Friday, May 2, 2014

Words that have changed me: Words for the hurt.

Those whom one loves the most, family and close friends, are the hardest to forgive.  One feels entitled to their love and can be immensely hurt when she does not receive it.  But it is a hurt that one must learn to remedy or else it will last one's entire lifetime, as we will always be surrounded by people we must care for.

I like trigger phrases, phrases that can quickly come to mind and penetrate straight through my thoughts to snap me back to reality.  In two previous posts I shared some trigger phrases I use, one for anxiousness and one for growing closer to God.

When I feel hurt after someone says or does something rude, and start down into the tunnel of self pity thinking no one understands me or truly cares about me, the phrase that snaps me back to reality is, "You can't expect the love of God from a created being."  Because that is really what it comes down to--being hurt is just a result of my pride, when I expect I should be treated a certain way and am startled when I'm not.  It right away points out how ridiculous my pride really is.  "You can't expect the love of God from a created being," is quite an obvious fact, but in my pride it is really the false expectation I have.

One of my life long struggles is cultivating a positive relationship with my father.  I have always criticized him for being a hypocrite and having an unloving way in instructing me.  He would always be right when pointing out my flaws, but I always resented him for being harsh in his delivery, or not following the very advice he is giving me.  Even if I had already intended to do something, once he started barking orders at me to do that very thing, out of sheer resentment I would no longer do it.  But I knew I couldn't live like this forever, I knew I couldn't let my hurt (and ultimately my pride) hold me back in life, and I had to find a constructive way to deal with such situations.  Repeating to myself, "You can't expect the love of God from a created being," every time I have an occasion to feel hurt, has been a truly freeing experience for several reasons.

First of all, the phrase automatically brings my mind to the love of God.  Feeling hurt is an isolating feeling, but when I remember "You can't expect the love of God from a created being," I don't have a chance to start feeling alone because it reminds me that I am not alone, that I have the love of God.  It gives me the reassurance that I am already receiving perfect love from Someone--and that that Someone also loves the person I am raging against in my mind.

It then moves me to compassion, looking at my father or my friend or whomever as my peer, my equal, in this spiritual journey.  I no longer have the choice to criticize my father as being a hypocrite, claiming that he should be a better example for me because he is my elder, because he is more fundamentally my peer.  We are all equally responsible for our actions before God, and instead of criticizing him, I should pray for him.  In my self-centeredness, I remember this phrase, and it opens me up to "allow" others to have flaws.

When I remember that everyone is my peer, it then reminds me of my own inability to give the love of God.  I should not just pray for the person who has hurt me, but I should pray for myself, and realize the ways I hurt others without even taking heed to what I do.   Thinking that I give perfect love is a related illusion pride might give, but with this phrase, I am reminded that I too am a created being, and I fail miserably in being loving.  If I am allowed to be flawed, so are they.

Moreover, when I remember the love of God and remember that we are all sufferers of the sickness of sin, it actually makes me more perceptive and sensitive towards instances of love.  I no longer look at my fathers instruction as harsh judgment, but as his struggle in trying to improve me and raise me right.  It takes away my narrow view of what love should be and how it should be delivered.  Because I no longer have this insurmountable expectation, it opens me up to see all the ways I've been ignoring the love of others, however imperfectly it is being delivered.

Perhaps most importantly, it opens the door for reconciliation.  When I am no longer condemning the person in my mind for having flaws, and when I am now open to the ways they have shown me love, my heart is open to forgive, reconcile, and focus on improving the relationship.

You can't expect the love of God from a created being, and that is a good thing.

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