Sunday, December 31, 2017

Seeing the Other as Other

What we dislike in others we dislike in ourselves and when we recognize this in ourselves the shock is great but our eyes are opened. A priest writing in the Catholic Digest tells his readers how this happened in his life.

His father was a diabetic and exteriorly looked healthy but the writer only remembers him lying in bed. He was bothered by his father's inability to get up and live a natural life. Was it from that time on he doesn't know but he always had a strong dislike for laziness. In his thinking, persons who wanted could do anything they set their mind to do.

His own life was busy with many things and he felt good about the life he was leading. He was busy with pastoral work, working with musical groups and with radio and saw no problems.

Last year, however, he was told on a visit to the hospital that he had to rest. He was diagnosed with hormonal imbalance. He was tired and his emotions were affected he was burnt out. His immunity was not functioning and looking at him nothing seemed out of order but even a few steps would tire him and he had to take a period of recuperation.

As soon as he began the whole body began to ache and he had to go to bed. For some time that was the only relief that he had. He even didn't want to get up to eat. When he decided to do some exercising it would last only for a few minutes before he was overcome with fatigue. His father's situation came back to him, people like his father are not lazy they are sick.                                                                                                      It was at this time that he began to go back in time and remind himself of the way his father would interact with him. He was always kind in his dealings with him not once does he remember his father losing his temper. He remembered his father taking him out to the ball field to play. Just as he was beginning to enjoy the play after about 30 minutes the father wanted to return to the house and he remembers hating his father for stopping the fun.  And now he found it difficult to exercise for 10 minutes. His father wasn't lazy but a father who loved his son and tried to overcome his body to be with his son. 

A few days earlier he receive a telephone call from a young man who everything he tried had failed and called him to complain. If this had happened in the past he would have told the young man give it all you have, it will be all right, but mentally he would think that he was just lazy. However this time he listened carefully to the young man and responded differently: "You have really worked hard. You have really tried to overcome your difficulties. Take a rest and try again" his tone had changed. The young man thanked him for the  consoling words. He put the telephone down and started to cry remembering the  times he could have been more understanding of his father.   

He resolved to respond to complaints he hears in the future in a different way from the past and understand the person who is speaking and his or her feelings and give them strength and encouragement. He had learned an important lesson. Isn't this a good way to begin our new Year?                              

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