I lost a lot financially when I crashed and burned years ago. I thought I had lost out on things that were important a vital to a happy and successful life. Comforts and privileges that I then thought added to the quality if my life. Most of all, I thought I was handling the comforts and privileges well when I had them.
Today, I do not have the same comforts and privileges I once did. I make less, live in a smaller home, and do not associate with the people and communities I once did.
Recent events brought me into the company of some of the people and communities of my past. But I am a different person than I was when I was in those circles. I don’t mean to create an “us and them” notion here, but the only way I can think to say it is that I am no longer one of them, and I feel different from them.
There was a time when I agonizingly resisted the loss of what I once had. I thought I was losing out and missing out. Today, I feel more like I was “spared from”.
Spared from what? Well, first off, I believe I was spared from the pride that emerged from being in a position of envy. I new people admired and envied what I had, and although I didn’t conspicuously boast, I did float out little indicators letting people know how well I was doing.
I was spared from the shallowness I once lived in thinking that it was critical to keep up an image. An image I felt I needed. Yet the projection of this image did not help me or others. It instead, hurt both them and me. It separated us.
I was spared of the self-deception of who I had become. One of the greatest compliments I have ever had was in a job offer I got years ago when I was in early recovery. Did an in-depth psychological profile test as part of the screening. When the employer reviewed it with me, he said that self-awareness was the strongest trait that the profile revealed in me. Would I have scored so high on self-awareness had I not crashed, burned, and recovered?
At the events this week that brought me back into association with the people and communities I was once affiliated with, I looked around and pondered how little I wanted to be a part of it all. Instead, I wanted to reach out and help the people who were still entrenched in the deceptions I was once lost in.
I had no envy whatsoever. The “privilege” of their lives was in fact no privilege at all. They seemed lost in their self-consumed, insulated lives, the way I once was. One man in particular sat there seemingly basking in the attention he was receiving for his accomplishments, yet having never so much as acknowledged numerous harms and wrongs he was responsible for.
One of the most blatant wrongs was one against me. It had never been acknowledged, apologized for, or amended in any way in over a decade. Yet bitterness is not what came to mind when I saw him in last night’s setting. Instead, it was gratefulness for having been spared from the oblivion and self-deception I once lived in similar to his.
Life and loss forced me to wake up. They forced me to be the kind of person who looks at himself, asks others to speak truth to me when I can’t see it for myself, right wrong, make amends, and live in grace, forgiveness,and service to God and others.
“What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul”? In a sense, I lost much of my world, but feel I gained my soul.
So lost out or spared from? Today I’m thinking spared from.