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Thursday, April 8, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Luke 15

This morning I had a wonderful experience that fed directly into my reading for the day. I woke up early and went to my Codependents Anonymous meeting as I always do on Thursday mornings. While there, we spent our time talking about two concepts: denial and acceptance. Much of our time was spent reflecting on these concepts in relation to ourselves.

When it came for my time to share, I talked a bit about a relationship in my life that I’m struggling with where the other person is EXTREMELY controlling. At first, I talked about my own tendencies to be controlling and how I had to work through my initial denial of that fact and then come to a sense of acceptance of my controlling tendencies. Through that process of accepting my own tendencies to control I was – ironically – able to step back from that tendency and do a better job of keeping my controlling impulses in check. Or so I thought!

As I was reflecting on my relationship with the controlling person in my life, I realized that a part of me was gearing up to figure out how I could stop the other person from being so controlling. I was focusing on how I could change her (or at least minimize her controlling behaviors). As I was sharing my struggle, I stopped mid-sentence and laughed. I realized in my efforts to confront another’s controlling behavior, I was setting myself up for being controlling. In that moment I realized that a part of me is being called to accept the controlling nature of the other person. It doesn’t mean that I have to give in to her controlling impulses. I can certainly set boundaries for myself and not become a doormat. At the same time, however, I can let the other person be who she is and love her for who she is – not for who I would prefer her to be.

In so many ways, this is the lesson of the Prodigal Son contained in today’s reading from Luke. So often in the past I’ve read the parable simply as a lesson in unconditional love. While there is certainly that theme in the reading, there is another – perhaps more specific lesson here. In his expression of unconditional love, the Father accepts the son exactly as he is. He doesn’t say, “I will love you if…” He simply throws open his arms and welcomes him back. The irony of our faith is that when we allow ourselves to experience such love – I mean REALLY experience such love – it can’t help but transform you. At least that’s been my experience of experiencing such love.

So today my challenge is to love the person in my life to the fullest of my ability – even those parts of her that are controlling – and let the rest take care of itself.

Perhaps there is someone in your life that you have yet to succeed in loving them on their terms – someone who you have obsessed about changing or transforming into someone else before you will love them. If that’s the case, re-direct your energies away from trying to control the other person and toward loving the person as they are. You might be surprised what happens when you begin to do that: not just to for the other person but for yourself as well!

Til next time…

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