Dearest Readers,

How much time do you spend wishing someone you love would change? Just a little bit. Or a lot. If he/she would only do this differently or do things the way I do them. He/she would be so much better that way! Or so much better off. Wouldn’t they? According to me they would. Because I know best. I know what he/she needs to do.

For most of my life I’ve lived with this Voice of Judgment in my head. It’s been a long haul to rid myself of it and still it comes back, like an old friend (or a bad rash), trying to drive the bus of my life, trying to dictate my relationships with others.

What I know from past experience is that this particular part of me gets fired up not because I’m an unkind and judgmental person but because I am feeling unsafe or vulnerable in some way. This part of me has been my protector, my defense against intimacy, my excuse to remain an outsider, different and therefore superior.

So I usually need some self-care first. Send reassurance to this part of myself. Take gentle and kind actions. Self-love and self-forgiveness are in order. And then I need to remember that just as I am not perfect neither is anyone else. And as I walk this Healing Path and gain the kind of humility required to own and accept my humanity I start to become a part of my fellow humans rather than apart from.

A friend of mine is currently struggling with a situation and my temptation is to tell this person what to do. Because I know what’s best, see? I know the answer and this person should do what I think is right. Right? Wrong. So how do I deal with this? What do I do with the temptation to control, to judge, to dictate?

A quote by Thomas Merton, a great writer and a monk of the last century, has been my steadfast guide:

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we see in them.”

Isn’t that beautiful? And juste. I just love it. It’s been so helpful to me. Let someone be exactly who he is. Let her be herself. If I try to change him to fit me that means I’ll only love him when he becomes more like I am! Ridiculous. And so true.

This doesn’t mean that I can’t make helpful suggestions to her if she is struggling. I can offer him support and encouragement. I can provide her with experience, strength and hope. I can respond to him with compassion while pointing out alternative routes. But I cannot do any of this if my motivation is to “twist” or control or change. It’s not my job.

Inspiring Message of the Day: My job as a friend is to let my friends and loved ones be exactly who they are. I will trust that the path each person is on is exactly the right path and I will let Higher Guidance do the steering.