I’m a moderator on a Pagan/Wiccan (yes, I realize those two are not synonymous, but for the sake of convenience, I’m using them that way) forum where I have been a member for 3 yrs now. This forum welcomes people of all paths, a wide span of ages, and a whole spectrum of developmental levels when it comes to spirituality and personal evolution. During my tenure as member there, I’ve seen some interesting people come and go. I’ve made some of the best friends that I have, even though I’ve never met some of them in real life, and I’ve run into some people that make my blood boil.
Recent circumstances lead me to question my own growth, where I am in my personal evolution, and consequently, I decided to pursue a theta healing session over the phone with one of those good friends I referenced above. During this session, my friend brought to my attention a significant number of beliefs I held regarding my self, my life, love, spirituality, etc. I realized that those unhealthy beliefs were blocking my potential for growth. When we finished the session, it was as though a massive road block on my path had been taken down with a recking ball and the path was clear for me to continue. In addition to those experiences, one of the books I’m reading now is entitled Pagan Spirituality, and it focuses on growth and development. All of these things, in causing me to monitor my own growth more steadfastly, have lead me to discover that I’m noticing more frequently where others are as well in their personal evolutions.
So when a situation arose on the forums where one member was illustrating through her experiences where she was developmentally, and it was frustrating to a number of us who are not in that space anymore, the replies she received to her post were of the tough love variety. In the past, I’ve been an advocate of tough love to the exc lusion of all else. I still am an advocate of it, as I definitely think it has its place and, for some people, it’s a great way to reach them and to help them. But for others, it can have the exact opposite effect and end up setting them back further. The poster in question had responded to a peer in real life with tough love and had gotten nowhere. And those members who responded to her on the forums with tough love were also getting nowhere. Some of the responders were annoyed by what was perceived as hypocrisy in this young woman’s behavior or were frustrated, I imagine, with the fact that what they were saying seemed to bounce off without really getting in. And I realized that the avenue we were advocating to her to embrace was not the one we were embracing in communicating with her. We were in the same position as she, bitching about someone who we found annoying and less advanced developmentally.
One of the things that my youth group leader had said again and again (back when I was active in the church) was that you have to meet people where they are. While I no longer consider myself a Christian, I think this is a really powerful and meaningful attitude to have. How could I reach this young woman where she was and help her to grow by showing her a larger perspective? I began to think of what the response would look like if I reached out to her in the same way we were advocating to her to reach out to her peer. In the end, I formulated a response with which I hope she will connect.
One of my favorite books is Strands of Starlight by Gael Baudino. It’s a fantasy fiction book set back in the 14th century complete with elves. One of the major growth markers that the main character reaches is when she identifies that, as elves, they exist to provide strength, aid, and comfort. Personally, I don’t think that should be limited to fictional characters in books. I’ve learned in the past few years that’s one of the reasons I exist – a pursuit I am to continue in this life and the ones to come: providing strength, aid, and comfort to those I encounter. And some of those people are a lot harder to aid than others.
I believe in building people up. If we let our anger and frustation get the better of us, we set ourselves back developmentally as well. A lot of the means of aid we could give to others requires us to grow beyond ourselves. And it is our choice to grow beyond ourselves and become more accurate reflections of the Divine or to stay where we are. I commit to never stop growing.