Successful Sacrifice

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  
Braving The Wilderness, p. 45

 

 

Yesterday I talked about ‘recognizing” as a spiritual practice and used the example of my marriage.  This has not been easy. Reciprocity is a ton harder than contracts and negotiated settlements. It requires conflict and candor and sacrifice.  But it is a function of success on a spiritual scale. And it can result in a ton of #2. CELEBRATING. Over time we improved our communication, conflict resolution, and perspective on “winning as one.”  Mostly competition has slipped away - except when we play board games. This is requiring continued deep spiritual practice and we are not there yet!!

 

But not a day goes by that we do not  find opportunity to celebrate our connection - with each other, with our children, our grandchildren, our extended family and our community.  I think our marriage helped us learn how to apply these principles in other relationships (some are much harder to figure out than others).

 

A few years ago I began to notice how one of my parents began to praise unceasingly one of my brothers and either implicitly or explicitly compare with a critical eye the rest of us to him.  This was not new behavior, but it was a shift in the “who” and it came at a time when we were under duress dealing with my mom’s dementia. Living with the “when you win I win” philosophy, I was able to “see” this situation with a bit more clarity than if I had been still in that old mode of competing for love and attention.

 

It was still annoying.  For most of my life I called my mom multiple times a day.  Every time I got in the car I would call and chat with her.  I know - excessive. Back in the day when we paid for long distance service Pete used to beg me to “cut back” - I never did.  I wanted to talk to my mom and she never lived nearby. Can I tell you how annoying it was when the story in the family became the glowing reports that my brother called every day on his way home from work and the rest of us damn kids never bothered to call or visit?  It was aggravating on the surface of things. But underneath and around and above the chitter chatter and clamor was this one true thing - we were all winning. My mom was getting human contact. We didn’t need to compete for credit. And what a valuable truth that was because I was not going to get an ounce of credit.  Since credit didn’t matter, it did not impact my behavior. I still called; I still visited; I was free to think and plan and do what I believed was the most loving way for me to act on my love for my mom. My marriage taught me this. Brene is explaining why it works. Even though it comes with petty annoyances at times.  How can you find big wins in your sometimes challenging relationships? Where can you celebrate?