loving people who feel hard to love
About two months ago, I began working part-time at a local clothing store. Throughout high school and college, I worked in retail and, while it can be taxing on my energy body and nervous system, it is also a fantastic crash course in learning to love people who can feel hard to love. If you work in retail or have worked in a retail environment, you know what I'm talking about. ;)
I don't see my work as a writer, sound healer, and intuitive counselor as separate from my work as a part-time sales associate. They are both vocations. They are both opportunities to plant seeds, to create healing, to disrupt, to extend love, and to expose suffering and hard truths so we can grow.
I learn so much from my team and our customers. I'm learning to deepen my practice of listening. People can tell you very vulnerable things as you assist them in a dressing room. And when peoples' shadow sides come out at the hands of materialism (which, of course, always stems from and further contributes to suffering), showing up with integrity and love is paramount to me.
Last week, my co-workers and I experienced a customer who was very hostile and angry. She said unkind and hurtful things to both of my co-workers. She knew just how to push our buttons. Internally, I reacted and wanted to be passive-aggressively hostile back.
As she hastily walked out of the store, I returned to deep breathing and asked for Divine assistance. She returned again later and a similar interaction was had. I felt frustrated after her interaction with my co-workers. Again, I returned to deep breathing and asked for angelic assistance.
I could feel this woman's heart. She was feeling sad and out of control and looking for something to control. But she didn't have the capacity to access this on her own. So, she projected her pain outward and it manifested as hostility and control.
I felt the angels ask me, "Who do you expect her to be when she returns?"
I said to them, "Angry, hostile, and controlling."
Then, I felt the angels ask me, "Who do you expect to be when she returns?"
In that moment, I was reminded of what I can so easily forget when I am in the presence of people who can feel hard to love.
Thich Nhat Hanh says that impermanence, or change, as a theory or an idea doesn't work. It is when we practice being mindful of impermanence, or change, as the true constant in our lives that we become fresher and more loving.
That woman who came back into the store behaved the same in part because I was not a space for her to change. I expected her to continue to be angry, and so I watered the seeds of anger inside of her. I expected her to be controlling, and so I watered the seeds of control inside of her. She has her part too, but my part - that which I can control - continued to water those seeds of suffering in her.
In that interaction, I forgot that God is impermanence, that I am an extension of God, and that she is also an extension of God.
And if God is Love, then Love, too, is impermanence.
If God is Love, then Love, too, is giving someone space to change.
If God is Love, then Love, too, is giving someone space to change into the fullest expression of Love that they can be.
How might our relationships shift if we practiced seeing ourselves and everyone we come into contact with as capable of change?
How might our relationships shift if we held a space for others that energetically says, "I believe that you can evolve and change into a truer expression of Love."
Thich Nhat Hanh also says that if I'm craving something and I can see the danger within that craving, then I can be released from that craving.
In our interaction, if I am craving to prove my point that I am right and you are wrong and I do not notice the danger in that, I will continue craving to prove my point that I am right and you are wrong. I will not be able to be present with you and to see you because I will be consumed by my craving.
This doesn't mean that I shouldn't have opinions. But perhaps it means that I have opinions and I hold them loosely. I wear them like loose clothing - not so tight - so that I can let people in and I can give them a chance to let me in too.
Before I go into work now my prayer is:
"Mother- Father God; angels; thank you for assisting me in being an embodiment of fierce Love, compassion, and tenderness. Thank you for helping me to be a space that gives myself and others permission to evolve into the fullest expression of Love that they can be."
Here's to continuing the moment-by-moment practice of integrating our innate divinity and our temporary humanity.
P.S. - This is not a blanket statement. I'm not suggesting that we naively allow ourselves to be berated by people who are unwilling and incapable of change. Boundaries can be fiercely loving too. Trust yourself, your intuition, and your own reverent practice.