#Write31Days – Post 8 – Unacknowledged Hurt

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Have you ever had someone hurt your feelings, and no matter how you try to address it with the person… they just won’t own it.    They may try to blame you for the issue, or even shift blame by giving you the “if you didn’t ___, then I wouldn’t have ___” excuse.  You may have even apologized for the things you did in the situation that were wrong, and yet the other person is incapable of even acknowledging their part in the problem.

Unacknowledged hurt, hurts.  It really does.  And, I have found, the longer that it goes unacknowledged the more it hurts.   Whether you have been quietly waiting for the apology or out right demanded one is totally moot, because you are not going to get one either way.  Some people are totally incapable of admitting to their wrongdoing.

In my opinion, it boils down to one of three options:

1. Victim Mentalityvictimmentality

The victim won’t admit to being wrong, because they are incapable of doing so.   They have a skewed perception of reality, and will even project guilt onto you that is actually rooted in someone who previously abused, mistreated, or took advantage of them.  You end up paying the price because of harm that someone else had done long before this situation.  The more people who mistreated them, the more victimized they become.  The more victimized they become, the more they will see everyone out in the world is out to get them.  They are unable to see anyone through an objective lens, unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt  or accept that they may have hurt you. 

2.  Martyr Complexmartyrcomplex

Martyr’s are a bit different than victims because they WANT to be a victim, or at least appear like one.  It’s not that they are incapable of knowing that they hurt you, they just don’t want to bear the responsibility of owning it.  So, they PLAY the victim in order to garner sympathy from others outside of the situation.  They also want you to feel bad, like it is your fault, and bear not only the brunt of the blame … but to do all the work to repair things with them.  Which usually means that you will go above and beyond to try and make things right.  The martyr knows that they were wrong, in whole or part, but you will never hear an admission or acknowledgment from them.

3.  Haughty or Prideful Heart haughtyhaughty

The prideful person actually believes that they are totally innocent of any wrong doing, but not like a victim.  On the contrary, the prideful person is always right and everyone else is always wrong.  This has nothing to do with past experiences or victimization, but instead is a heart issue.  If you are hurt, that is YOUR issue… they did nothing wrong.  You are either too sensitive, have no right to be hurt, were the one who was wrong, etc.  And, the thing is, they totally believe this.  It’s different than the person who knows they are at fault (or at least partially at fault) and tries to pass the blame.  The prideful person truly believes they are totally innocent of any wrong doing what so ever.

The victim will usually make you feel horrible for hurting their feelings, so that you will bend more toward their sensitivities.  The martyr wants everyone else to see how they suffered and how terrible you treated them.  The haughty person would rather walk way from you in their “rightness” than admit to being wrong and try to do the right thing.  But, what is really interesting to me is that there are some people who are mixture of all three.  I didn’t realize it until I wrote this piece, so I suppose there is a fourth category.

There are those who are so certain they are right, that they will put all the blame on you. (Pride)

They will also make sure you feel absolutely terrible about hurting them, even if you are the one who was hurt.  (Victim)

And, they will make sure the whole world knows what you did to them and how you treated them so poorly.  (Martyr)

So what do you do, when you have been hurt…

… and the other person in never going to acknowledge that hurt?

  1.  Pray for clarity over the situation.  Is this a relationship that is otherwise healthy and this is just a particular situation, or is this a toxic relationship and this behavior is repetitive?  Is it time to let this relationship go, or is there restoration possible now or in the future?
  2.  Pray for forgiveness.  Pray for God to forgive you in the areas you failed in the relationship, and then ask God to help you forgive the other person.  Forgiving the other person will be freeing for you, as you will no longer be captive to their dysfunction or the situation any longer.
  3. Pray for discernment.  We usually can not just entirely remove a person from our life.   It may be a family member, a coworker, someone we attend church with, or part of a circle of friends.  Pray that God will help you determine what kind of boundaries you can put in place to protect yourself.  This may mean removing yourself from that person entirely, but it may be a few key decisions that help keep the person at a safe distance.
  4. Pray for healing.  You can cry out to God about your hurt and pain, and ask for Him to heal you.  His healing is not dependent on their acknowledgement of wrong.  His healing can help you move on, more forward, despite their inability to be accountable and reconcile the relationship.

