Being Spiritual Doesn’t Always Mean Being Nice

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be spiritual. One, is that spiritual people are always nice. Not true. Learn more in this brief video message.

Video Transcript

My mother and father, whom I love very much (My father has passed on. My stepfather is in a nursing home at the moment.) My mother and my father both had a quick temper. And my dad was a very charming guy, some of you met him…He came to Lincoln Center years ago…a very easy going, friendly man, very sociable…But he had a temper and you would see it in the law office sometime. I remembered once he got so mad, he just vibrated every part of him…because that interrogatory was not filed on time or that motion was not done on time. And later on I realized that yeah, I can see how you can get upset about that …but, man, he would get angry…

And years later I realized, ah, good way to control people. If you get angry, people will start to shut up and maybe back down and start to go with your point of view because they get afraid. You know, okay, alright, whatever, yeah, sure, let’s do that. And so, I learned growing up…and my step-father is very calm and very easy going and he learned how to keep peace…you know, okay, yeah, let’s keep peace…and consequently I learned how to do (something) very similar.

So, I was raised to sort of keep the peace, to be calm and sort of go along. I needed to do that to survive, to deal with whatever I had to deal with. Then, a number of years ago I moved to New York and started to realize that there are some not very nice people in the world. I mean it’s true in the South too, but it’s kept a lot more quiet, and a little more…apparently I somehow avoided all those people…and came to New York and suddenly had to deal with some not nice people.

There are some very nice people here in New York, but you see…don’t get me wrong, I am talking…I am not saying…I’m just saying that down South it was well hidden and maybe I was very sheltered. I came to New York and people very vocal about whatever…a lot of people…and I happened to come in touch with some of those people…who were in my face…and I didn’t really know how to deal with that. And I am still learning how to deal with that.

But what I learned years ago is that it’s okay to experience my humanness, the anger, the fear, the sadness, the whatever, the lust…whatever…yeah the minister just said lust…whatever is there, but not necessarily express it. Besides, you know, and when I’d go home, I’d go home for 3 – 5 days…and the anger would start to build up. And my parents just loved to hold me to that expectation…They would introduce me to everybody, “Meet my son, the minister.” “Here is my son the minister.” You know, my dad, Robert Epstein would introduce me. “Here, meet my son, the minister.” They didn’t know what to say about that. But there were expectations around that.

So, at home, I was expected to be calm and gentle and kind, and be the minister. And I wanted to be the example also. You know, there is a little stigma about being a minister. And then get on the spiritual path, which I did 20 years ago…and so now that natural, easy going, let’s keep the peace…now I have the stereotype of being a minister on top of it…

And you know how people hold ministers…oh, he is supposed to be…you know, or…she is supposed to…And a few years ago I realized, you know, I can’t go home and hold in all this anger and frustration. It’s not good for me and it’s coming out one way or the other, I’m sure…You know, in little, subtle ways…We think we can hide it…It comes out.

So, about 5 weeks ago, or 6 weeks ago, I went home with my new attitude…been driving 9 hours on the road…9 hours on the road, I come home…by the way I asked my mother yesterday if I could share the story. She said, you can tell anything you ever want to tell. You don’t need my permission. She’s a cool lady. Isn’t she a cool lady? But she does have a temper.

So, after 9 hours of driving, I go in, right away, the subject of my stepfather…You know, I have been handling the nursing home, the rehab stuff. What are we going to do? Is he going to come home? Is he going to get care coming home? Is he going to stay there? Is he going to go somewhere else? La la la…I get home and that subject starts coming up and I’m not liking what I’m hearing from my mother. My anger is starting to…and she can hear it in the tone of my voice …Now I’m controlling it. I’m just trying to have a reasonable conversation but my temperature is rising. And like no one else can, my mother looks at me and puts a big smile on her face and she says, “Is that what meditation is doing for you?” Like only a close relative can do. She would never say that to anybody else, except her minister son.

And I got so angry. And I expressed it. I said, “I am going to get in the car right now , turn around and go all the way back home.” Oh, she got all quiet. She got all…I threw in a few choice words in there too, I am sure….none of which I’d repeat right now…But her eyebrows raised up…The minister son…She quieted down. She became receptive, started to talk sweetly. I went down the hall and went into…you know, down the hall into what used to be my stepfather’s apartment. And she wanted to know, “Are you okay?” “Are you upset with me?”

But something I’m learning, the first time you might share calmly, like passing the salt, that someone is breaking a boundary…And then the next time, you might express some anger, to really set the boundary…that maybe that’s okay to do.

Someone quoted Albert Ellis to me saying that anger is a frustration of assertiveness…something of that nature. You know, so being authentic means that you don’t a

lways show up nice.

Heaven knows Jesus Christ wasn’t nice all the time. You know, he goes into the temple with a whip of cords and chases the money changers out of that temple. Now, can you imagine people sitting at their desk, they are making money and they got all this money going on in there and he drives them out of that temple. He didn’t go in and say, “Hey boys and girls, let’s pack up and go.” He must have whipped that cord…And he wouldn’t heal everybody either who wanted to be healed. There was a lady who wanted healing. He didn’t heal her.

Being spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean being nice. Being who you are, accepting all of who you are, feeling worthy in yourself,, there is healing.

When I asked my mother yesterday, if I could share that story, she said, go ahead, Justin, I love it when you’re feisty. That’s a new side that she doesn’t see all the time. “I like it when you are feisty.” Well, my mom is going to love me a lot more when I come home now.

Why hold it in? Draw a boundary or two.