Give yourself a break when the inner voices become too much to handle. Joe Rutland talks about the power of redemption, forgiveness and grace.
Quiet please! There’s a committee meeting going on in my head right now.
“Do you know how much you have let people down with your reckless behavior?” Critic No. 1 says.
“Yes I do,” I respond.
“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” Critic No. 2 says.
“I’m doing my best to right my wrongs.”
“You are unlovable, not worth the blood that flows through your veins,” Critic No. 3 says.
“No, you are wrong,” I fight back. “I am worthy of love and all the blood that flows through my head, heart, and soul. All of you critics want to drive me into the ground at 50 years old. Well, it’s not going to happen. Thank you. This committee meeting is over.”
Just then, a leering Critic No. 4 peers down with glasses on the bridge of its nose.
“We know all of your thoughts, sir, and those words and actions that you have done in secret,” it says. “You can fight back, yet you will never be able to overcome those at all.”
“Don’t I get a chance at redemption?” I ask.
“Everyone does. How many chances at redemption do you want?”
“An infinite number.”
“Is this your wish?”
“It’s my want.”
I turn away, start walking and snap my fingers Bobby Darin-style, of course.
Redemption is a powerful force in life that can have repercussions for a long time. Forgiveness also matters, too.
Many religious and spiritual types have a word for this, and it’s called grace.
I feel like grace is a warm cup of coffee or a cold glass of water that washes away the dirt, grime and ugliness within all of us. Admittedly, if I focused all of my attention upon history that seems to keep repeating itself over and over again then I’d believe that grace was some stupid idea.
I would believe that it was just made up by people, a sort-of cosmic “Get Out Of Jail Free” card that only is for some and not others. In that case, grace would only be for the “good people” in the world. It would be for those who have amassed great wealth, power and authority. Thankfully, that is not the sum total of grace’s definition.
It certainly is amazing (far beyond the ancient hymn “Amazing Grace,” too). It is wonderful. It is spectacular. I’ve read a lot about grace and its healing effects in many lives, from helping a chronic drug and alcohol abuser heal to a man or woman stop returning to prison over and over again.
There have been too many times where I have been my own judge, jury and executioner. I’ve shot myself in the heart (metaphorically speaking) too many times to count.
What a pity. Life is too short for that type of behavior not only from me but others.
Alas, though, grace gets tossed out the back door when egos and arrogance come alive. By the way, it does not matter what political, religious or none-of-the-above label you wear. Egos and arrogance bleed through all of it. If you believe differently, then that is your right and I will not take that away from you.
Who am I to play the Almighty? Not me.
One person offered up this bit of wisdom some years ago. If I put my hand in front of my nose, keep it there and look at it, then I would be able to see what I really have control over in my life – just what is in front of me. What about the rest of other people, events and situations? I have no control over them.
Now I can do something to help others, yet I cannot control their actions 100 percent of the time.
Drama Man inside me sure wants to stir that pot and get me some good drama cooking.
When it comes to forgiveness, then I’m damn quick to offer others this grace-filled fragrance. Me? Oh no. Let me just give myself another internal beating and let those “critics” run amok inside.
I see and hear about so many things taking place and think that healing, love, compassion and empathy are not around.
Then I read about friends of mine helping to raise awareness about homelessness. I see others stand up for people who have no one speaking out for them. There are those who give of their time toward beautifying this planet. Hell, I even take a breath and remind myself that I speak up as an advocate about the emotional well-being of children, adults and parents within the cleft, craniofacial and facial difference community around the world.
Maybe creating an International Redemption Day would help all of us take a step back, view life through a different pair of glasses, and treat people with the love and respect they deserve.
It starts, though, with the person looking right into their own hand that is beyond their nose.
Redemption and grace are worth spending time thinking about this day, week or year. Beyond that, taking action matters too. I can only hope to be more forgiving and loving toward myself and others each day.
Damn the critics. Let’s all prove ours wrong, and don’t read our headlines too closely. Life is happening in this moment, so give redemption and grace a chance.
Photo: Getty Images