The Remedy for Misery
I went to see Les Miserables twice over the weekend. I was so moved and inspired by this movie that I could probably write a blog a day for the next month based solely on the messages I received from it. If you sit up close you will surely feel the energy of the human spirit as it confronts love, war, loneliness, fear, joy, pain, rejection, protection, forgiveness, blame, shame, purity, perversion, and everything else in between life and death. And it was all relational. The most beautiful, poignant and painful moments in the movie (and in life) occur through the impact of one person to another and the trickle-down effect that follows. We affect each other for better or worse by the choices that we make and the actions - or inaction - that result from those choices.
In one scene in Les Miserables, a desperate man steals a bunch of silver from a priest. Instead of turning him over to the police, the priest offers the thief more silver and tells him to use it to start a new life. This act of kindness so moves the thief that he feels the spirit of love (probably for the first time in a long time), and that love transforms him. He is a changed man, and he lives a new life with dignity and compassion, and goes on to influence and transform other lives -- none of which could have happened without the decision that the priest made. That one choice, made in an instant, could very easily and justifiably have been to report the man to the police. Who would have blamed him? He didn't have time to predict what his decision might mean, he simply chose to love and not judge or condemn.
Every one of us, and every single person we encounter is influenced and transformed for better or worse through each and every experience we have with one another. We may be perfectly justified in our decisions to persecute for an action against us or our loved ones, but we must be mindful when making our decisions. Each choice absolutely will result in some future consequence, and that will continue like a rolling stone picking up or shattering particles along the way. And we will probably never know the full ramifications until we reach our final destination. Sometimes we can mend the wounds, but most remain hidden or neglected. As with any injury, prevention is the best practice. In general it is less costly and much easier to prevent a wound than it is to heal one. Wounded souls are no exception.
Interestingly, there was a strong spiritual aspect to the movie, and the initiator of the first source of loving healing was a priest. His sense of peace, love, and wholeness was obvious, and it was from that peace that he could give. That comes from God. Period. If we are seeking to be filled by other people, places, or things, it's simply not going to happen. We cannot feed our spirit with something physical. Have you ever tried nourishing your physical body with spiritual food? You would starve and die. The same thing happens to our spirit when we try to feed it with physical stuff (people, places, or things). We gradually starve our spirit, and it eventually dies.
I would say that all of our relationship issues are spiritual issues. We are seeking from others who are present to us physically something that our spirits need. Occasionally, we may be lucky enough to meet someone who feeds his spirit and can share with us the fruits of that nourishment, but it is not the physical person who is then feeding us. It is the spirit within. That spirit can change the world.
We live in a society and an era of instant gratification. If I can't get it on the computer, the phone, or the television right here and right now, then I'm moving on to the next thing that can give it to me. This mentality doesn't fly in the spiritual realm, and as a result, we are a society of spiritually sick people acting and reacting in ways that hurt each other terribly. It's an unhealthy and persistent cycle that will continue until each of us takes the time to nourish our spirit. It doesn't cost a thing. It's easy, safe, and extremely effective. All we have to do is set time aside to be still and know God.
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