Scarred by Sarcasm?

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My personality has always been peppered with wit and sarcasm.  I think it’s something in my genetic code.  Growing up it was normal within my family, and as a kid I can’t recall it ever becoming an issue with any of my friends.  Humor, wit, and sarcasm is definitely a coping strategy of mine.  It helps me navigate awkward situations or diffuse tension.  Nothing like a well timed punch line to change scowling faces into tear streamed laughter. It wouldn’t be a surprise that I would marry a man who embraced humor and sarcasm in the same way.

The first time I became cognizant of my words being harmful, was when my first was school aged.  My husband and I would joke and chide each other with sarcastic statements often.  If I wanted sushi, but my husband wanted to out to the same old burger place… I might comment:  My next husband will be an adventurous eater.   He might rebut with a jab of his won, such as:  Well my next wife will be a grillmaster and I can eat the best burgers at home.

Neither one of us were seriously considering the attributes of our future spouses.  It was just a thing we said, and we meant nothing by it.  Then one evening we were bickering over something, and I’m not sure which one of us ribbed first… but what matters is that our daughter heard us, and she was old enough at that point to know what divorce was.  The next day I over heard her confiding in a friend that her parents were fighting and might get a divorce.

I had always been taught as a child that words can hurt, hurt deeply.  I knew better than to be careless with my words, whether they were hurtfully on honest or intentionally hurtful.  However, growing up in a family that took sarcasm at the value of a grain of salt, I saw a difference between hurtful words and funny words.  What I didn’t take into consideration is that the rest of the world may not be able to see that distinction.  That includes my own children, who had been raised in a loving home and due to their age were not involved in the banter between my husband and myself.

My husband and I first had to clear things up with our daughter, reassuring her that we were just joking with each other.  We affirmed we were committed to each other in our marriage, but we also apologized for not being careful with our words to each other and in front of her.   After that, we made a commitment to her and each other… that type of humor and sarcasm wasn’t appropriate anymore.

While this was really obvious to us, in regards to our children, it was less obvious to us in regards to some of our friendships.  There were people we THOUGHT we could joke with in such a way, when in fact we couldn’t.   Being straight shooters, we could handle it when a person would say “that’s not really funny to me, knock it off”.  No problem.  The difficulty came in those who were unwilling to speak up, we were hurting them with our jokes and we didn’t even know it.  Ultimately this damaged friendships that we treasured.

It was confusing for us, because if someone would have just spoken up… we would have stopped.  At first it was easy to point the finger at others for not speaking up, when in reality we needed to realize that we were responsible for opening our mouths in the first place.  It was a hard lesson to swallow and came at great price.

Humor and even certain types of sarcasm have an appropriate place and time, but they are not tools to be unleashed without care and regard for others.  Our words can over power our character.  You can be a good person, a loving person, but your tongue can get away from you.

Proverbs 21:23 tells us to guard our mouth, to watch our words, and we will avoid trouble.

Psalm 141:3 is cry out to God to guard our mouths for us, to keep our lips shut.

Psalm 19:14 is our plea that the words of our mouths and meditations of soul be pleasing in God’s sight.

I can’t help but wonder, in every circumstance where humor or sarcasm slipped through my lips… were these words pleasing to God?

1 Thess 5:11 calls us as a body of believers to uplift one another, to encourage and build each other up.

Were my words uplifting?  Was I building up my brothers in and sisters in Christ?  Or, was I unkind and careless with my words? 

Sometimes humor and sarcasm are meant only as a joke, but when it is a joke at another person’s expense… it’s not honoring God, it’s not respecting the friendship, and it’s really not funny.  Other times, humor or sarcasm can reveal what we would never boldly say to another person.  We slip it out there with an addendum of “just kidding”, as if that makes it better. That too, is not honor God, respecting the friendship, nor is it funny.

I would encourage those who use sarcasm to be aware of the scarring effects it can have on those around us, who may never speak that truth to us.    I would also encourage those who find themselves the target of sarcasm from family or friends to be willing to speak up for themselves.  Words can hurt, words will divide…. words can also heal.

Lord, forgive me for the occasions where I have been careless with my words.  Speak to the hearts of those I may have hurt, that they know my apologies were sincere, and they can mend any broken veins that has left in their heart.   Help me to guard my mouth, so that what flows from it are words that are uplifting, encouraging, and empowering.    In Jesus name, Amen.

 

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#Write31Days – Post 14 – The Daily Grind

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Ten years ago or more, I couldn’t understand “invisible illnesses”.  They were those things that I heard people complain about, but thought to myself: But they look totally fine.  Invisible illnesses are the ones that steal things from you, but the rest of the world can’t see.  And, there are a lot of them.

Most invisible illnesses are not even fully understood, we know very little about them.  They hide in plain site, and often go undiagnosed as we attribute our symptoms as aging.  Or, they are misdiagnosed by doctors … and in many cases they are just simply dismissed.   People with “invisible illnesses” are often considered hypochondriacs, making things up or making excuses for things they just don’t want to do.  Some are given psychiatric care and medications for anxiety and depression.

