We people are different one from another from a physical point of view, that of our aptitudes, our mental structure and our spiritual development. It is all right for us to be different and it is all right to learn things from each other, but what happens when we are so different that we start not to get along anymore?
In most relationships, someone dominates and someone lets himself be dominated – I am not going to start a debate on roles by gender or others, but I am only starting from an ascertained fact – someone is weaker and someone is more sensitive to the former’s vulnerability, someone is more developed and wants to contribute to the others development… From my personal and professional experience, a person cannot really change unless they are ready and determined to do it. No matter how much I’ve wanted for some of the people I’ve met until now, no matter how good the change would have been for them and for those around them, some of them were not determined to change.
During college, I was assigned to different institutions where children with disabilities were fostered. After my first visit I was very disappointed: I would have wished so many things for those children, but they simply were not feasible. These children’s disabilities were so severe that there weren’t really many things one could do in order to help them become somewhat independent. This I couldn’t do, but for a change I could offer them something to make things better for them: attention and affection. Many of the children there were not able to dress by themselves, to study and to earn their living, but at least I offered them a day when they felt better, less neglected – this aspect was also a problem, because of the small number of employees and of not accepting volunteer contracts. I personally couldn’t do much, but I made a difference, at least for one day, for one hour, in the life of some children abandoned by their own parents because they hadn’t risen up to their “level of expectations”.
We are born with a permanent desire to seek and wish for life, literally or figuratively, but as time goes by, some of us often even choose death. Life can mean the joy to live, to bring children into the world, to get closer to God, Who is Life by definition, while death is getting astray from Him, the physical and spiritual degradation. One extremely sad thing is the situation in which one of the people close to us chooses death and no matter how hard we try, he seems not to want more than that. Accepting such a person, who more or less consciously hurts himself and implicitly his family, is something extremely difficult. Accepting a stranger the way he is, is not that difficult as accepting someone dear. The dreams and expectations regarding the ideal family fall apart, as if to make things even harder. But criticizing or nagging the person who bothers us is similar to accusing ourselves of our own imperfections.
Accepting a person unconditionally, because he is human, even if we do not approve of his actions, is one of the greatest proofs of love, and love, loving one another, is one of the major commandments. Praying for each other is a proof of love, relating to one another with care is a proof of love, and authentic love touches, softens, reaches a core, sometimes faster, other times it takes longer.
Relating to someone maliciously or with anger arouses the negative side of the other person. When the approach is made with love, one has God besides him. One cannot produce a real, deep change through malice, quarrel and threats. Change comes through and from God, and by acting that way, I doubt one has Him as their ally, no matter how noble the purposes. Through personal example, through guidance with love, warmth and understanding, through prayer, you are offered more than you might gain through the use of the sword.
To return to the subject, I have met persons that I didn’t like at all, or violent children, people who used to behave very badly. I didn’t like them, but this wasn’t my personal problem. I was there in order to do something for them – I am thinking both of the personal or professional aspect of my existence until now – although in some cases I didn’t want to be where I was.
I learned in time that behind people with different addictions there is a hidden suffering. When you draw closer to that suffering, it is like breaking a wall. The addicted, most of them, try to fill in a gap: from the lack of an appropriate emotional environment, to the discontent that they are not understood, even the lack of a relationship with God. Taking into account that a relationship is built in two, the one who does not face an addiction is not exonerated of responsibility. It would be much more useful to examine themselves and find what is in their attitude and behaviour that makes their partner persist? It is important for the one who is not the slave of a substance to try to forgive their spouse, who maybe has not behaved faultlessly sometimes, pushed by alcohol, for instance.
Unfortunately, I can’t give a recipe, but, to sum up, the most important is: the personal relationship with God, to approach the addicted with love, the change at a personal level, which in time will determine, with God’s mercy, a change in the others and acceptance of the person for what they are, even if we do not approve of what they do.
Translated by Claudia