I have the blessing of eternal perspective, when I remember to use it. My life here is less than the blink of an eye when compared to eternity. Father tells us we are eternal beings, whose souls will live on long after our bodies are dead. When I meditate on that, it humbles me. It makes me desire to have an eternal impact as I move through this temporal life.
My Love’s mad love for Father is a large part of the reason I fell in love with him. When I take the eternal perspective, I think about how Father can use he and I for his kingdom. I see how our gifts and talents complement each other’s, and I get excited at the prospect of the two of us being more for Him than either of us could be alone.
When I have eternal perspective, the small irritations don’t matter, but are overshadowed by the good. I can pick up after him happily, or comfortably exist in the mess, without even trying; after all, he couldn’t care less about the messes I make. I can adjust my conversation style to make room for his ADD-induced, mid-sentence interruptions and sudden subject changes, knowing that if I have something truly important to say, I can tell him so, and he will stop what he’s doing and listen. I can pursue my life alone when he needs time for himself, and let him know cheerfully that when he’s ready to face the world again, I’m here–just as he willingly moves outside his comfort zone to accommodate my higher need for together time. With eternal perspective, how important is picking up a mess, compared with the work he and I could do for Father? Being interrupted shrinks in importance when juxtaposed with the impact Father allows us to have on his kingdom. When I have an eternal perspective, none of this is work, and some of it isn’t even conscious. It merely happens, via the Holy Spirit living inside me.
All too often, however, my life slips back into unmanageable chaos as I forget Who saved me, and Whom I serve. My illness of codependency is an illness of “defense mechanisms,” habitual behaviors taken on in times of stress or unmet needs, in order to deal with the situation. Humans are incredibly adaptive creatures, and these defensive mechanisms are a necessary means of emotional survival. They only become harmful when the stressful situation is over, yet the habits remain.
Step One. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
Unmanageability means that old habits are running our lives, and when I lose eternal perspective, my life becomes once again unmanageable. I forget what is important, and instead rely on my feelings, which give a skewed sense of what is important. I forget that I have the protection, love, and care of the Holy Spirit, and I enter survival mode, ready to take care of myself. Suddenly, being interrupted is no longer endearing or of no consequence; instead, it makes the interrupter an “asshole.” Dropping a sarcastic message and then turning off his phone is no longer a signal that he needs to be alone, but instead shows him to be “cowardly” and “selfish.” How quickly I forget the social graces and interpersonal skills I myself lack, and the love and forgiveness Father has lavished on me despite these gigantic shortcomings. How rapidly I am willing to turn and attack the very person who is always on my team, who always has my back. My Love is not The Enemy, this is not a time of stress or unmet need, and I have no need for the old defense mechanisms. This is a textbook case of unmanageability.
I can spend a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime being mad at my mom, my kids, My Love, my boss, my friend. Alternatively, I can choose at any time to turn to Father, wallow in scripture instead of self-pity, and get humble. Get some perspective. How important is it? Why am I trying to sabotage a relationship that is real, that is good, that is useful to Father, in order to hold onto old habits that are no longer needed or wanted? Why do I struggle against the eternal perspective that provides emotional health and balance?
And I do struggle mightily! For instance, yesterday I tearfully made a list of all the reasons why I was angry. I also snapped at my children at least twice for very minor infractions. I worked hard to maintain that anger, while all the while in the back of my head I knew that if I sat down with Father and let him search my heart, I would find that I was at fault, not the object of my anger. Yet even as I read scripture and Al-Anon literature, prayed, and sought Father, I resisted, kept resisting, and resisted some more, until I finally happened upon this passage and surrendered to the inevitable.
“How Important Is It?” This slogan helps us gain perspective. If we take the time to think about what really matters to us, we may include such concerns as health, serenity, adequate food and shelter, and loving support from others. Each of us is free to determine for ourselves what is truly of value, but most of us agree that we often get upset about matters of little consequence. Compared to whether or not we will have enough to eat today, how important is it if we overcook the chicken for dinner? Is forgetting to pick up a newspaper worth the cost of our serenity? What price are we willing to pay to win an argument or prove to other people that we are right? . . . Does it merit even five minutes of unhappiness? Does it really matter ? Must we take it personally? Is it worth the price of self-recrimination, resentment of others, or hours of worry? Just “How Important Is It?” ~How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics
How important, indeed.