A few years ago I attended a teaching given by Rev. Dr Michael Beckwith. During the lecture he redefined responsibility as "the ability to respond in love." I really liked his take on the word. As a spiritual quality, responsibility in the traditional sense seems a bit heavy to me. However, with the perspective shift, it feels like an invitation to be actively engaged in a continuous spiritual practice.
It's also an invitation to pause before reacting. To paraphrase A Course In Miracles, "Every communication is either an extension of Love or a call for Love." That's a pretty powerful statement isn't it? Let's break it down.
1. Every communication - the word "every" is very clear and offers little wiggle room. It suggests that there's no exceptions when connecting with others. Think about how many times a day you communicate with someone else. Even if you don't leave the house there's usually some point in your day when you'll answer an email or pick up the phone. How would your style of communicating change if you were always extending Love?
2. An extension of Love - I think people often confuse loving with nice. I've witnessed parents discipline their children in a loving way. The kid didn't think it was very nice but as an adult I knew the parent was being loving. If we're not attacking another, we're usually coming from a place of Love. But I encourage you to consider all the forms attack can take. Gossip can be an attack, lying can be an attack, withholding can be an attack, and ignoring can be an attack. On the flip side, saying "no" can be very loving, standing your ground can be loving, firing someone can be loving. Ask your inner guides to help you make the most loving choice and follow your intuition.
3. A call for Love - never have I acted cruelly because I was feeling really good about myself. It always comes from a place of insecurity and fear. Understanding this, we can at least acknowledge that when someone is mean, vicious, or deceitful it's coming from a place other than Love... it's just a mistake. If it's not an extension of Love, it's a call for Love. The question then becomes, how do you respond to a call or Love?
When someone is attacking us, how do we respond? Obviously, I'm not referring to physical attack, though if someone is acting violently and harming others it would be very loving to restrain them or call the proper authorities that are trained to do so. I'm referring to situations in which someone is making a call for love in the form of insults or unkindness. If we were to practice responsibility as referenced above, how would you return a call for Love? Would you match the persons viscousness or would you pause, and ask yourself, "how would Love respond?"
It's not always easy but when you practice what I now call "True Responsibility" you live in the land or miracles. I'm committed to being a loving presence in the world and the it's my responsibility to respond in Love. I don't always succeed but thank God I also practice forgiveness. Besides, it's a spiritual practice isn't it? It's not a spiritual "get it perfect on the first try".
Jesse Brune-Horan is a Spiritual teacher and happy living expert. He's the co-founder & Spiritual director of Inspire Spiritual Community, a non-profit organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community. He's the host of the podcast "LGBTQ+ and Spiritual", and co-host of the lifestyle series "Super Easy with Jesse and Alison." He lives and Loves in Los Angeles with his husband Christopher and their family.