This lack of treatment or mistreatment leaves the person no better than they started, and sometimes worse because the medications add to the problem instead of solving it.  I didn’t understand invisible illness myself, and definitely could have been put into the camp of people who made cheeky comments about those who claimed to have one.

Then, I was diagnosed.

When you look at me, what you see is a person who looks totally normal.  I’m not a svelt super model, long since have been the days where I could shop in the juniors section.  What you don’t see is the war that goes on in my body every single day.

At first I dismissed my symptoms, thinking the toll of three children and getting older was to blame for how I felt.  I thought it would be as simple as changing my diet, hitting the gym, taking a multi-vitamin and I would start feeling better.  I just got worse.

My memory was shot.  I used to be the type of person who could exist without a calendar, recalling details with ease.  Now I was having to write down everything. As a trained actress, I learned to memorize & recall information quickly.  Now I live with a phone full of alarms  to even remember to do the things that are apart of my DAILY life.  If I don’t write it down, count on the fact I won’t remember it.

My brain is in a constant state of fog.  Some days it is as if someone just pulled the plug on my brain and all the information drained out.  I can be listening to a speaker or reading a book, and find it absolutely impossible to comprehend what they are saying.  This is why I am a fastidious note taker.  I need to be able to read through it later to comprehend it, when I am in a clearer state of mind.

My energy is a small percentage of what it once was, some days it is a battle to just exist.  I can see the things that need to get done, but I just can’t.  There are days where my skin literally hurts to be touched.  There are days where my body is swollen to the point it aches.  Add in night sweats, body tremors, fatigue and exhaustion and it doesn’t get much better.

For my particular disease there are over 300 possible symptoms.  I have a prescription medication that I will take for the rest of my life.  I have 14 supplements that I take due to deficiencies in my body.  I see several doctors to address the various ways my disease impacts my body.  I’m giving vials of blood every three months to see what is working, what isn’t, and what has changed.  Dosages increased.  Supplements added or removed.  Try this.  Try that.  Knowing that no matter what I will never get back to where I was, I will never be cured, or 100% better.  Instead I’m just trying to make the best of what I have been dealt.

Some days, it takes me really … really low.   But, then there will be spikes when I have energy, and my outlook on life is a lot more positive.  I try not to burden others with my illness, and I do believe in part it is because I know they simply will never totally get it.

It’s a daily battle.  It’s my daily grind.

Will today be a good day?  A bad day?  Will I give into those feelings and symptoms, or will I push through them?  Is today a day I just need to stop and relax?

I have prayed for answers, and for healing.  I believe with all sincerity in miraculous healing.  Yet, I have never been angry with God that I am still sick.  It doesn’t diminish my faith or increase my doubts about God.  In fact, it strengthens them.  My faith is stronger, because I am not relying on myself.

My Pastor’s wife once called me “high capacity”.  If you talk to others who know me, they will agree with that.  I am a person who gets things done, quickly, and efficiently.  I can multitask with the best of them.  As much as I am a creative person, I also have a gift for administration.  I’m usually the person you want on your team, I thrive on deadlines, and I always give my best.

If this is how they see me now, since being diagnosed, can you only imagine what I was like before I was sick?   It would make your head spin.

The difference between now, and then, is that today I do not work in my own strength.  Everything that I do… is in HIS strength.  He gives me the energy, drive, and motivation.  He gives me the physical strength and mental capacity.  When I look at what is accomplished I can ONLY give HIM the glory.  My flesh is weak, tired, and broken.  His power is perfected in my weakness.   My joy comes from the Lord.  My peace is from Christ.  My strength is from the Holy Spirit.

My thorn keeps me meek, humbles me… so that I do not exalt myself and what I am capable of.  Instead I keep my eyes on the Lord, where my strength comes from.  I know that He goes before me, and comes up behind.  I know that He shields me and protects me.  He will give me charge to battle, or call me to lie and rest.  He is the one who provides the words, lays out my path, and guides my journey.  I simply say:  Here I am Lord, use me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.…

#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.

 

 

 

There is more, He has a better plan for you.

The Lord hears the cries of his daughters, he knows the pain in their hearts, the emptiness they try to seek to fill in places outside of Him.  He hears you, He is calling to you, He is knocking.  Open the door.

PROJECT: I NEED YOUR STORIES

I am working on a very special series for the blog.  But, I need YOUR help.

I am looking for very specific stories, that I can incorporate into the pieces.  I can change names for privacy.  Please use the contact form below to give your name & contact information, as well as a brief synopsis of your story.  I will contact people individually for more specific information about their story based on how it fits into the project.

DESCRIPTION:

Did you have someone in your life that you held in HIGH esteem  (a parent, employer, pastor, friend, sibling, leader, author, etc) …  who ultimately let you down in a most devastating way (adultery, criminal behavior, broken trust, etc) that now makes it hard for you to trust others (now you are a skeptic, broken faith, broken heart, broken trust, etc)Did you heal from this experience, are you still healing, or do you feel you cannot heal from this wrong?