Ask Joey: Mind the gap

Joey Garcia

My dad sends me clippings from your advice column, with key pieces of your advice underlined, such as, “People are imperfect. Few can see where their need to control, manipulate and appear ‘good’ infects their words or actions,” and, “Try focusing on the ways love transforms you.” I am a 24-year-old single female. But my dad is the last person to give love advice. He’s only been in one relationship his entire life. How do I get him to stop? It’s embarrassing to have a dad who sends you columns and newspaper clippings about relationships and love. Advice, please.

Oh, sweetie! It’s only embarrassing because you fear he is right, that there is something wrong with you or the way you behave. The truth is every one of us has shortcomings. Each one of us has unconscious spaces in our minds that are triggered when we least expect it. It’s these dark gaps, our shadows, that inspire us to be unkind in word or action. Knowing this is freedom.

Awareness allows us to change and to offer compassion to others who behave as if they are separate from the human family. So please don’t fear being seen by your father. Transparency is essential on the spiritual path (and we are all on a spiritual path, whether or not we accept that reality). Let yourself soften. Open your mind and heart. See if you can learn something new about yourself by exploring the column phrases your dad underlines. Try not to judge his relationship history. Explore your own.

Still invested in resistance? Consider this: If you were not worried about how you appear to others, you would meet your father’s mementos from this column with a shrug. Or you would feel a surge of sweet joy from your heart to head because receiving the newspaper clippings reminds you of his love for you. He may express it differently than you would, but that’s just being human, right?

One last thing. Let me confess that I have two major lifelong romantic relationships—with God and with myself. The other romantic relationships in my life have been with men that I dated, one of whom I married and, nine years later, divorced. Some of these men are now among my dearest friends. That’s right—my experience with love and relationships has been as perfect for me as your father’s is for him. Trust your own path.

I have a female friend of six years, and she is one of my best friends, so much so that I’ve considered dating her for a long time.

You don’t have a relationship question, honey. You have an unclear philosophy about life. Without values, principles or a commitment to pursue a higher truth, you lack direction. Without a sense of calling or connection to something greater than yourself, you will always stumble when life invites you to step into the unknown. And love is the unknown, a great risk and a beautiful mystery.

If what you are reading begins to stir something deep within you, try this: Take a hike somewhere quiet in the natural world. Find a place to sit undisturbed for a while. Center yourself with meditation or a prayer. Then journal answers to the following questions: Who am I? What is my work? Who is God to me? Who is my life partner? The answers you pen are not definitive. You are, after all, constantly changing and always more than can be imagined, just like everyone else on the planet. But the responses you write offer a beginning to your compass-making process. It is a lifelong endeavor and one that provides a foundation for your existence and decision making. Enjoy your delicious adventure into the internal world!

Meditation of the week
“If we desire a peaceful world, that will be the result of today’s work,” says Fethüllah Gulen, a Muslim scholar and activist. What are you doing today to ensure that the poorest people in this world will suffer less, or not at all, tomorrow?

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