Regardless of their ability to acknowledge the hurt they caused has no bearing on your right to call it what it is.  You can be frank with them, making sure they understand in no uncertain terms that they have hurt you (and perhaps even identifying the level of hurt).  You can choose to draw a line in the sand that can not be crossed until they are willing to acknowledge the hurt they caused.  It’s totally appropriate to do so in a manner that is straightforward without being catty, disrespectful, or mean. 

You can acknowledge the hurt.

God will acknowledge your hurt.

Together, God will help you move beyond it to greater things.

Stop thinking and caring so much about a person, who was able to not only hurt you so deeply… but who didn’t care enough to try and make it right.

 

 

 

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#Write31Days – Post 1 – Loving Your Enemy

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I think we have all been there, at one point or another, where someone has stepped over the line.  They have hurt us too many times, and we have to step away from that relationship (romantic, friendship, business).  Even though the relationship was unhealthy, we can recognize that their intentions were not bad.  They didn’t mean to hurt us, they were reckless with their words or actions, or maybe they just don’t conform to societal norms and honestly can’t help themselves.  These are people that we can appreciate the memories we made with them, forgive them for their wrongs… at the same time as we are moving away to a safer distance.

Occasionally though, we will encounter a bonafide ENEMY.  This is a person who is intentionally against you.

  • The man or woman who is attempting to break up your marriage.
  • The boy/girlfriend who is trying to isolate your child from the family.
  • The coworker who is trying to sabotage your job or chance of promotion.
  • The neighbor who is trying to scare you out of the neighborhood.
  • The person who serves with you in ministry, that is vying for your position.
  • The competitor that is stealing your customers & trying to shut you down.
  • The person who is stirring up strife & trying to divide your church.

And these, are just a few examples of real life enemies who are working hard to make your life miserable.  When you are dealing with a unhealthy relationship, it is easy to be kind to that person. Because, you actually care about them despite the need for distance.   The scriptures, in Ephesians 4, instruct us to be kind to one another.    However, this is a much harder process  when it comes to the intentional enemy.  How can you be kind and forgive someone who is purposefully working against you?

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The scriptures have a lot to say about being kind to one another, forgiving each others offenses, even the steps of conflict resolution when you have something against your brother. 

What are some practical steps you can take, to love your enemy?

#1 – You Pray & Forgive Them

Mark 11:25

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Note, that in the verse, it says if you have ANYTHING against ANYONE.  This means we are called to forgive not just some people, or some offenses, but all.  ANY thing.  ANY one.  In this particular prayer, we are not praying for THEIR sake.   We are praying for OUR OWN.  We are forgiving in the measure in which we want to be forgiven.  We are praying for peace and freedom in our own life from this situation or person.  

#2 – Do Good To Your Enemies

Luke 6:27

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.

While revenge may be tempting, even letting them fall to ruin in their own devices may sound good… it’s not what God would want us to do.  My grandmother would advise me, when dealing with mean kids, to kill them with kindness.  This is actually similar to the scripture in Proverbs 25:  If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you. (verses 21,22)

When we are kind to our enemy, we give them no just cause for their words or behavior.  Others will see that we have done nothing but kindness, and know that we are undeserving of our enemy’s disdain.  Eventually, the enemy will reveal themselves to everyone around them as being the real culprit.  They will be known for their misdeeds.  We do not need to retaliate, we don’t need to help that revelation process along the way by intentionally not helping or setting them up for failure.  No.  We just simply go on about our day IN SPITE of their behavior.  We continue to be nice and helpful to them, regardless if they deserve our help or not.

The miracle that can happen, is you may end up finding out that your enemy is a person who is suffering.  They don’t understand kindness.  They don’t understand love or compassion.  When you model it for them, it may make them uncomfortable, but in the end…. you may become the person they trust.  Your enemy may share with you their struggles, and give you the opportunity of wise counsel and leading your enemy to the Cross.

#3 – Intercede on Their Behalf

Acts 7: 60

And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Most people who are just outright mean, were not born that way.  They have had a life time of experiences and circumstances that have shaped who they have become.  There will be some who literally know no other way of behaving, this is normal to them.  Dysfunction is part of how they were raised and relate to others.

