Yielding to other’s opinions and beliefs isn’t modeled much in social media. To the contrary, people seem to feel freer online than ever to hurl abusive slurs at one another for merely stating a difference of opinion. Maybe they get caught up in the emotion of the argument and forget there’s a real person at the other end feeling the sting of their words. Maybe the thought of yielding never comes up, or if it does it feels like surrender, or weakness, as losing. I wonder when did beliefs and opinions become more important than respect for another person? If our self-referenced perspective is all we have to go on, it’s likely we will defend it to the bitter end.
In last week’s entry we talked about things that get in our way, about getting our way, and how “to give way” means to yield. It’s worth a deeper look if we hope to truly live out the resurrection, as Rohr says. This will mean learning to step back and be honest about times when I slip back into the fear or anger of my False Self, as I often do in the middle of a conflict. Here I am, talking about conflict, again. It just seems that what’s most true about me is often revealed in my response to conflict and in difficult relationships. These are the places where I learn how little I really love. As long as I’m cloistered away or surrounded by people who are just like me, I can believe I’m a genuinely loving person. But how do I respond when my cup is tipped? Do I need to win the argument? Must I always be right, or have things my way? Is my way really best?
In the moment, I may not see it, it feels so natural to defend my position. But like holding a page too close to read, even six inches of distance can give me clarity. I can access this by stepping away, by paying attention to my breathing or by meditating. The practice of examen is helpful here as well, asking God to show me what I don’t see, or how I contributed to this difficult situation. However I reach center, I now have the opportunity to make amends and to own my feelings that got in the way. I get to forgive and to ask forgiveness, to be part of healing in even my most difficult relationships.
I was moved by those in Charleston last week who responded to hatred, racism and murder with forgiveness on their lips and in their hearts. If anyone had a right to hold onto anger and seek vengeance, they did. They know better than most of us what it is to yield to a higher power who is Love. The Christ they follow talked about turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, praying for those who persecute us, laying down our lives for others. There’s no room in this kingdom for talk of my rights or of being right, much less seeking revenge. To walk in his ways – to learn to love – is part of a lifetime of learning to let go of our need to control, of anger, of fear and learn to trust that although his ways are not our ways, we can learn them.
His Spirit within helps us live and respond out of our True Self, with a yielded heart. It seems to yield is always about giving. In yielding to another car in traffic, I give up my right to be first. In a heated discussion, I give up my right to be right. When I’ve been wronged, I give up my right to revenge. As Jesus said, he who would gain his life must lose it. It’s counter cultural, for sure, but it’s good for me to practice ways “to die before I die,” as Rohr and many of the mystics say.
One of my oldest memories is of singing this hymn in church. It’s still my prayer today:
“Have Thine own way, Lord, have thine own way. Search me and try me, Master, today.
Mold me and make me After Thy will, While I am waiting, Yielded and still.”
Today’s prayer practice: Spend a few minutes in quiet, then meditate on the Beatitudes from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 1-16. Read them again slowly and see what stands out for you. Return to silence and listen as you wait for any stirrings from his Spirit that are just for you today. Remain in his love.