OK, everyone has a story of someone who hurt them. A friend, associate, church, spouse, or whatever, stabbing you in the back, and digging the knife in deep. An ultimate betrayal. Right? When hurt, what can one do? Really? I find two main ways people tend to deal with offenders.
They either DWELL and FAIL or GIVE and LIVE. Sometimes there's some middle ground between the two. Often, however, middle ground dissipates within the walls of troubled hearts. People tend to migrate to one of these two opposites.
DWELL & FAIL
1. When an offense assails us, it's natural to process it. Processing can be a healthy self-examination of circumstances surrounding an event. Questions helpful to consider are:
2. However, often the initial processing of a painful event can turn into dwelling repeatedly upon the offense.
Here's the thing. Continual rehearsing an offense can take one down deep into anger and bitterness. It can keep one down longer than ever imaged. And, it causes more distress not less. I know after speaking with many wounded people over the years. And, to some degree, I speak from experience myself.
3. In the end, dwelling continually on an offense assures failure.
Bitter nasty grumpy people are often the result of dwelling and failing. Dwell and fail retells an incident within one's soul ad nauseam. The actual offense becomes a slaying giant rather than just an incident itself. In the end, you're alone in your own misery as people distance themselves from your war within.
GIVE & LIVE
Give and Live slays bitterness and anger over offenses committed against us. I must admit, I am not as good at this as I'm writing. Yet, I'm improving all the time! Just a few thoughts.
1. IT HAPPENS! -- GET OVER IT!
Yes, you were treated badly. Perhaps, unlikely, the offense was 100% the fault of another. Moving forward in your journey, requires one to look past faults. A wise old King once said, "Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs."
2. Learn to return evil with good. Good is the greatest weapon against evil ever employed to defeat evil.
After WWII, Germany lay in ruins. Almost 20% of the German population died, and city after city laid waste. In 1947 the European Recovery Program or Marshall Plan began. It was through this most generous approach from conquerors towards the vanquished that rebuilt Germany into arguably the European economic powerhouse that it is today. Perhaps the best approach offered towards an adversary is to do as the ancient saying says, "Heap coals of kindness on your enemy's head."
3. FORGIVING is not only desired, but MANDATED.
IN FACT, for a Christian, IT'S DEMANDED
During our many years in South Africa, I developed a friendship with a Zulu man much older than me. Simon was his name. One day, we walked down the dirt road in his crowded neighborhood. As we passed a certain house, Simon pointed saying,"You see that house? In that house is the man who murdered my son right before my very eyes." The pain in Simon's eyes as he told his story is still fresh in my eyes almost thirty years later.
Simon often shared the pain of the event, the bitterness in his heart, his deep desire to exact revenge, and his hatred for the man. One day as we met, the narrative changed drastically. Earlier in the week, Simon approached the house of his son's murder. Knocking on the door several times, no one answered the door. Simon knew, however there were people inside the home.
After several attempts of door knocking, Simon went to the side window. He called out, "I just want you to know today; this very day, I've decided to offer you forgiveness for killing my son. As the eldest male of my clan, I declare that no harm from my family will ever come your way. This forgiveness is offered to you if you choose to accept it." And, that began the healing process between family at mortal odds with each other. The next week the two families attended church together.
Have your ever given thanks for that person in your life? What? Thanks? Not for that person! Never!
GIVE THANKS! "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them." 1 Timothy 2:1
GIVE & LIVE or DWELL & FAIL.
The choice is mine, yours, and ours.
Just My Thoughts
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.