“Accustom yourself to unreasonableness and injustice. Abide in peace in the presence of God, who sees all these evils more clearly than you do, and who permits them. Be content with doing with calmness the little which depends upon yourself, and let all else be to you as if it were not.” ~Franḉois Fénelon
This morning I write about another step towards transcendence that has been utterly transformational to me personally, this notion of accustoming myself to “unreasonableness and injustice.” To be clear, when I speak about accustoming ourselves to injustice, I do not refer to racial injustice or any of the larger societal evils about which we must be concerned in correcting. We all must work towards mitigating the inequities and injustice endemic in our culture and its systems. Instead, what Fénelon refers to here, and what I mean in reference to injustice in this piece, are the little daily slights and injustices that we face on a personal level. We jostle about among people each day, and others misunderstand us, injure us, compete with us, and gossip about us. People make false assumptions about us, underestimate us, consider themselves superior or place us on pedestals, burdening us. People’s expectations are too high or too low, are ill-informed or manipulative. It often seems only right and natural that we get offended, become angry or hurt, that we put up walls or aggressively confront. However we react to these unreasonable or unjust behaviors of those around us, we feel convinced that the fault lies solely with others, and we are entitled to our unpleasant responses be they anger, hatred, gossiping, self-isolation, passive-aggressive behavior, or turning negative emotions inward with self loathing.
In none of these responses, however, lies freedom or peace. To daydream about how to get back at hurtful people or to go the step further to try to retaliate involves a reliance upon the self to fight battles for us. We react out of self will, and we determine we will figure out how to manipulate the situation into our favor. We’ll somehow realign the scales back into a balance of equity and justice through our own cleverness with words spoken to the right people, with our passive aggressive machinations, or through bad-mouthing others to turn people against those who have wronged us. One problem with this approach is that somewhere inside we know that we are fallible; we too often make mistakes, and we can very easily mess up this path to restitution and cause more problems for ourselves. In other words, this self reliant approach fosters fear. We talk a big game; we’ll set the record straight. We’ll make the offenders sorry. But inside we suspect that we’re not up to the task and, what’s more, that we’re playing with fire. We worry our efforts to even the score will backfire, and sometimes they do.
I have found that the solution is to hand over these situations to my higher power. Many interpersonal conflicts are emotionally complex and often political; it simply isn’t safe for me to try to manage them on my own. I’m not perfect. My motivations are not always above board, and even when they are, I have limited information and limited power in any given situation. My higher power, however, has all the necessary information and all the power to work things out for the best. And with my higher power in charge, I have nothing to fear. Often, it takes a while longer; it requires patience to allow my higher power to bring about justice, but it will and does happen. I have seen it miraculously occur in my life and in others’ lives. If only we will be quiet, be still, and wait, trusting in the power greater than ourselves. If we will keep doing what we know to be right, if we will “be the bigger person” for a while, right really does win out. Patience really does pay off. It sounds unglamorous and difficult, but truthfully, once you begin to hand inequity and injustice over to a power beyond yourself, you immediately feel lighter. You feel freedom. People hate to wait, but the peace you feel while you wait, with the burden of settling the score lifted from your shoulders, actually makes even the waiting period more tolerable. You let go of outcomes and simply trust. When another slight happens or another unjust scenario transpires, you hand it over, and you go about your day and your life feeling elevated, liberated. And one day, when you almost have forgotten to look for it, you notice that justice is slowly being served. Truths are coming to light. Your path is being made safe and straight. And you didn’t have to lift a finger. Your integrity, peace, and sanity are intact. A power has done for you what you could not have done for yourself, or certainly not with the seamless panache with which it has been done. And these moments serve to solidify, to crystallize this new transcendent process in your life. You never want to go back.
Are there little, daily, personal inequities, slights, and injustices getting under your skin? What have you to lose by handing them over to a power greater than yourself? We are finite and so limited, despite what our egos would have us to think. We do not see the whole picture. Will you join me today, this week, this year in handing over these troubling situations to one who can and does? In time, you’ll find that solutions materialize you never would have anticipated, and it will have happened without any effort or mental and emotional strain on your part. What have you to lose?