The laughable moment of realization that for every life there is a day of reckoning.
How you respond to others often makes the difference in how the things they do for themselves affect your life.
I’m a firm believer in the principle that feeling offended by others is a choice you make. If you allow their words and actions to offend you, and hurt you, you’ve given them far more power over your life than they deserve. Here’s where that principle fails me…
When I love someone, I just love them. I don’t hold back. And I don’t hesitate to open my heart to that person, and yet … there are some people who I probably shouldn’t love, or trust that much. There are people in my life whom I should have built a solid wall of protection between myself and them a long time ago, because they carry fiery darts intent on harm with them frequently. Whether this is a means of protecting their own hearts, or just something they do for kicks and giggles, I’m not sure. I haven’t figured that out yet. And I’m fairly certain they don’t realize how much power they have to hurt others, and I’m almost positive their efforts are based on self inflicted pain, but none of that gives them the right to strike out at others, constantly leaving a wake of injured feelings and abused people in their path.
The lesson I’m learning is that people who are MEAN Spirited, are not that way to injure others. They are mean spirited because they’ve been hurt themselves, and more often than not, they are mean to the people who have never hurt them. Do they perceive themselves to be mean? No, they feel they are somehow defending themselves against the person they’re mean to – as if they need to be defended from that person. Their fear of letting anyone get close to them is responsible for keeping everyone who would befriend them, and be a loyal friend to them, out.
Many years ago, my mom managed a rental property for her sister. The house was small, and the yard was huge, and the people who rented the place had fenced the back portion of the yard. One summer they didn’t pay the rent for several months and finally mom went over with an eviction notice, to find they’d moved most of their ‘stuff’ out of the house and left. But the damage to the house was colossal. We spent several days there cleaning the house.
On the last day, as we polished the floors to a reflective gleam, mom sent me to the back of the yard with a bag of trash and matches. I lit the barrel on fire and as I backed away from the fire, I realized the mound of mangy crap that I’d stepped over was alive, and housed somewhere under all that mass of tangled dog turds was a dog. Barely alive…
I rushed back to the house, grabbed a bowl of water and took it out to the dog, who lifted his head slightly over the edge and sipped at the water from the side of the bowl. Lapping as if he barely could move his tongue, the dog struggled to survive. Mom had followed me out the door and watched, “I don’t think he’s going to make it, but let’s take him to the vet.”
We loaded him into a box and carried him to the truck. I sat in the back with the dog and the box, soothing him as mom drove to the vet, about a mile away. The vet offered the dog some soft food and more water, and took him inside. Mom and I helped to shave the massive amounts of mangy tangles off the dog, and several times as we did, the clippers the vet’s assistant used nipped the dog. Each time, the dog ‘nipped’ me. By the time we were done, I’d been nipped several times and once through the skin, but the dog didn’t seem dangerous, just afraid. The vet kept him overnight, and when my aunt arrived the next day, we went back and picked the dog up.
My uncle had been killed in a mining accident a few months before, and my aunt needed company. She adopted Blondie and that dog became her companion. Over the next several months, Blondie went with her, everywhere she went. ‘Evelyn and Blondie’ were a pair.
Blondie must have been a fairly old dog when she got him, because he never exhibited the bouncy puppy behavior of a puppy, and although he really seemed to like everyone in the family, he was attached to Evelyn. Frequently over the next several years, Blondie would need a haircut as poodles do, and I was often the one chosen to give Blondie his cut. Although I never ever nicked him with the clippers again, he never forgot that first cut, and I would get nipped, or bitten almost every time I trimmed him.
My point is, Blondie wasn’t mean spirited. He genuinely seemed to like everyone, including me. But because of his own instincts, he ‘struck out’ at the one person who had consistently rescued him, first from imminent death, and then from matted masses of poodle fur. The older he got, the more often he would snap at me or bite at me.
I wasn’t his enemy. And yet, he bit at me.
Given the circumstances, I may have actually been his best friend. I saved him from death. I was the one who found Blondie near the burn barrel.
The same is true of people. Sometimes, the people they could actually trust, the people who have literally helped them out the most, accepted them in all their difficulty, are the ones who are hurt the most by mean people. Striking out is a natural response to personal pain. The damage comes from striking out at people who are not the cause of your pain.
If someone strikes out at you – and you’re not the cause of their personal injury, you may be wondering what you can do. A few things, first, and foremost, forgive them. This isn’t for them, it’s for you. You can’t live well and carry a grudge, you MUST forgive them. Then let it go. Let go of the achy breaky heart thing and just accept God’s Grace to fill up the hole in your heart. You don’t have to carry around the pain and hurt, forever, if you give it up to God. He’ll take the pain away and let you live well again. You have to give it to him and let him keep it for you.
Forgive and let it go.