Sunday, July 14, 2013
When Others Wound Us Deeply
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing"
I Thessalonians 5: 11 (ESV)
When the words of others sear my heart, how should I react? This is hard, isn't it?
I want to scream at the other person, "Don't you read your Bible? Don't you know what God has said to you? Don't you know how He said you should treat me?! Note, I said I want to scream. Righteous indignation! Oh yeah! Problem is, I'm not so righteous. I am fallen just like the other person; I sin daily. I fail those around me with my words and actions, or lack thereof. So truthfully, I have no room to take on that tone or attitude.
So then what? When words or actions wound us deeply, how should we proceed? The child who screams, "You let me down" or "I wish you were the one who died," or whatever the heart spills out onto our world. Or what if the grown child decides that you have messed up so badly that you no longer deserve their presence in your life? Or what if, in the heat of the moment, a spouse utters words that sink deep into your heart, words that you cannot un-hear, scarring words?
The bad news is that I am still figuring it out also. But the good news, The Good News, is held by God, the heavenly Father.
The first step I have learned is to breathe, deeply. I tend to take shallow breaths when I am stressed. But I have recently begun to take deeper breaths in those stress-filled moments, and it truly helps. I can feel myself start to calm, fight-or-flight syndrome begins to recede. I can think more clearly. I can decide to keep my mouth shut in order to not "feed the fire" of the accuser.
Second step: seek God. Father-God, Yahweh.
"Our every breath is a murmuring of His name, YWHW. "
Read her post at (http://www.aholyexperience.com/2011/01/how-to-just-keep-breathing-on-a-monday/)
His word is full of instructions for relationship repair and building. Truly, the good news of Jesus Christ is that we were give reconciliation with our Father-God; reconciliation that would otherwise be lost to us is now ours. It can help us find reconciliation with those around us from whom we have fallen for He left us ministry to complete while we live here. And we can guide other souls to reconciliation with God.
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:" 2 Corinthians 5: 18
Third, remember that the person who has hurt you is not your enemy. When your spouse, parent, child, friend, sibling hurts you, they are a fallen human being just like you are.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5: 8
That is it, all of it! That person is not your enemy; Satan is your only enemy, the enemy! Extend to that person the same grace and love you find in your relationship with Father-God. Yes, it is difficult, very difficult. Sometimes we question, "Is it worth it? Do I really need this much pain in my life?" (And I am not speaking of long-term abusive relationships here.)
My husband and I have been open with our church family and other friends that we have struggled throughout our (nearly) twenty year marriage. The first nine years were beyond horrible. Then we FINALLY found a Christian counselor who taught us about unconditional love and grace with one another. He also convinced us that there is no perfect marriage or "happily after ever." Though we worked hard during our time with him, we still struggle at times. We forget our way, we say hurtful things. The only way to keep this marriage alive is to concentrate on loving with God's unconditional and forgiving love. Breathe, seek God, and realize: "he is not my enemy, the devil is." And usually, I have to begin again, breathe, seek God, ....
I asked myself recently what I would say to a dear friend who was facing a traumatic point in her marriage. My husband and I had a particularly ugly argument with words which should not have been uttered. I went for a drive and I thought long and hard about my "friend" who needed advice. (It's mostly easier to love others more than self.) What should I say to her? I have no training in counseling; I certainly am not an expert. I found myself thinking the following:
"breathe deeply and do not rush to make decisions. Guard your heart and tongue. Seek your heavenly Father and have other trusted friends seek Him on behalf of you and your husband."
I reminded myself of what I had learned about unconditional love and grace in marriage. I prayed and then I started towards home. As I drove, I turned on the radio. It was set to my favorite contemporary Christian station. I heard the words I was thinking right at that moment,
"I need You, oh I need You. Every hour I need You. My one defense, my righteousness, oh God how I need You." ~Lord, I Need You -- Matt Maher
I thanked God for His comfort and amazing presence in my life. And I smiled thinking He is with me always. I may be weak and inadequate, but He is strong and He is all I need. Thank you Father!