24/11/2020

Accepting Unforgiveness

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:18 pm by The Water Bearer

I’ve always tired to be nice, polite and tolerant of people, I’m a typical people pleaser, so its easy for me to ‘forgive’, to keep the peace and get along with most people. I really just wanted to be included and I assumed this was how it’s done.

In the past this trait caused me to befriend the wrong people. Rather than being choosy about who I let close, I invited in anyone willing to show me attention, affection and acceptance. Even after they had treated me with appalling betrayals, I was willing to give another chance, believing I was growing and learning about forgiveness.

It’s not just friends that teach us about forgiveness, its colleagues, family and lovers too. Recently I have been learning the difference between friendliness and true forgiveness. The world would like us to believe that we must remain in relationship with those we have forgiven in order to prove we have let go of the grudge. But people are often nice to the face of those they hate, so how is being ‘Nice’ to them any evidence of our forgiving heart? I’m pretty good at nice, but I’m learning its not the same thing as true forgiveness. 

I heard Jordan Peterson say something like “Don’t pretend you are a better person than you are. If you have even 5% unforgiveness left in you and you pretend its not there, it will come out in other ways and may destroy everything.”

This got me thinking, because what happens when we allow someone back into our lives, claim to forgive and try to forget their past betrayals, only to realise they continue in the same vein? What happens when more betrayals build on top of the 5% of unforgiveness we may have hiding in our hearts from the last source of pain? Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7, but I don’t believe he was encouraging us to keep putting ourselves back in the path of someone who hasn’t learned the lesson from their last betrayal, or even their last hundred betrayals. I think he was talking about how often we all fail, feel remorse and need forgiveness and must give the same grace to others that we accept for ourselves. That is more about self-awareness, and growth, because we ALL mess up over and over, and our remorse must reach its utmost before we really make the changes and cease the behaviour.

In just the past year or so, a few of those I had ‘forgiven’ and let back in, became untrustworthy yet again. And those old beliefs that I must rise above, tolerate and ‘forgive’ came rising from within me. But when I took a good look in my heart I realised I was still hurt, still angry at past events even though I had continued in relationship with them, and so their recent betrayals just lit the fuse of an explosion of unforgiveness! It wasn’t pretty.

On top of that, people who I trusted for many years also turned on me, and it would have been easy to pretend all was forgiven and go back to people pleasing them, but instead I withdrew just a little, I stayed polite, but I chose not to be as invested as I had always been. I didn’t want to be included. I wanted an damned apology! I wanted to protect my fragile heart and I wanted proof that they were trustworthy again before letting down my guard.

Then came a huge epiphany!

It is often necessary to accept our unforgiveness and take the time to heal, in order to truly forgive.

Now this will be tricky, and can’t be rushed, especially with those who haven’t even apologised, and/or continued to betray me. I knew I needed a significant amount of time to truly forgive. I needed to heal that last 5% and that means I need time without more betrayals adding to the pile. 

Some may believe that I am unchristian and unloving by removing myself from the contact of those who need my forgiveness. But I know the truth, I know I have tried to treat them well despite the pain in my heart. I recognise they need my true forgiveness, not merely a polite relationship. I believe, thanks to the forgiveness I have received from my Saviour, that true forgiveness is possible and I am looking forward to experiencing its freedom when I get there. But in the mean time, I’m removing that overcompensating smile plastered across my face that makes everyone more comfortable with their mistreatment of me and I’m focusing on the process of entirely overcoming any deeper levels of unforgiveness, so that when I say and act like I have forgiven someone, I will feel and know it’s TRUTH!

 

 

19/11/2017

But Did You Become Bitter or Better?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:13 pm by The Water Bearer


“Sometimes your best motivation comes wrapped in sandpaper” – Lisa Nichols

This amazing quote beautifully captures the possibility of turning adversity into the fuel that drives us to become new creations.

When you suffer any form of physical or emotional tribulation it can be far too easy to become bitter and self-destructive, and fall into the trap of a victim mindset.

We can get stuck in a cycle of blaming others for our bitterness, rather than taking accountability for our own choices, and behaviour. This leads to a rut where relationships and lives remain unfulfilled.

Taking accountability means having the guts to look in the mirror and say “I am Bitter, I Am bitter, I AM BITTER and it is toxic, and its no one else’s fault! The actions of others are not excuses for me to continue in my bitterness, for then I am spreading poison to everyone I encounter! I have become part of the problem!”

See by owning up to your bitterness, you earn your license to drive it. Rather than saying “Someone else put me in this car of bitterness and I’ve had no other choice but to crash my bitterness into everyone I meet” which causes you to stay trapped on the road to more unhappiness.

When you gain your license, you can change the course of your destiny, by taking ownership of the direction of your life. You can’t avoid or escape all embittering situations, but you can learn and grow from every trial. Rather than sitting around praying that your life will change and hoping for joy and successful relationships, take Christ at His promise to resurrect and restore you!

