The Personalist Project

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Accessed on December 10, 2018 - 7:00:41

Other people are the way to grace

Katie van Schaijik, Jan 28, 2014

Isn't it weird how exactly right and at the same time completely wrong Sartre was when he wrote, "Hell is other people"? He is right in as much as hell is the use and abuse that is the master/slave dynamic of the fall.

When you're being used, you're in hell. When you're using others, you're in hell. 

The only way out is through the heaven of self-oblating, other-receiving, life-giving love. I've had very intense experiences of it this week. I mean, the contrast between being loved and being abused, between hell and heaven. I've had searing existential confirmation, this week, of the truth of the deepest mystery of human life: our path to heaven or hell has everything to do with personal relations.  

Will we spend ourselves in loving and serving others, or will we exploit and dispense with others to gratify and enrich our selves? When we're loved, we're full of life and joy and deep, deep consolation.  When we're treated with contempt and abuse, we're in anguish.

Finding myself abused by people who owe me love and respect, I have felt the full force of the temptation to hate in return.  And there I am, right in hell with my abusers.  I have felt the hard challenge of the gospel. "Answer the abuse with love and truth and sacrifice."  I have felt the human impossibility of it. "I can't. It's too hard." And then the promise of the gospel, "I'll help. You'll do it through My power. I will bear you up."

And I've felt the onrush of grace and mercy, even amid the unremitting human hardship of the task in front of me.  Here's the central message: "It's hard; it's going to hurt; you have a long way to go, but I will not fail you. Others will fail you. Ten thousand will fall at your right hand. Friends you thought you could rely on will desert you.  But I will not desert you. I hold you in the shelter of my wings. I will spread the table before you in the sight of your enemies. And I will make you to grow wings, like an eagel, and mount to the sky. All you have to do is say 'yes' to suffering injustice. All you have to do is reflect back to Me, an image of what My Son did for you on the cross." 

The way to put a stop to abuse is to agree to suffer it, as a sacrifce for love. Then, hand it back to abuser as a gift. "This is what you did to me, and this is what I did for you, because I want to see you in heaven, not in hell."

If he accepts the gift, you have heaven together.  If he refuses it, you have Divine Grace in much fuller measure than before. You really can't lose.