I once spoke of a woman I worked with, as others were complaining about her behavior, saying:  “I truly think she is clueless.  I don’t think she has bad intentions, I think she’s totally unaware of the wake she leave behind.”.  This was a woman that many had a difficult relationship with.  It would be easy to cast her as an enemy, she always seemed out to get everyone.  As I got to know her better, I realized she lived in a home that was highly competitive.  Everyone had to fight for their right to simply exist in that home.  She was loud, to be heard.  She was pushy, to get what she needed.  It has nothing to do with us or the job.  But, she was totally unaware that she was misbehaving. 

Coming to this realization, makes it a bit easier to pray that God will forgive that person … because (as Jesus said) they know not what they do.

However, for the person who is totally aware of their misdoings… we can still ask for God’s forgiveness over their actions & words.  We do it from a place of ultimate love, knowing that if they continue down the road they are traveling, they could end up in a final destination that is far from God.  We know that it is God’s desire that NONE shall perish.  So we pray, not because they deserve it… but because they NEED IT. 

I don’t deserve what Christ did for me on the Cross.  Like Paul said, of the sinners I am the worst.  If Christ died for me, He also died for my enemy.  Until they know Him, and have been changed by Him, I can pray on their behalf.

A Word of Caution:  Just because you have forgiven them, have chosen to be kind to them and even helpful to your enemy, and elect to pray on their behalf…. this does not mean you have to submit yourself to their cruelty.   Loving your enemy doesn’t mean you invite them into your home, share your personal details with them, and treat them as if they were your best friend.  You can do all three of these things, at an arm’s length.  Boundaries are absolutely appropriate in this case, to protect yourself from their venom.

 

There Are Some Things You Simply Can’t Fix

fabricrip

My husband and I were talking the other day, about friendships and just relationships in general.  Sometimes we mess up, we say things we shouldn’t have even though we were joking.  Or, we speak into a person’s life when we have no authority to do so…. or at least were not invited to share our opinions.  Sometimes the person is carrying emotional baggage and is extra sensitive & you were unintentionally careless with your words.

In situations like this, my husband and I can recognize we messed up.  We even try to fix it and make it better.   But, unless the other person is just as invested in the relationship… it’s going to be a one sided battle.  And no matter what you do, how many times you apologize, how many different ways to try to repair it… you can’t fix it alone.  It won’t matter if you saw it coming and tried to be proactive, or if the damage is done and you are trying to repair… you can’t force the other person to value the friendship like you did.  Repair and reconciliation must be something both people want and are willing to work toward.

And, if the other person doesn’t want it…. you have to be able to let it go and move on with your life.   You learn from it, grow from it, and become (hopefully) a better person from that experience.

Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Only God can soften someone’s heart, once they have hardened it.  Only the Holy Spirit can move them and convict them into the path of reconciliation.  But through Jesus, we can pray for that person.  Because of Jesus, we can extend copious amounts of forgiveness and grace…. and ask for the same in return.  We can confess our wrongs to Jesus, and seek His forgiveness, even when others have become unforgiving.

And we can have hope that reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ will happen, it just may not happen on this earth.  But, we will be reconciled in Heaven as a body of believers.  And then, as we are celebrating together, whatever it is was that separated us will be like grains of sand at the bottom of the deepest ocean.

BOOK REVIEW: Unoffendable by Brant Hansen

genawhat

I have always considered myself an even-keeled person.  In general, I don’t get offended easily.  I try to give the benefit of the doubt to people.  So I might ask, “What’s the big deal?” or “Why are you getting so mad about that?”.  I might even play devils advocate a bit to try and understand the other side’s point of view before I get upset.  There may even be times where I don’t agree with a person, but I also accept they are entitled to their opinion or feelings on an issue.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize there on only a few things that can offend me.

1) Outright, purposeful attacks on a person.

2)  The misuse of the Word of God.

That all said, I admit that I get angry about a lot of things.  I just generally try not to hold onto that anger for very long.  I know it’s not healthy.  I also know… I am probably wrong.

Once my husband said something that really upset me.  Funny thing was that even though I was upset, I knew I shouldn’t be.  He recognized all the signs that I was upset and tried to mend it.  I admitted to him:

I am mad.  But, I am not entirely sure I should be mad at you.  So give me some time to simmer down, and then we’ll talk more.   If we do this now, I’ll probably say something dumb and not very helpful.”

I think I surprised him with my candidness, but truthfully I wasn’t sure I should be mad at him.  I was trying to handle the situation with wisdom, in spite of being angry.  It worked too, because about 30 minutes later, you betcha… I was not angry any more.  We laughed about it and moved on.

