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did I say that out loud?..

Just recently at the gym I had a lady ask me how many months pregnant I am.   I responded by saying; “My baby was born 12 weeks ago”.   This poor lady’s face went completely white for a moment.   I said something funny to make her feel better and her face softened.   For the remainder of my workout I somehow felt motivated to work quite hard…..

I have a huge mouth – my foot gets in there pretty good on a regular basis.   I say things in ignorance, or without thinking it through first.  I’m sure we’ve all had moments when we’ve said something unintentionally hurtful to someone and when someone has done the same unintentionally to us.

It wasn’t hard being gracious to that lady.  I don’t know her, and by the look on her face it was clear she didn’t mean any harm.  What IS hard is forgiving those who cut us deeply.   Those who we feel “meant” it.   However, when I think back on things that have been said to me that really hurt, I can’t imagine that person woke up thinking, “Today I think I’m going to hurt Connie really bad”.  No one does that.  There could be many reasons why people say things that hurt us: insecurity, a bad day, ignorance, lack of people-skills, jealousy…. the list can go on.   But that doesn’t matter does it?

What does matter is: how are we going to respond?

Make a clean break with all the cutting, backbiting, profane talk…. (Ephesians 4:32 The message)

I have personally experienced betrayal.  I have been the recipient of gossip.  I have been talked down to.  (who hasn’t right?)   In those times I’ve desired to do the exact same thing right back at them.   In anger, I’ve spoken cutting words about them to my husband and good friends – thinking it was totally justified because of their treatment towards me.   In hurt I have confided to friends calling it “venting”.  Who are we kidding?  It was full out gossip – the kind of gossip that feels vindicated if someone else knows how awful that person really is who hurt me.  I’ve had my ears tickle when others have talked about them.  I’ve played the “concerned” card – you know the one that asks questions that sound like you’re concerned for them when really, you just want the inside scoop….

But this verse says to make a clean cut from all of that…. and it doesn’t stop there:

Be gentle with one another, sensitive.  Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 The Message)

What’s interesting about this verse is that it’s not just telling us what to do but what our entire attitude needs to be: gentle and sensitive.  Gentleness is the reminder to bite the tongue…. bite harder… and keep biting!  While you’re biting that tongue, add a little empathy.   Then add some self-examination and realize that you have that same capability to hurt.  “Who me”?  Yup.

But before we all pat ourselves on the back too much after biting the tongue, holding back saying all the things we’re thinking, God adds one more request: forgive them as quickly and thoroughly as God has forgiven you. Did I just read that right?  Forgive?   I can put on a face, suck it up and graciously smile…. but forgive?   And did God say “quickly”?  Surely He knows I need time.  I mean, they hurt me bad.  It’s going to take a month at least… actually when I really think about what they did it could take a long time!

You know you’ve forgiven when you don’t think about it anymore.  You know you’ve forgiven when you don’t need to talk about it anymore.  It’s not that you forget, you’re just over it.  It’s done and you’ve moved on.   About six years ago I went through a very hurtful situation.   I’ve JUST stopped talking about it.   I finally let it go.  I know I’ve forgiven because it doesn’t occupy much needed real estate in my mind anymore.

I think that’s why God says “quickly”.  What did all those years of holding onto the hurt do to me?   It only hurt me more.  It delayed potential and growth I could have experienced.  The longer I held on, the stronger the feelings became.   Did I think that holding onto the hurt would somehow bring the justice I was looking for?  Far from it.  When it comes to hurt and unforgiveness, get rid of it and do it fast.  And when it shows its ugly head again (which it will), deal with it as quickly as possible.

Lastly, God says “thoroughly” – to forgive them as thoroughly as He has forgiven you.  Wow.  He’s pretty thorough…. He extends complete forgiveness with no strings attached.  He forgives us even though He knows we’ll probably do it again.  He forgives us even when we don’t repent with 100% sincerity.   Can I extend the same to those I know will hurt me again?  To those who I know aren’t really that sorry.  To those who I know will go on to even do the same to others? Can I release them?

One thing I do know is that if I do, I’ve learned the heart of the Father a little bit more.  Easier said than done.  Its such a process isn’t it?   Continue the journey friends, and so will I.

(recommended read: Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall)

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Categories: relationships
  1. laura meilleur
    January 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Wow Connie, I was going to say you should read RT Kendall’s book on Total Forgiveness. You my friend are a very special person. I thank you that no matter what situations are “squeezing you” what comes from you is sincerety, acceptance, forgiveness, love, understanding….I could go on. Connie, I want you to know that when I hear others talk about you, those are the kinds of things I have heard. Recently, I heard these words…”there has never been a judegemental thing said from Connie, she is the most accepting person I know” You are always looking for the good in others. Thanks for your transparency. I am blessed to call you my friend.

  2. Angie Hung
    January 12, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I really like this post! I need to work on gentleness myself, I can be pretty aggressive when I think people are out to hurt me or when I think people are ignoring me. As for forgiveness, they do say it’s to help the forgiving person way more than the other way around. I’m sure many have heard the saying already: “it’s like drinking poison yourself and hoping the other person dies”. Perhaps another way to know that you’ve forgiven someone is that you can think/recall about the situation, but the same feelings / bitterness / hurt don’t occur (you don’t re-live the same emotions as before). and that when you forgive someone, the other person doesn’t have to say “sorry” (or mean it) nor do they even have to acknowledge that they’ve done wrong. In most cases, they’ve moved on and forgotten (if even realized it in the first place), but you haven’t. It doesn’t mean that you condone what they’ve done, but yeah, it takes away from your happiness and health, even biologically. and (excuse me I’m on a soap box): not forgiving means resentment (often accompanied with the word “should” as in “he shouldn’t have done that” or “she should have done that”), resistance (not accepting what is – and you lose control and opportunity and self-esteem and intimacy), and if not controlled, ultimately revenge, which makes you lose your life and your dreams (because things like revenge cause some people to murder, then spend the rest of their lives in jail).

    I guess something that we all have to ask ourselves (definitely me included) is: Is hanging onto this sad memory/moment effective for what you want in your life right now?

  3. Angie Hung
    January 12, 2011 at 6:45 am

    and LOL, the site says that “possibly related posts” are:

    Lady Gaga’s Face Decor
    Dangerous fashions in cosmetics – part 2

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