While visiting my friend here in Washington, we talk quite a lot. She has a fine mind and a very high emotional quotient, at least in my opinion. During one of our conversations, she challenged me when I was talking about how I offer emotional support and encouragement. “You say that with such pride and arrogance, ‘It’s what I do.’”.
This caused me to pause and reflect for a few moments. Then I revisited the comment early this morning.
As I examine myself in this regard, I don’t have a sense of arrogance about the statement “It’s what I do.” It’s more an observation, similar to any statement of fact. I might as well say “I am a man,” or “I am human.”
It isn’t about pride at all, but she was right when she said “You do that to make yourself feel better.” That poked a bit.
I wondered why I bristled at the statement. Perhaps it is not OK for me to offer support if the motive is selfish — I do it to make myself feel better.
Furthermore, I wonder if it is arrogant for me to interfere with another’s suffering. Is that state something they need for their personal growth? I’m reminded of an aphorism I read about suffering well, in recognition that we all suffer and that suffering is a primary path for growth. If, in offering support and encouragement, I interfere with another’s suffering am I short-circuiting their path to growth and stymying God’s will for them?
That would not be what I want at all. If “It’s what I do” is interfering with the other person’s growth and I am doing it for the selfish reason of feeling better about myself, then that can’t be good at all.
Therefore, I think I need to reflect on this idea a bit more. It’s OK, I think, to be sensitive to other’s suffering, to be kind and gentle in one’s dealings with others. But to interfere, well, that might not be a good thing. Perhaps it’s better to keep to myself, to offer prayers (without even saying so), to mind my own business and take care of my own affairs.
Sometimes I think I talk too much and say too little. That is another rumination, though, and one I think I’ll save for later. This bit is enough for today.