The following two thoughts came the same day from two different sources. I was struck with the similarity of their messages, at least in the way I read and interpreted them. See what you think:
In all tests of character, when two viewpoints are pitted against one another, in the final analysis the thing that will strike you the most, is not who was right or wrong, strong or weak, wise or foolish.... but who would go to the greatest lengths in considering the other's perspective.
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Echoes Of Power - Sacred Vows
Speech is a vehicle for vows, but the sacred vows we speak are more than just words. When we make a promise, a subtle yet powerful shift takes place in our souls where intentions are housed. A vow is both a tool we employ in order to facilitate transformation within ourselves and an expression of will. Thus, to make an oath is to communicate to the universe and our deeper selves our commitment to the principles most important to us. Fulfilling a sacred vow—whether it is as complex as "'till death do us part" or as simple as "I promise"—challenges us, exercising our willpower and aiding personal growth.
When we speak a sacred vow out loud rather than reciting it in our minds or recording it on paper, our voices project our promises into the deepest reaches of the universe. It is important that we remember that a vow made with the sincerest of intentions has the power to carry on past our earthly lifetimes. A well-chosen vow encourages commitment and dedication. The presence or approval of a spiritual teacher is not necessary to success, as true oaths are a product of the heart.
A sacred vow, once spoken, becomes a part of your existence forevermore. Your view of the world around you may change, and your predominant thoughts and feelings will no doubt evolve with time, but the spirit in which your oaths were spoken will remain unaffected. It is up to you to determine how you will stay true to your vows while your inner- and outer-world existence is transformed. Your strength and character will inevitably be tested as circumstances make keeping promises increasingly challenging, but after you have shown yourself steadfast many times, your appreciation of the sanctity of vows will be cemented in your mind and soul.
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Several thoughts crossed my mind ... do we actually consider the other's point of view before or when making a sacred vow? Sometimes the vow is broken because there was not much forethought, in my opinion. If we don't inquire and consider the other person's perspective, can we honor it? Does our vow mean much if the other has a different understanding? Does my promise mean anything at all if you understand it differently? Is it really a commitment if I have not included and considered your needs? If you accept it without knowing my full perspective, how will you accept the necessary change when the whole truth is known?
I have a friend entering a relationship at a deeper level (cohabiting) within the next month, and I know that he has not been forthcoming with the woman about certain things. I suspect a less-than-ideal outcome because when certain things come to the fore, if I were in her shoes I would be furious. These are not big things, but just things that I would be angry about once it is out in the open because it represents lack of complete honesty and lack of concern for my opinion and equality in the relationship.
I've said I'll probably never marry or cohabit again in my life. Part of it is because I value my independence. Part of it is because I don't think I could live in a relationship that is based on anything less than complete honesty, considerate of each other, respectful of the other's viewpoint, worthy of being called a "sacred vow." And finding someone who will actually be completely honest before jumping into the relationship can be a challenge.
I also put this same standard to friendships. I don't have a lot of "true" friends. Because communication at this level seems to be difficult for many people I rarely put 100% into friendships. I don't think people are bad or meaningfully fail to commit. I just think we don't think about it that deeply. It always stuns me when I find that a friend has harbored some feelings without bringing it out for discussion to find a way to make it non-threatening to the relationship. Yes, I know that kind of openness is hard; it is for me, too. But if something bothers me, I'd rather get it on the table so that both of us might have a chance to find the middle ground.
I don't expect this kind of total consideration with everyone. Goodness, no! But for people who would I call "Friend," or "Partner," (note the capitalizations) in my book it has to be at that level of open communication and mutual respect. So many marriages fail because "I didn't know." Well, I should have known before I jumped in. I should have asked. I should have listened. I should have been aware of missing pieces of his/her history. I'm responsible for my self, for my happiness, for the vows I make and receive. I am determined that any relationship that I call "Friend" or "Partner" will have a vow with it. Otherwise I'll just have "friends," those who I enjoy with some restrictions of how close they are allowed to be to my core.
We take information lightly, I think. Because our hearts sing we assume that we know everything. 'Tain't necessarily so. We need to be certain that what we promise is spoken with a fully informed decision behind it. We should be clear-headed enough to know that the other is making an honestly conceived commitment. Things will still happen. But less, under those circumstances. At least I hope so.
I hope my future is filled with thoughtfully established relationships, ones that are carefully considered on both sides before the "vow" is spoken. Or blissfully independent ones.
What do you think? What did those messages say to you?