Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Good morning and Happy Hump Day!
It's very dank in the NYC today. It's the kind of weather outside where it's not quite raining...more like spitting. You know, not enough precipitation to warrant an umbrella, but enough to annoy you. Yeah, it's like that outside today.
Maybe the weather is contributing to my mood, which I am working hard to change as I type. When something is weighing heavy on my mind, I tend to over-think, over-analyze and over-react. To get over this, I re-read Serena's blog about "Letting Go Of Yesterday," and I also re-read some inspirational passages she sent me. One of them says, "He who angers you controls you." How true. I've decided to take control back.
While I feel that I am a positive person and a good friend, I know that I am FAR from perfect in that area. I've had friends that have been my aces for over 15 years, and I have some who have been in my life a short time by comparison. I've had to apologize to ALL of them many times for things that I've done and things that I haven't done. When I value a friendship, the last thing I want to do is be responsible for hurting someone's feelings.
I've been told on many occasions that I am too sensitive. I can accept that in a lot of cases. But in most cases, it wasn't that I was reacting because I was too sensitive, but rather I was reacting because someone else was INsensitive. One thing I try to never do, especially where my friends are concerned, is dismiss their feelings. After all, feelings are feelings...and we can't always help when we're overcome by them. Even if I never intended to hurt someone, even when I have a perfectly good explanation for why they feel the way they do and yes, even when I think that they may be just a little too sensitive, I apologize for the hurt feelings they have anyway.
Last week I told you of a friend who hurt my feelings. Yesterday, that same friend told me that I didn't see how I was at fault for my hurt feelings. I'm not sure which hurts more, the hurt feelings...or the dismissal of those hurt feelings. It's like being slapped on the cheek, only to turn my face so that they can slap the other one. Instead of helping me understand or saying, "I'm sorry you feel that way"(even though she didn't mean to hurt me), she blamed me for how I felt. Wow.
Some see an apology as an admission of wrong doing. For me, most times an apology is simply an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of someone else's feelings. That is all most of us really want - for someone to acknowledge how we feel. It's not hand holding, it's not catering and it's not beneath us. I will never be so full of myself to the point where I can never acknowledge a friend's feelings...no matter how big or small, wrong or right. If I love you, I will always care how you feel, and I will never blame a friend for feeling the way they do - whether I caused it or not. It's not about blame. In playing the blame game, we shift our own shortcomings to others and give ourselves opportunities to forgive the faults we can't bear to look at in ourselves.
I've decided to let it go. He who angers you controls you. Serena's blog reminds me that living in the past will only imprison me in the present, keeping me from moving forward. So it's squashed. Life shows us how to live and love by example. But it also teaches us by sending us relationships that challenge us to be loving. Our most difficult relationships offer us our greatest opportunities to grow in wisdom and openheartedness.
The difficulty we have in forgiving is underscored by the fact that we often would rather feel bad than forgive. Iyanla Vanzant says that "forgiveness (and letting go) is a pain reliever." It frees those who forgive, and it is the forgiver who benefits most. Serena sent me a Key Thought and a Prayer to pray, which I have done and will share. Both say:
Jesus' words draw us to the values of our Heavenly Father. Rather than passively accepting evil, we are to overcome evil with good. We are to work redemption in the face of mistreatment like the suffering servant in Isaiah who suffers, serves, and redeems in the face of attack and ridicule. Jesus reminds us that we are to redeem rather than to try to get even. A slap on the cheek in Jesus' day was more a social insult than a physical injury. In our day, we seldom slap someone on the cheek to embarrass or humiliate that person. Instead, we shoot them a "zinger," cut them down sarcastically, or tell a joke at their expense. This is out of bounds for believers. Such talk does not accomplish the redemption God has called us to share with others.
Holy and patient Father, please strengthen me so that I will look for ways to redeem those who shame and humiliate me. I know that vengeance will only poison my heart and alienate me from the insulting party. Give me grace to react with kindness even toward those who are unkind to me. In the name of the one who did not rebuke his accusers I pray.
All is forgotten, all is forgiven. I've let go, let God, and I have my control back. Thank you Serena!