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THE EXERCISE OF OTHER
A man runs into an old friend who had somehow never been able to make it in life. “I should give him some money,” he thinks. But instead he learns that his old friend has grown rich and is actually seeking him out to repay the debts he had run up over the years.
They go to a coffee shop they used to frequent together, and the friend buys coffee for everyone there. When they ask him how he became so successful, he answers that until only a few days ago, he had been living the role of the “Other”.
What is the Other?” they ask.
The Other is the one who taught me what I should be like, but not what I am. The Other believes that it is our obligation to spend our entire life thinking about how to get our hands on as much money as possible so that we will not die for hunger when we are old. So we think so much about money and our plans for acquiring it that we discover we are alive only when our days on earth are practically done. And then it’s too late”
“And you? Who are you?”
I am just like everyone else who listens to their heart; a person who is enchanted by the mystery of life. Who is open to miracles, who experiences joy and enthusiasm for what they do. It’s just that the Other, afraid of disappointment, kept me from taking action.”
“But there is suffering in life,” one of the listeners said.
“And there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it’s better to lose some of the battles in the struggle for your dreams than to be defeated without ever even knowing what you’re fighting for.”
“That’s it?” another listener asked.
“Yes, that’s it. When I learned this, I resolved to become the person I had always wanted to be. The Other stood there in the corner of my room, watching me, but I will never let the Other into myself again – even though it has already tried to frighten me, warning me that it’s risky not to think about the future.
“From the moment that I ousted the Other from my life, the Divine Energy began to perform its miracles.”
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.
The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.
It is easy to get discouraged when things are going badly. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground--it just may be a smoke signal that summons The Grace of God.
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