July 16, 2012

act justly, love mercy, walk humbly...

*Lindsay Jordan says:  But the thing that has been on my mind lately is forgetting and forgiving.   I am not the forgiving  type. I still feel I will do something regrettable if I ever ...

First, let me say, your momma had the personality of a lion when someone she loved was treated unfairly.   She wanted to pounce, bite back, be protective, and there are good and bad qualities in that.  The loyalty part is great.  The vengeance part, not so much.

Second, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to do a good, thorough evaluation of yourself.  On paper.  Write down all your faults, everything about yourself that isn't perfect.  Keep a running list and add to it.*  The things you've done wrong.  The lies you've told.  The times you have cheated or stolen or gossiped or made fun of someone less fortunate than you ... very "My Name is Earl" like.  Make your list.  I dare you to find a single area of ugliness where you aren't guilty on SOME level.  I did this several years back and was SHOCKED to discover that I'm not actually perfect.  (Unbelievable, huh?)   See, I always thought I was a "good girl", which made it pretty easy to sit back and feel self-righteous and judge others and hold on to some false sense of self-worth.  But a good self-evaluation will do wonders to make you feel pretty rotten about yourself, and THAT serves two purposes:  
1) It gives you an honest starting point to work on your own integrity, 
2) it helps you be more compassionate to others. 

We're all a mess, Lin.  Every single one of us.  People aren't mean and hurtful on purpose (okay, SOME are, but it's because THEY have been hurt so badly the only thing they know is to lash out and hurt others), but all of us need the same thing:  to be loved and accepted.  And we all live in fear that people will find out who we really are, and we WON'T be loved and accepted. 

And there is nothing more painful than someone promising to love you forever, and then choosing not to.

A couple of weeks ago I sat in on a class on justice, and our response to people who hurt us (or those we love).  We have two responses:
1) We can seek vengeance.  Seek to hurt them right back.  Seek to 'make them pay'. Talk ugly about them.  Rally people on our side.  (And, really, what good does this do anybody?
2) We can let it go.  We can ignore their injustice.  We can walk away and feel like the bigger person.  (But does this really accomplish anything either?

How about a third choice?

3)  We can seek to bring about CHANGE.  This is the hardest option, but the only one that makes a difference in the end.  It requires kindness, confrontation, and love.  TALK to the offender ... not to accuse, but to be honest.  To say how you feel about what they did.  To help them see that their actions were hurtful.  It may not "fix" what happened, but it very well might help them grow.

Parenting example:  A child steals something from a store, and the parent finds out.  The parent can:
1)  Blow up.  Yell, scream, punish.  This makes the child feel intimidated, unloved and worthless.  It makes the child want to defy the parent, and teaches the child that getting caught must be avoided at all cost.
2)  Ignore it.  The parent can pretend not to know, or worse yet, act like it's no big deal.  The child learns that selfishness pays off and that there are no consequences for his actions... which is NOT true in adulthood.
3) Confront to help them grow.  Talk to the child.  Ask why.  Ask the child how he would feel if something was stolen from him.  Explain that being selfish is not how we choose to live.  Make the child return the item and apologize... and even work off the offense in some additional way.  The child learns there ARE consequences, but that he is loved and expected to live up to his potential. 

Bottom line:  Hate breeds more hate.  Avoidance breeds animosity.  Love, bigger than yourself, changes your world, one relationship at a time.

You may not be the "forgiving type", but thank God we all have the chance to grow and change and become better every day.   Never stop growing and changing.  

You have the ability to change your world. 

* I use Galatians 5:19-20 NLT as a guideline.