Friday, July 29, 2005

Summer camp memories, Part II

I wrote yesterday about learning to love at camp, and that it taught me how to handle mean kids when I got back to school. I left something out, though, that is probably salient.

Loving people when they’re mean includes more than just saying inside, “Oh, I love them anyway.” What I learned at camp through the application of Christian Science is that everyone is a child of God, no matter what. No one is excluded from that, even the mean kids. So what’s required in loving them is to see beyond their actions to the child of God that is there.

This was the key to my being able to love in the face of meanness. And it made sense to me. My counselors explained that I am the child of God, which I was happy to hear and willing to accept. But then they made it clear that this applied to everyone. This was a bit harder! I realized though that if I wanted to accept it for myself, I had to accept it for everyone.

Likewise, if you’re the kind of person who finds it easy to accept that other people are children of God but you have doubts about yourself, the same logic applies. God, divine Love, is the Creator, and all creation is sourced in Love. You can take credit for being sourced in Love.

So in those moments when meanness appeared, I took the initiative to disbelieve it as not part of the person before me. I had the power to not take in what the other kids did, even if they themselves thought of themselves as mean. Even as a grade-schooler, I had the authority to see through that false image and know all that was there was another child of God.

This foundational insight enabled me to love. Not the mean kid, but the child of God mistakenly acting like a mean kid. I started to employ the tactic of looking for the good in everyone. Even thought it wasn’t always directed at me, I could see that every kid had good qualities. And to me, this meant that they were connected to their Creator, Love. I gave them credit for being a child of God.

Again, I won’t say that this changed every mean kid into a nice kid. But it empowered me and made me realize my thought governs my experience. This, of course, has served me well over the years in many situations where people’s personalities got the better of them. I had the skill of seeing through it, of empathizing and understanding, and of giving them credit even beyond what they thought of themselves. Sometimes I would voice this, but more often it was my actions toward them that communicated what I thought. And, as an adult, I did see some transformation happen through this process.

Powerful lessons. Sometimes challenging to implement, always rewarding.


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1 Comments:

At 8/05/2005 02:12:00 AM, Blogger karen gsteiger said...

I've been contemplating the "mean" kids lately...since my (yikes!) 10-year high school reunion is coming up. What *am* I going to say when confronted by one or more of my old high school bullies? On the other hand, there were a lot of people who were lower on the totem pole than I (not many, though) whom I didn't befriend because I was too scared of attracting further negative attention. That's probably what I regret most...not being kind out of fear of what other people think.

I guess I'm more inclined to laugh it all off now, but I do remember how painful it all was.

Hopefully, the mean kids have evolved into nicer kids over the years...and hopefully I have too!

Take care,
Karen

 

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