Faith, God and Family: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?


By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
Sometimes I can’t stay out of my own way. There are days I can’t find my butt with both hands. Occasionally, I wonder if the last several months were a comedy of errors.

If like me you have not reached the nirvana of the Dali Lama, chances are you have unconscious obstacles. It is negative energy you feed without realizing you’re doing it.

There are folks who think it takes too much time and energy for vengeance, to hold a grudge, or have a bad attitude. I disagree. It’s easier, at least for my flawed soul, to let yourself fall into a place of anger and frustration.

It’s a bit like eating a pastry, a pound of pasta, or drinking a large bottle of wine on an empty stomach after a bad day. It feels good at the time, but it is very destructive behavior.

Spiritually and emotionally, there are other issues faced by persons within the LGBTQ community that limit relationships and personal and professional growth. Sometimes it’s tough to let go of demons buried deep in the subconscious. Sometimes we think they’re familiar “friends” and it’s better to keep them.

I was in college when I encountered rejection and abandonment. He was an older man I met while volunteering on a Democratic campaign. We became friends. I trusted him. He guided me toward law school. I looked up to him as an older brother.

He asked why I didn’t date women. I was honest. In that moment my world changed. He and his wife rejected me. I went off to law school and gained within the first year more than 100 pounds. It impacted my grades and initiated a failure to make genuine friendships.

It happened a long time ago, yet it can still sting in 2017, if I let it.

No doubt I’ve allowed this betrayal, rejection, and humiliation to hold me back spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually. I need to take responsibility for allowing it to limit me. I’ve been an adult for quite some time. I allowed the opinion of misguided people to become my reality.

As days turn into weeks and weeks into months and months into years, I earn perspective. Although I haven’t fully found closure with the experience, I know it has deepened my empathy for others. It’s made me almost obsessive about being professional and at times a personal mentor to others.

Back in seminary, a classmate gave me a Hasidic teaching, which I keep in a pocket-sized Bible that’s in my brief case. Part of it reads, “A person who wakes up in the morning is like a new creation. Begin your day with unkind words, or even trivial matters, even though you may later turn to prayer, you have not been true to your Creation.”

I am mindful of whether I respond or react. I have almost disciplined myself to stop and ask why a certain event or comment may cause me to react in a harsh or negative manner. What’s buried in my subconscious?

Not only do I try to channel negative energy toward the positive like mentoring others, but I pray for those who have hurt me.

It doesn’t always stop me from being angry, yet something calls me to ask God to watch over them. Because I pray for others doesn’t mean I’ve been able to forgive. I leave it to God to forgive them.

I wrote a simple prayer. I often recite it while seeing their faces flash in my mind. “O, Lord, for all those who have touched my life, positively or negatively, for the short- or long-term, for those I remember and don’t, guide and protect them. Bring them joy and happiness. Let their actions be pleasing to you with each passing day so that when called from this earth, you will welcome them into your kingdom. Amen.”

*Paul is a corporate chaplain, seminary trained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, New York. He’s also the author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”

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1 Comment on "Faith, God and Family: Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?"

  1. Louis Riehm | January 17, 2018 at 8:47 pm |

    Chaplin/Priest/Lawyer, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. Part of his problem is his faith infused “reasoning”. Whose law does he advocate? Man’s, or the figment of his imagination.

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