Remarkable Children (Part Four)

Writing Part Four of the Remarkable Children series — loving the Other — hasn’t come easy. It’s relatively easy to love ourselves, to love our family, to love our friends, but it is hard to love the Others.

When I first contemplated writing this post, I thought I would talk about how I’ve learned to love my enemy — as Jesus has so clearly asked us to do — and I thought of that enemy Other as those people that we are at war with, as people that may harm me or steal from me; as people that live far away or who I may never meet or have cause to actually hate, but only fear.

But then I went deeper. I went closer to home. I went into a reality of Other that is in my life every day. Then suddenly what was very easy to do and to realize — love of the Other — became very hard indeed.

09madThere are people in my life that just tend to piss me off (to put it bluntly), They push my buttons and raise my blood pressure when I am just standing in the same room with them. They don’t have to say a word, they don’t have to look at me. I know who they are, I know how they think and I don’t like them. They are usually opinionated types, full of their own bluster and quick to blame. They don’t express love of Others — not ever — and they rarely express any love for anything else. They spew hatred and condemnation, they judge, they ridicule, they complain, and they are sure that they are right, that what they believe is right, and they refuse to look at anyone or anything in any other way than the way they see it. They are right, you are wrong. End of story.

What do we do with these idiots — er, Remarkable Children of God that irritate us? Perhaps the answer is in how we see them. If we change how we see them and try to look at them from another angle and get another view of who they really are, perhaps we can at least change who we are, if not begin to change who they are.

Seek to see The Child in everyone you meet.

If you look deeply, sit quietly and listen you will see The Child. This exercise is especially useful when the adult you are engaged with is an Irritating Adult because it takes extra effort to see The Child in that person without also wanting to turn them over your knee and give them a good spanking.

People have reasons for acting out, just like children do. They aren’t “just that way.” If you take a moment to listen and to see The Child within the angry adult, you may discover why they are the way they are, but more importantly you may discover your Compassion (yes, Compassion with a Christ-like capitol “C”). Once you have discovered (or is it recovered) your Compassion, all sorts of good things will follow. Your blood pressure will most certainly lower, your breathing will calm and your heart will feel softer and stronger and more bold, your mind will feel less of their stress and your own frenetic emotions will ease their struggle.

And then (and here’s the really beautiful part), and then they will capture — even without meaning to — they will capture your ease, your calm, your assurance into their own bodies. You may not see it, for they may be so good at masking their true feelings that even through your love and compassion they will be able to hold the mask in front of themselves and fool you into thinking that they have not understood your message of calm assurance. But don’t be fooled, for each time you reach out to that Angry Adult with love and compassion and comfort, you weaken the arm that holds up the mask. You may never see the effect of your efforts, but someone will have that blessing one day. You don’t have to see the effect to know that it is there.

And what about you? Aren’t you feeling lighter, more loved and more holy? And isn’t that the whole point? You cannot control what others feel, only what you feel, and if you make even one more step towards a Christ-like state of being, then you have forged not only a path for yourself to follow, but a path for others.

I must ask you, which child are you today? The hurt child, the delighted child, the tired and cranky child, the lonely child, the rebellious child, the playful child?

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi



  1. Oh wow – well said! The next time I’m confronted with an Angry Adult I’m going to try very hard to see The Child (especially if the Angry Adult is me 🙂 ).

  2. One of the most useful, painful veins in my life helped me in this area. Early in my ordination process I made an effort to work out some issues in my relationship with my father. I talked with him about it, laid out my desires, and invited his participation. He said he wasn’t interested. After putting a bandaid on the hurt (that kind of hurt never really goes away) I realized that I had to make some major adjustments to how I approached our relationship. I came to see his response as indicative of his own pain, a result of the damage in his own soul. That helped me tremendously because it opened a deeper place of compassion within me that was now specifically directed at a person upon whom I had placed a whole series of expectations as a parent. Practicing compassion with my father changed how I related with him, and it changed how I perceived others in my life who, as you describe, push buttons, and all that jazz. It’s hard work, but when we do it that walk on the balance beam of life becomes a bit less hazardous.

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