What if the story of the Good Samaritan is about YOU and your personal suffering?
Taken as a whole, The Good Samaritan story can be about your own “inner suffering.” Those nights you are alone and cry yourself to sleep. Your anguish at not being able to achieve your goals, or that nagging addiction part of yourself you have yet to deal with. The worry of bills, the concern for a child…
In the “inner suffering” version of the Good Samaritan, the Jericho Road is a road you walk through your “conscious thoughts.” This road represents the highs and lows of your self. Jerusalem is one end of the road and Jericho is at the other end. Jerusalem is the time when things are beautiful, when you are happy, all is well.
As an example, let’s pretend you are driving home from work. And as you drive you find your thoughts wandering. This wandering is your consciousness walking the road to Jericho. As you meander down the road, thoughts assail you from every side: you encounter wonderful sights, wonderful sounds, you experience the beauty of your future dreams and the artistry of your favorite memories.
And then out of nowhere you are ambushed.
A self criticizing thought, which you hoped not to encounter on your road, has jumped you. And when it happens other self criticizing thoughts pile on, and pile on…and pile on. And those charming memories are now replaced by a fiery torment of self criticism. These robbers of contentment are ruthless. You are cut, slashed, bludgeoned, humiliated, and finally, the part of you that you hide from everyone is nakedly exposed for all to see: your own self hatred.
“I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never get better.” “I can’t have nice things.” “I can’t do anything right.” “Everybody hates me.” “I’m a big ugly failure.” “I hate myself.” You blame yourself for every negative situation. You compare yourself to others who seem successful, so you can put yourself down. You are never satisfied with your achievements. This nauseous dose of self criticism goes on and on.
They are your thoughts after all, so you’ve violently assaulted your self. And now you’re suffering by self criticizing and bullying yourself. No one knows your weaknesses like you do. Only you know how to attack you in the meanest way possible.
Lying alone on the road after being bludgeoned by your own self criticism, it’s clear you need help, but who will help you on your personal road to Jericho?
Well first, Mrs. Distraction walks by: She is so distracted she does not see you on the side of the road. Besides, she would distract you by encouraging you to become a workaholic, to drink alcohol or smoke pot to excess, and spend money you don’t have. It’s clear that Mrs. Distraction will not help you with your naked self hatred.
Mr. Perfection walks by. You think: “If I can be perfect, I’ll never have to beat myself up again.” But alas, no one is perfect. And Mr Perfection becomes a never ending loop of never achieving anything perfectly, which leads you to beat yourself up and self criticize yet again. No help here.
Who comes next along the road in the role of the Good Samaritan to save you from the raw wounds of self hatred?
Your higher self is your Good Samaritan. You must put forth the effort to recognize every moment you self criticize or beat yourself up. Then stop doing it. This will allow for oil and wine to be poured into the wounds of your self hatred. And if you cannot do it alone, you must ask an innkeeper for help. The innkeeper may be another Odd Fellow, a best friend, a therapist, or a supreme being as you define it.
We travel this road dozens of times a day. And on the Jericho Road you must learn to love yourself and to protect yourself. Because by loving yourself, caring for yourself, encouraging yourself, understanding your humanity, you break down the wall that keeps you from loving others. For as many wise mystics have said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You cannot love others or help others if you have hatred for your self, because hatred will be your Conductor.
Love starts with you.
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Scott Moye is an award-winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folklore. He grew up on a cotton, soybean, and rice farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance. He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas, and a founder of Heart In Hand Blog. He currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s available for writing and editing gigs.