But, anger doesn’t always work that way.  Once, a friend said something that offended me.  I called her on it, because this wasn’t the first time she had been careless with her words.  I tried to give her an opportunity to clarify her point, in case I was misunderstanding her.  But, I wasn’t.  I was hurt.  I was offended (it was a #2 situation).  I was angry.  I won’t deny my initial response.

I also wasn’t surprised by it.  I had seen this coming, and made some effort to try and derail it but she never wanted to discuss it with me.  When I called her on her behavior, she just stopped talking to me.  After many attempts to try and rectify it, I gave up.  That was when I got a letter in the mail from her.  A multi-page letter that wasn’t exactly accurate & frankly tore me to shreds.  I was again hurt, angry and offended (this time it was a #1 situation).

And even then, I tried to give the benefit of the doubt.  I still tried to repair & reconcile, but she wasn’t receptive.  She had shut me out.  And that was when I decided that I just couldn’t be angry anymore.  Instead, I was going to pray for her, every time I felt that hurt well up again, I would pray for her.  Things were going ok, until I came across the letter when cleaning out my desk.  I thought I had thrown it away.

I was tempted to read it again.  I knew that it wouldn’t be healthy, and so…. I set it on fire.

letterfire

I really try not to hold on to anger, but sometimes I just can’t.  Even without reading it, all of those emotions came back to the surface again.  A fire consumes everything around it, and so does anger.  When we get angry, when we are angry people, that anger will consume everything around us.  I realized that day, as the paper went  up in flames, she was an angry person.  This anger was deeper than what ever I could have said to upset her.  Again, I knew that God would want me to be praying for her.  So, I did… as the flames reduced the paper to ash… my anger was reduced to compassion.

You may be wondering why I am bringing this up, if I healed from it, and what this has to do with a book review….

Good question… and a great book.  Brant Hansen wrote a terrific book called “Unoffendable”, and let me tell you it has everything to do with the story I just shared.  And so much more.

unoffendable2

His words, thoughts, on the subject of anger in this book… were SPOT on.

First, I had to spend sometime thinking about myself.  How many times I have gotten angry at a person for doing the very things (or similar) that I myself am guilty of.  I was angry at my friend for being careless with her words, but I know there have been times I am guilty of that too.  With my spouse?  My kids?  That person who cut me off in traffic?

unoffend1

I also recalled that my friend was angry, a lot… about a lot of things.  Remember how I stated that I recognized that her anger was deeper than whatever it was I could have said to upset her.    I think that when you have lived a tough life, you will begin to believe you have the right to be angry about everything that is done to you.  Perhaps you didn’t feel like you were allowed to be angry at those who hurt you as a child, or in a previous relationship.  You may begin to think that you have empowered yourself by expressing anger towards anyone who upsets you in the future.  You may feel justified in this anger, but the scriptures have a LOT to say about being angry, holding on to anger, and inflicting others with our anger.

 unoffend3

But, in the end… we have only cast ourselves as victims.  We never own our part in a conflict, because we have convinced ourselves that we are right, and have a right to be angry.  Even though the scriptures clearly call us to forgive and to reconcile.

unoffend2

I took these pictures as I was reading the book, because they were just such strong points, I wanted to share them with my friends and family on facebook.  Guess, what… I am not the only one who needed to learn a thing or two.

unoffendable

And a few more sentiments like that followed, so yes… a hundred times repeated… I think anyone would benefit from reading this book.  It’s written pretty straight forward, and if you have ever heard Brant on the radio…  you will hear his voice in your head as you read.  It’s a little unsettling at first, ha, but I just rolled with it.

Seriously though, it is well written and thought out.  It reads, in some ways, like a conversation.  I would find myself stopping after a paragraph or a few pages, shouting out “YES!” or “THIS IS SPOT ON”… and a few times “I am such an idiot.”  Then I would sit back in my chair and let Brant continue on sharing how being unoffendable, getting rid of anger and forgiving people is freeing.  Not just for specific situations, but for life in general.  Because, it becomes a part of your daily life. You simply decide to NOT be offended.  Ever. Again.  You are not going to hold on to anger.  Any. More.

… and you are going to forgive.  More. Than. Ever.

* The book “Unoffendable” was given to me by Family Christian for the sake of reviewing.  The opinions within this review are entirely my own and not influenced by Family Christian.