I was afraid of public speaking. I sat there and watched my dream die without saying a word. Every fiber of my being was shouting at me to stand up and walk to the microphone. I recently (seven years too late) heard Rev. Ed Bacon say that if you are in a meeting and your stomach has butterflies that it's God telling you it is you who should be speaking. I sat there with my butterflies.

          After it all fell through I was consumed with a sense of loss, anger and resentfulness. My mind would not stop thinking about it all. Then the phone rang. It was an emergency recording from Joshua’s school. They were in lockdown because of a threat. I tried to call the school, but could not get through. I turned on the TV to see if there was some news. I learned that someone had threatened a student and may have entered the school with a weapon; the school where my precious Joshua was. I can tell you, NOTHING on this earth mattered more to me at that moment than his safety. I got perspective immediately. I felt like an idiot for being so upset about the sale not taking place. I realized how insignificant money is. I would have given this house away and everything else I own to keep my son from being harmed. It happened instantly. Not when I knew he was safe, but as soon as got the call I realized I had not lost anything and I might be about to lose what was truly important, my inheritance.
            Looking back, there were so many things in the course of my life I fought against and this rigidity caused my blessings to be hidden from my view. I felt loss at every twist and turn. Things were not the way I wanted them to be and that was my focus. I thought things were being taken from me, but I was pushing them aside as if they were garbage, not worthy of my attention. There were times I raged at people in my life when things did not go my way. I thought I was showing strength through my anger and by taking a stand. It never got me what I wanted. All it did was cause me to be blind to what I already had and to damage relationships. As I said earlier, your family will still love you, but that does not mean the relationship stays the same. Throughout my life, as long as I wanted something that was not to be, I suffered. Throughout those meetings with the city council, remaining timid, refusing to stand up for what I wanted, it could not come to be. I did not have to stand up like a raving lunatic, but I did need to stand up and state my case, in meekness, setting the emotion aside and without drama. Just the facts, Ma’am; stick to the facts. If I am not willing to do that much, why should the universe reward me? What happened hurt, but I caused my own suffering, not my neighbors and not the city officials.

            To find your strength while remaining meek, you go to that silent God space within. You let that silence whisper its message to you. You receive its instruction, learning how to proceed with flexibility. Clarity comes to your awareness, giving you the perfect words, focusing on the facts with reason and accepting any outcome without judgment, understanding that you already have your inheritance. Your aim is not to provoke, but to provide a solution, or at least, an acceptance for your position. Win or lose you know you did your best, you said the right things in a loving way. Who could fault you for that? When you behave this way you flow through your life like water. 

            This incident at Joshua’s school was my eye opener. It was God’s grace showing me my true treasure and asking, “Hey, What are you whining about? You want to see real loss?” 
           Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say I was completely over my perceived loss. Our personalities have a way of casting the same old shadows over our God space and eventually some of the negative feelings showed up again. To this day, I can still feel a twinge. They are less intense, thankfully. I can honestly tell you that anytime I start to feel that ‘loss’ again, all I have to do is think of the phone call and it snaps me right back to reality. There were so many lessons for me to learn in those events, one of which is listening to your gut – your intuition. I will leave that for another day.
            I hope this helps you with a struggle you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

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