Monday, April 08, 2013


In the world of Facebook, you will come across oodles and oodles of sage wisdom about relationships.  Some of it is sound, some of it is really cheesy, complete with ridiculous background images and sappy fonts, and some (maybe most) of it is just plain bad.  It is... hmm, what's the word I'm looking for... Actually, I can think of many words, and most of them I won't type here.  So, let's just call it "high-school relationship morality."  It's the kind of stuff spouted off in high-drama teenage school environments.

Much of it has a tirelessly common thread: belittle or somehow minimize the person who hurt you while building yourself up.  It may be masqueraded as "truth", but it is there, dripping with venom.  It is laden with a subtle whine of sour grapes and self-proclaimed victimhood that says, "I'm not really over it.  In fact, I may never be.  But just to beat you, I'm gonna prove to you how over it I am."

In fact, if there is one thing for certain in our claims to "beat" those people who called us "failures" by showing them "how we succeed over and over again," it is that the wound of whatever was done to us still hangs around our neck, to this day, like a millstone.  If feeling better about yourself and the situation depends upon the other person falling, suffering, failing, watching you win, or being half-retarded, then you are by no means free.  You are bound... and often while they have completely moved on.  Cruel irony, huh?  Your want to beat them, you want to put them beneath you, and it is keeping you beaten, not them.

That is the way it works, though.

No, the path to forgiveness is not through recognizing that "the other person is in fact an imbecile."  It is through realizing that you are essentially no different from them.  You may have details that make you different, but the more you try to distance yourself from their broken humanity, the harder it will be to finally forgive and let go of it.  You may not even see how, but it is still there.  Certainly, we must recognize our differences.  We don't all think the same.  We don't all have the same history, issues, viewpoints, wants, fears, and ways we destroy.  But we all have the same seeds within.  We all have issues.  We all are destroyers in our own ways.  We all bear the same image of God and the same stain and curse of sin that deforms us. 

If there is such a grave offense that you cannot simply let it go for the sake of love, the way out is not by differentiating yourself from them and building yourself up as better.  The way out is through the way in -by identifying with them, identifying with their brokenness, their blindness, their fears, their captivity to a distorted heart... just like you.  This is not easy.  In fact, it is harder than retreating behind the tactics of high-school drama-queens.  But you wind up free... and maybe a little sweeter.


Anonymous said...

If your heart was ever truly part of the relationship, you will never be truly "free". The feelings, the memories...the good parts and the bad will all still be there.

If you can identify with the other person for their "brokenness" as you state, you can at least be more at peace with the hurt and be able to move on.

I have also found that recognizing my own traits that damage a relationship is just as hard. It is easier to blame the other person for the breakdown of a relationship. Having to recognize in myself that I am just as destructive as the other person is vital to being able to relate to the other person's destructiveness.

Once I can recognize and accept that I was as much a part in the destructiveness, the healing towards forgiveness is easier to accept.

Mathetes said...

Well I'm defining "free" in a different sense. In the sense you describe, I agree. In the sense I am describing, we choke out our own future with our hold on the past. The Bible may call something like that a "root of bitterness" while a psychologist might call it "repetition compulsion." Not saying they are the same thing, but the effect is essentially the same. We become prisoners of our past. Having memories and feelings from the past is not the same as being a prisoner to those memories and feelings.

Yes, I agree with much of the rest you wrote. We are all good blamers, often because we are blind (unconsciously self-deceived) concerning the things we do and the ways we relate.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me, I do believe we are speaking of the same "free"; however in probably different stages. You need to be "free" in order to accept the past as the past and to move on from the past.

You cannot forget the footsteps you have already created, but it is YOU that choose the footsteps you walk now.

People walk with their head looking in the direction they are walking. Others, keep looking back.

If you are consistently looking at the footsteps in the sand you already created, how do you know that the path you are walking towards now, won't run you right into the sea? Or that you are just walking in circles? Or the Loch Ness monster comes crawling out of the loch? :)

I digress. You stated "the path to forgiveness is not through recognizing that "the other person is in fact an imbecile." It is through realizing that you are essentially no different from them." We all need to accept ourselves for WHO we are and love ourselves for WHO we are and what we've already done. Jesus loves us unconditionally as we must also love ourselves unconditionally. First, for sanity sake. Second, as we are the image of God, so should we appreciate the gift of life He has given us and not dwell on the tribulations and trials he puts us through.

God has given us individual gifts we should utilize for the best of man-kind and not listen to the whispering of Satan chastising us for our mistakes and insecurities.

We should look ahead to today and the next day.

Mathetes said...

With the first part, I really don't know what you are saying. Still, I don't move from my original post or other comment.

Regarding your comment about my main thesis, I'm not sure what your main point is either... I don't know if you are disagreeing or adding to what I said. My thesis is based in part on the parable of Jesus in Matthew 18.