QUESTION; When I was growing up, there was a word we used for people who didn’t keep their commitments or weren’t very responsible. We called them “flakes.” Now, I’m in my late 60s and my experience has been that people are getting flakier and flakier. I don’t drive anymore because of my eyesight and I had an important doctor’s appointment. My next door neighbor told me he’d take me. I waited until 10 minutes after the time we were supposed to leave and then called his home. His wife said he’d gone golfing and they are a one-car family so she couldn’t help me. I took a taxi which was way out of my budget because I’m on a limited income. Later, my neighbor apologized profusely and said he’d never forget anything like this again. I don’t trust him and I won’t ask him.
I’m not asking you to help me get rides when I need them. What I would like to know is how to get over the anger and frustration of being let down time after time.
~ Alone Without Help
Dear Alone Without Help,
You are not alone because you reached out and here we are as One in this moment. Let’s see if you would be willing to look at the possibility that your neighbor gave you “a gift” much greater than a ride to your appointment.
We tend to believe not having anyone to help us means we are alone. In this case, the mere presence of this man in your life shows you are not alone. The issue is about your reaction to the experience. When I have had an experience like this (which, again, confirms you are not alone in this), it had to do with judging myself for not being worthy enough. I have come to realize this attitude served me in some way and, usually, it was about my wanting to be right and feeling more in control of my life. Personally, I am learning about surrendering.
Remember when you did something “flakey?” Probably. Was it intentional? Probably not. More than likely you forgot or there was something more important at the moment. This man who didn’t take you to your appointment just forgot because he had a chance to play golf! There is no wrong in this. We all forget at one time or another.
I encourage being open to receiving his apology thereby allowing you the opportunity of forgiving him. We must learn to receive love as well as give it. You both received three “gifts” with this experience: 1) receiving love and forgiveness; 2) giving love & forgiveness; 3) It’s over. I say, “Being present in the present is another present.” Take a deep breath. Breathe in your experience of who God is to you, the One ever present in every breath we breathe. Feel it. Allow God to enter your lungs, surrounding your heart with the experience of receiving love and forgiveness. Breathe out giving the love and forgiveness to you neighbor. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Affirm: I am learning to love & accept myself & others unconditionally. I will not “should on myself” today.
Dear Alone Without Help,
I believe it was the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre who once jokingly remarked that the most difficult thing about life is that we have to deal with other people. It’s laughingly true. The problem, on one hand, is that people do disappoint our expectations. We may feel let down and, what is worse, we may feel hurt, pain and injury as a result. The problem, on the other hand, is we may feel disrespected and devalued as well.
Anger and pride are a self-comforting applied band-aid all of us use for our wounded sense of value and self respect. There is nothing wrong with that. We are just trying to survive life. The problem is it is short-term solution and if held onto, begins to fester. I sense your letter has arisen from that. The healing bitter pill we all have to swallow is forgiveness. According to the Buddha, when we refuse to forgive, ultimately the torture and suffering is far greater for us. So when we give another a break, we are also giving ourselves a break. It helps to realize that not one of us makes it through life without screwing up at one point or another. It’s a just given. According to Saint Bernard, spiritual humility begins with the acceptance of what is given in our lives.
There are two things in addition to forgiveness you can do to heal this situation. One is spiritual, the other is spirit in practice. In Science of Mind, we believe that life reflects back to us whatever we think into it, be it good or bad. Far better to think into it the Good. So you can begin by using this daily affirmation: “I am always supported and sustained in life. I am never alone. God is always with me, and with me in many forms, be it friends or acquaintances. All my needs are always met and taken care of whenever they arise. Thank you, Father.” See how good that feels. Repeat it until you believe it and, as Jesus says, it will be so.
Now for the spirit in practice. I do a lot of traveling. My neighbor takes me to the airport. As awkward as it feels, I always call him the night before to reconfirm (i.e. remind him). He never becomes angry for the little reminder.
Anthony Kelson, RScP.
Center for Spiritual Living – La Crescenta
QUESTION: Recently, I traveled close to 100 miles to attend a wedding that was supposed to start at 2 p.m. I allowed myself plenty of time to get there and was even a few minutes early. I was then told the wedding wasn’t going to begin until 2:30 p.m. “to accommodate guests coming from a distance.” Actually, the wedding didn’t begin until 2:45 p.m. I was sharing this with a friend who had had a similar experience. It seems that even though weddings are scheduled to start at a certain time, wedding coordinators have begun delaying weddings anywhere from a half hour to an hour. To me, this is rude and disrespectful of the majority of guests who show up on time.
Is this a new way of doing weddings? I’m wondering, what do clergy members think of this practice?
~ Done with Weddings
Dear Done with Weddings,
I am so sorry to hear that you are done with weddings. They can be amazingly joyful opportunities to experience the sharing of love between a couple, along with their family and friends. As a minister who has officiated at many weddings, I usually find them to be very positive occasions even when things don’t go exactly the way we expect. But I can certainly sympathize with you about weddings starting very late. Many years ago, I arrived at the wedding venue early, as I usually do, and waited along with the musician and photographer for close to 45 minutes for the couple and the guests to arrive. Evidently the guests knew not to expect the couple to arrive on time and paced themselves accordingly. But those of us who had been paid to perform at the event did not get the memo and talked about leaving – though not seriously. And some of my colleagues have even started charging extra when weddings start more than 15 minutes late.
I agree that intentionally postponing the starting time of a wedding can be annoying. But we don’t always know what has been going on behind the scenes. Maybe one member of the couple has had a moment of panic or one of the rings cannot be found. Maybe the young flower girl or ring bearer got sick or one of the grandparents is slow getting to the site. As far as I know, lateness is not a new way that weddings are being done and agree that it would be nicer for the guests if things went as planned. But I hope that we can be a little patient with each other and ourselves when they don’t.
And I do hope that you will continue to go to weddings.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Minister
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills
Dear Done with Weddings,
I appreciate and understand your frustration dealing with delays when you make an effort to be on time, but please don’t give up on weddings. It is just so meaningful to participate in an event where two loving individuals commit to be together for the rest of their lives and create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. And besides, weddings really are a lot of fun.
The lack of punctuality is unfortunately quite commonplace in our lives today. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for a delay, but often it is simply a lack of courtesy for others. I was raised to understand that coming late to a meeting displays disrespect for another person’s time, and that time is a very precious commodity. Like you, I wish that more people would look at things this way.
But even if some people may not be as courteous as they should be, I would still counsel that you strive to be as understanding as possible. Don’t deprive yourself of the special moments in life because of the lack of proper conduct by others. I’m sure you agree that in the end, the joy of attending a wedding and sharing happy times with friends and loved ones far outweighs the frustrating inconvenience of a delayed starting time.
Rabbi Simcha Backman
Chabad Jewish Center