Tag Archive: forgiveness


It’s Not About You

My sister Shelah likes to say this. Most of the time I hear her pronouncing these words, it’s been an attempt to remind another sister that there are other people also living here. For a while there, Shelah said it so frequently that it became background noise! Really, though, I think she’s making a good point. In fact, I think there’s actually more than one good point to be made from it.

One is the context in which Shelah used it. It was an admonishment not to be selfish and a reminder that the world does not revolve around you. It was a (sometimes much needed!) reminder to behave better and remember others nearby.

That’s all good, but I think there’s another, more subtle benefit to this admonishment. It doesn’t have to be all about you. It’s not required, demanded, forced, which means that sometimes it can be easier to let things go, because they are not about you. Relationships inevitably produce friction between the people involved. Sometimes that friction occurs because those people have some problems with each other. Other times, though, friction occurs because one or both of those people is having a bad day and become unusually sensitive to little things. Things that are normally fine are somehow so completely irritating or upsetting or otherwise emotionally charged. Molehills ARE mountains!! And sometimes the person-having-bad-day is easily offended, and some of sort of conflict breaks out.

If it’s your turn to be the unfortunate offender of a person who is having a hard time thanks to life in general instead of with you in particular, you might try offering a simple apology that deals specifically with whatever the (minor) offense was, such as, “I’m sorry that what I said was upsetting. It didn’t come out quite right, and I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Sometimes that’s enough, and sometimes they’re still grumpy butts who are still having a bad day and still feel snarly. At times like that, minor conflicts are easily escalated into mountains, and this is a fantastic time to remember that it’s not about you.

Don’t get sucked in. Don’t take it personally. Don’t accept blame for their bad day. Don’t get huffy about their snarling. Don’t make an effigy of them and burn it, or turn their picture into a dart board. Don’t worry about their audition for a part on Sesame Street as Oscar the Grouch.  Give them some grace. Be a good friend or neighbor. Remember, instead, that God loves ’em – bless their grumpy, little hearts -and that they’re having a hard time that is not about you. It’s much easier, I think, to then forgive the conflict and let it go. Makes for lighter living and better sleeping if I remember that often enough, it’s not all about me.

What do you think?

Blessings Found in Brokenness

In my last post, I talked about my revelation that God is truly good. That sort of interrupted all my yakking about brokenness, but I think it was a timely interruption. When God asked me what I would if I stayed broken, I’d already realized that He was good. I had a confidence and trust in His willingness to care for me that absolutely helped me to consider His question with less defensiveness than I had before. Please note that I did not say “no defensiveness.” I was hardly free from it. However, I was much more willing to listen. God is not out to get us. He is good. Brokenness: my lack of perfection, my deformed limp, my pain, my weakness – it might not be the end of the world.

As a matter of fact, it isn’t. In some ways, it’s been good for me. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that God has worked good out of it for me. I could quote some Scripture (Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” with its claim that God’s “grace is sufficient” certainly leaps to mind!) to slap a coat of religious paint on, but I’d rather just tell you about what I know and am learning about living with a limp.

The funny thing is that there is some freedom in limping. I didn’t expect that. For instance, I don’t struggle as much with pride. Neither do I struggle as much with being afraid of finding pride within me. Both of those battles consumed a lot of effort. I’m a gifted individual, and the pitfall of pride correlates well with giftedness. So does the (sometimes false) accusation of pride. I used to get so tied up trying to figure out where my real problem was so I could fix it. Thing is that a lot of my pride was tied up in my “perfection” compared to other people. Having to accept my own brokenness and let God’s grace be sufficient slapped that one down hard. It’s great!

I learned more sympathy. This would be a no brainer, right? It seems like learning to accept, instead of rejecting and fleeing and shunning, my own pain would help me to be more kind to others experiencing hurt and disappointment.

The world became less black and white. One of my friends gave me an interesting tidbit about abuse survivors. After making it through a world of overly simplified values (like, kill or be killed; fight or flight; fight/flight or be thrashed; bad people or good people; it’s safe or it’s not – I’m sure you get the idea), former victims don’t know that the world is full of greys and even color. It’s not all an either/or proposition. I don’t know if that’s true of every abuse survivor, but it’s certainly something I’ve seen in myself and in my family. Where it can cause lots of trouble is in relationships. It’s a rare person who is an angel or a demon. Most folk are quite the mix, and I didn’t assess that well, not even in myself. It made me unnecessarily rigid, and I lacked grace. Enter ‘“My grace is sufficient,” right?

I am more able to live with uncertainty, which goes hand in hand with the world not seeming as black and white. The unknown is not as terrifying. Nor do I assume it to be populated only with bad things. Good things must be there, too. I have more hope.

One reason for that is I learned that brokenness is not necessarily pathetic or despicable. It’s not a disqualifier. God doesn’t hate me because I’m broken. People don’t always deal well with it, but God doesn’t have that problem. Although there frequently is pain involved, the pain is not a disqualifier, either. God still loves me even when I hurt. Brokenness is not leprosy or cause for quarantine. It is not contagious. Ain’t nobody perfect, folks. We all be broken.

I am more able to learn. Rigidity doesn’t lend itself well to the acquisition of new information, experiences, or opinions. Even when a person tries hard, rigidity greatly complicates the learning process.

I always have someplace to go. Brokenness cannot keep me from God and His provision, instruction, and comfort.

I’ve learned more patience. Please note that I do not claim to be a patient person! But I’ve had to learn some, because limping precludes getting anywhere fast.

It’s helped me to forgive. Oh, my, that’s a good one! That’s freedom! Once pride lost its grip, and I accepted that I, too, am broken, I realized that my dad and I have that in common. He’s broken, too. He took things to extremes that I have not, but that’s no reason for me to feel like I’m somehow better than him. I am not without sin. I am not perfect. Accepting that at an emotional level definitely helped free from my burning desire to start throwing rocks. Of course I was angry with my dad. I should have been. He did not treat me well, but living out my life hating his guts and everything about him was a horrible way to live, because, truthfully, I have more in common with him than brokenness. For example, writing is not my mom’s thing. It was most definitely my dad’s.

Happy Independence Day!