Monday, June 4, 2012

Feel the love or feel the pain

Last week I wrote about the parable of the unmerciful servant and about forgiveness.  I remember sharing with my small group about forgiving my husband and the difficulty I had had doing this.  I truly wanted to forgive, but at that time I was still feeling pretty darn hurt.  I told my group how I was able to forgive and truly move past the hurt.  The way I did it was a bit unorthodox, but it worked for me.  I told my husband I needed to punch him, hard, in the shoulder a bunch of times or until I thought he was feeling the hurt as bad as I felt I had been hurt.  I told my small group bible study, I believed I punched my husband about 800 times over the span of a couple months.  Then my hand started to hurt and I stopped.  Everyone laughed.  This is a bit exaggerated, but the kernel of the story is true.  I did punch him in the shoulder many times in order to get past the hurt and forgive.  I love my husband and I didn't want the hurting to go on and on.  I wanted to get it over.  This worked for me.  Obviously, from the reaction of my group, this isn't a conventional way to go about forgiveness.  I told my husband it would only hurt for a little while and then I'd be over it.  And, seriously, I don't punch all that hard.

I think the difficulty of being forgiving may have something to do with this desire for the person that hurt you feel as hurt as you do.  I guess some may call this revenge and not forgiveness, but if the retaliation only lasts for a little while and the offender agrees, this may be an ok way to go about it.  I think the key to this is having the offender agree to the retaliation.  I think someone truly looking to be forgiven or someone accepting the responsibility of their actions would agree to something along these lines.  I think it becomes difficult to forgive when the offender doesn't acknowledge their hurtful actions.  This is where it becomes challenging.

For example, if you were in a bible study with church ladies and you shared about a heartbreaking situation in your family, you may be hoping for an outpouring of love and comforting actions.  And, you may get this and even have your name mentioned in the prayer at the end of the study.  After leaving the study, you might think you would get a phone call or email or text or some sort of communication from one or two of the church ladies to see how you are doing.  But, nope... nothing... crickets.  Now, I know, unspoken expectations lead to resentments.  So, here's what you do.  The next meeting of the group you mention you need support during this difficult time in your family.  You would like to get this support from this group.  You don't know exactly what you need, but you know you need to feel the love of Christ.  ('cause right now, you don't)  Again, your name is mentioned in the closing prayer and the rest of the week... crickets.  Live and learn, right?  Maybe you need to skip a week, because the sight of the church ladies is beginning to sicken you.  But, you go back.  You've learned your lesson.  There is no way you are bringing up your heartbreaking family situation, because, you've heard loud and clear, ...they aren't going to be able to be there for you.  Instead, what you hear is a praise report for the members of the youth group visiting a person in jail that came to church one time.  (this feels exactly like salt in a wound)  Aren't our youth wonderful to visit this stranger seeking Jesus, but then, unfortunately, being incarcerated and not able to attend church.  In fact, the group of church ladies wants to encourage the youth and others to continue to visit this fellow and share the love of Jesus.

And you sit there, stunned at the outpouring of love going to a stranger.  And you wonder why there is energy and desire for this stranger, while you sit there, quietly bleeding.  (what's the matter, aren't you over it already?)

You won't be going back.  You've learned that it's easier for them to show love to a stranger than to you.  It hurts.  You don't come back and they don't call you.  (it's been said, christians shoot their wounded)  You want to forgive them, because that is what christians do.  But you want them to hurt, because they hurt you.  You want to tell them they hurt you, but they won't know what you are talking about.  They prayed for you.  What more can they do?  They cannot fix the heartbreaking family situation.  You need to let them off the hook.  Besides, prayer is the best thing they can do.  There is no acknowledgment of hurt.  There is no, "I'm sorry."  There was no "bearing of another's burden."

Don't you wish you could punch them in the shoulder until they hurt like you do?  Then it would be easier to forgive. 

326.  Great re-connection with old friends
327.  Listening to my son share work "war stories" with a kindergarten teacher
328.  Homemade potato salad
329.  Beautiful afternoon with cool breezes sitting on my new deck for the first time
330.  Black forest birthday cake
331.  Watching my son and husband working together to get a big job accomplished


11 comments:

  1. Forgiveness can be so tough.  800 punch tough!

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  2. I guess I wouldn't have thought of physically punching, but I suppose that's an outlet if the other person is willing to endure. 

    I'm glad you've found a new study group that works for you.  

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  3. I grew up with 3 brothers.  

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  4. our expectations and unmet expectations jack us all up...and the thing is we carry those on to the next group often and it just keeps going...but hopefully you are liking your group now...

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  5. Elizabeth StewartJune 4, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Laughing about you punching your Hubs.  Not laughing about the Bible Study ladies, but from years of church experience I can tell you, people will inevitably fall short, I guess that's why we need Jesus.

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  6. Dear Heavenly Father, Please grant that I never offend my dear friend Evie b/c You know better than anyone, Father: I am a big, fat wimp. In Your name I pray, Amen.

    No, seriously. I'm sorry you've been let down, especially by people of the church. And I'm proud of you for getting yourself some new peeps after all that. I'm also proud of you for forgiving your husband...whatever that required.

    Lots of love.

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  7. You are absolutely right.  I need to remember this more often.

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  8. I know what this is like.  I know that for the most part Christians tend to hurt each other because of the unsaid expectations between them.  We expect them to show us more love and more attention than an unbeliever.  Because it's what Christians are supposed to do.  We create these images in our minds about what true Christians look like and what we expect from them.  I have learned ages ago not to expect anything from church ladies.  I concentrate on making friendships and then piling my expectations onto them instead.  ;)  A friend is much more likely to do the actual things we want/expect the bible study people to do.  Many Christians in a bible study are there for a bible study and do not want to really get connected.  This is partially tragedy partially not.  We cannot expect people we barely know to be all up in our lives.  We can hope that people will reach out and the ones that do we can try to befriend.  I personally try to reach out to those I feel I can help or those I am interested in befriending.  The others I just pray for.  I have been in both sides of this kind of bible study equation.  I have been in an excellent bible study where the women were really really there for each other.  They were truly the hands and feet and helped one another.  I give credit to God and to the bible study leader.  That bible study leader set the standard for how us ladies would treat our fellow Christian women.  That kind of study created friendships and I loved it.  I have also been in studies where we were there for general prayer requests, general bible study, and absolutely no outside connections.  Different kinds of studies for different times in our lives.  I've noticed also that Christians are so about being "right" they forget the true messages of Christ.  They punch their time-cards into the "actions" of Christianity.  They publicly help the missionary or prison ministry.  They join in with group prayer.  They do the things people can see.  Do they do the things only God can see?  Do they reach out to the hurting person in their bible study when no one is watching?  Well many times not.  I hate this about Christians.  Christian people who say all the right things and do all the socially accepted tasks many a time do not truly live like Christ.  They wear the outfit of Christianity without doing the very things only God sees.  It is a lesson for us all because we need to notice when we are doing things that other Christians see for approval and when we are doing things for the Lord for His approval.  Wow.  Long comment.  Sorry.  xoxo

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  9. This post really struck a nerve with me.  We do a great job of pouring out love to strangers because it's largely impersonal and doesn't stress our boundaries.  But, the soccer mom who sits next to us at bible study?  The one whose marriage is falling apart because she's hooked on her kid's ADHD meds?  That gets MESSY.  So, we ignore it.

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  10. You heard me loud and clear.  :)

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