Posted by: Dan | August 5, 2004

Oppressive Potential

Her: “I'm fucked-up.”
Him: “No you're not.”
Her: “I've been shattered.”
Him: “No, you're whole.”
Her: “I'm ugly.”
Him: “No, you're beautiful.”
Her: “I'm damaged goods, I'm worthless.”
Him: “No, you're precious.”
Her: “I'm fucked-up.”
Him: “No you're not.”
Her: “Yes I am.”
Him: “No you're not.”
Her: “Yes I am.
Him: “Okay… jeez… relax. What's your problem, anyway?”

You see, here's the thing. Loving people means allowing them to be fucked-up. That's why so often it is better to listen than it is to offer solutions. Even when people cry out for help, even when you're sure you have all the answers. Job's friends had all the answers and look what they did to him. The only time the demonstrated their wisdom was at the very beginning when they sat in silence with him. Once they started offering solutions everything goes downhill and Job's sufferings are made worse. You see, a person who has been shattered is only sure of one thing – that she is shattered. To say that they're not, means nothing to them and only leads them to conclude that you don't understand. It's what Rick Tobias calls “oppressive potential.” By always seeing what person can be, we never end up meeting them where they are. Instead of offering answers we need to be offering love. That conversation should run more like this:

Her: “I'm fucked-up.”
Him: “I love you.”
Her: “I've been shattered.”
Him: “I love you.”
Her: “I'm ugly.”
Him: “I love you.”
Her: “I'm damaged goods, I'm worthless.”
Him: “I love you.”
Her: “I'm fucked-up.”
Him: “I love you.”

Although she may be sure that she is shattered this love thing may be something new. It may start her thinking, “What is he talking about?” She may be sure of her brokenness, and worthlessness no matter how many times you tell her otherwise, but as you journey in love relationship with her, she will begin to realize, “Hold on a minute… this love thing is something that makes me whole. It's something that makes me beautiful and precious. It's something that makes me not fucked-up!”

Of course the genders could be just as easily reversed. I don't want to suggest that women are always the “victims” and men are always saving them (the idea that men must always save women is one that, ultimately, only further victimizes women).

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