Begin to stand and walk in that promise! Because no matter how bad things get here on earth it is only temporary, and no matter what the physical evidence appears to be right now, trust that God has a wonderful plan for your life, if you step into it.

Recognise the way your own bitterness has steered your life towards that pit, and use the promises of God to earn your license to avoid the pitfalls which Inner Enemies set before you. You can use whatever destruction you find yourself in to be the canvas you intend to wipe clean, using self-awareness you can begin to reconstruct the best, happiest version of you!

So how do you wipe your canvas clean through self-awareness?

Firstly stop holding up your ‘innocence’ against the faults you find in others, or comparing your life to the lives of those you assume have had it easier or who you think are ‘luckier’ than you.

Instead at every opportunity ask yourself “what is in my control?” Discovering that only your own actions, your words, your reactions, your choices are in your control. You wipe a section of your canvas clean every time you come face-to-face with your own toxic emotions and excuses, and refuse to let them control you any longer.

When you have the courage and the character to raise your hand and say “That was me, I did that, my bad. I own that poor choice or that bitter reaction.” When we do this without excuses, God can fill our hearts and our lives with His mercy and grace, and set us free from the unhealthy patterns those reactions have trapped us in. It then transforms our reality that being in any relationship is no longer about ‘getting incompetent love’ from others, but in giving love to others. And nothing creates fulfilment like it!

Then we can stop spreading our bitter poison and begin instead to spread Hope, Love, Faith, Truth and Joy!

 

03/06/2013

A Slave To Guilt – No More!*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:12 pm by The Water Bearer

Slave

I used to think my Dad was narrow minded and hard to please (back when I really didn’t know him). He would ‘tut and huff’ under his breath if he came across something that bothered him, and I always felt guilty just being myself around him. I later learned that he wasn’t tutting at me, (He was tutting at the increasing level of evil which he felt all around him), but I was so used to guilt trips, that I thought I was disappointing him each time I heard that “Tut”.

After 10 years of close relationship with my Dad I came to believe I was good enough. Good enough for him, and good enough for God. When he passed away and took his place with the stars, I knew his approval, acceptance and love for me could never change. He loved me and was proud of who I am. This realisation gave me a wonderful freedom from the guilt that had haunted me all my life. Then everything changed. I began to work hard on building boundaries against those who used guilt to manipulate me. Those who tried to make me feel not good enough, so that I would change to suit them.

It seems a popular topic at the moment. Many feel guilt from expectations, and the difficulty of establishing a healthy boundary with those who use guilt to manipulate. And many more think their expectations should be forced onto others, at the cost of being kind, or giving grace. They become manipulative, without even realising it.

The problem with having expectations is that you can be thrown into a negative mindset when they are not met. I remember being adamant about what I thought others should do, especially a romantic partner, a parent, or a sibling. It caused me to be constantly disappointed, surrounded by drama, and bitterness grew easily in my heart.

We all have various expectations, it is what makes us human, but are they reasonable expectations, or are they restrictive, high, and unreasonable?  Do we expect others to behave in ways we have determined to be right or acceptable, and find it unbearable when others have completely different views? This can make personal relationships extremely complicated and difficult.

Guilt has some terrific benefits to the human condition, it convicts our hearts when we need to correct the choices we have made. To develop and grow into who we really want to be. The consequences of our choices is what brings about this healthy type of guilt. Sometimes we can come to the conclusion, for ourselves. Other times we forget to self-assess and it takes an outside source to point it out to us. These can all be beneficial experiences in the long run,  if we are open to them.

However, when someone tries to force us to feel guilty because we didn’t meet their unreasonable expectations, this guilt changes from being beneficial to being manipulative. It is up to us to get honest with ourselves, to consider if we trust ourselves to decide, and if WE can live happily with our choices. The reactions of others may or may not be in line with our thinking, and it seems to have become too common to slip into trying to please every man and his dog, as a priority over what we believe is right for us, living guilt free.

This is such a complex issue and so many variables make it hard to give one simple answer. That being said, I have found that being a “people-pleaser” (i.e. trying to stop people being disappointed in you) only gets you so far before you begin to lose sight of who you are and who you want to be.

Setting a healthy boundary decreases this manipulation. This boundary might be, to consider the feelings of others, but only so far as to weigh up the possible consequences of your choice, and accept that they may not like your choice. Recognize that coming up against opposition doesn’t automatically make you wrong, or in need of a good dose of guilt. Think it through, are they being reasonable or not? Are they supporting the choice you are making for YOUR own reasons? Or are they putting their own expectations over your permission to choose for yourself?

I am so very glad that I had Dad to show me how toxic high expectations can be. He taught me to aim for grace over restriction, to try being accepting instead of dissatisfied.

Life is hard enough without tripping over the graceless expectations from others. We are human after all. The ability to get it wrong and change is upon our own shoulders, no one elses. Grace is a blessing waiting for us to grab onto. Give Grace to others, but also Give Grace to yourself and be freed from manipulative guilt!

Free

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