Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sabotaging Relationships... Who Can We Trust?

No one knows what we’re feeling, what we’re thinking and how we’re manifesting all of our emotions inside of us. They can assume, guess or even conjure up scenarios of their own, but they’ll never know if we don’t communicate it to them. Do we have to? Do we need to communicate every single emotion that flows within us? Or can we just walk around letting these emotions weigh heavy on our hearts? It’s a personal thing…I know.

Deep seeded emotional pain has to be resolved in some way, so each person can live a life without resentment or anguish. Forgiveness is great, if one can manage to do it. The main thing is, self-respect. You can forgive a person all you want for inflicting pain upon you, but you have to keep in mind that your self-respect is important too. You don’t want to let the same person keep repeating emotional harm to your well-being. I’m not trying to imply 'building a huge wall' to protect yourself…that’s not where I’m going with this. There’s a fine line between forgiveness, and letting somebody walk all over you again out of fear and guilt. Forgetting is the hard part about forgiveness. We try, but we’re human.

Physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Whether this happened in your childhood or even as an adult, the best thing that I find is forgiveness, with the discernment to know if you should really have this person in your life – or evaluate how much time and effort you put forth into that relationship- whatever the relationship may be. (Ex-lover, friend, father, mother, sister, uncle, cousin, etc.) Anyone can hurt anyone---so this isn’t all about relationships in the romantic sense. This is all about the human connection and the need for acceptance on both parts.

Take for instance, a relative that has sexually abused a child within the family. It’s a touchy and sensitive topic- so bear with me. This has never been done to me, I thank God with all my might, but I’ve known people that have had this painful experience. I see them trying to unite with the person who inflicted the emotional pain, the physical trauma of it all, and they try to be a better person so that they can be seen as “forgiving”, but usually, it ends up crashing and burning. It manifests itself into other things. It can leak out into other relationships, like lack of trust, anger, lashing out, or emotional outbursts that are forever torturing this poor soul. The entire traumatic experience may ruin potential relationships, making it hard to develop or “maintain” romantic unions. They don’t want to get hurt again. Understandable.

I find that most people who still talk to their “offender”, but more often, try to please them by making up for the past, are filled up with resentment and anger. They don’t want to spill it upon the person who they’ve been hurt by, but they’ll spill it on somebody else; someone they love instead. Without professional help and assistance with their deep seeded emotions, they’ll keep going around the same mountain….over….and over…..and over again. It’ll never stop. Each relationship will be similar to the next.

God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength. ~1 Corinthians 1:25

With God’s help, God’s strength and your forgiveness, you can try to overcome the pain you’ve endured in the past to move on to a better state of mind…a better grasp on life. Instead of burying your unconditional love with emotions such as, anger, resentment, bitterness and guilt----ask God to remove those emotions, so that you can let your love conquer through it all.

My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth! He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands besides you as your protective shade. The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. ~Psalm 121:2-8

Great faith is trusting in God, to protect you and your heart. I write this because I am witnessing someone going through emotional conflict, due to his/her past traumas. I’ve witnessed many friends and many people I have come across suffer through the same thing. They want to please everyone all of the time. It’s a hard task to take on. I’m guilty of it too. It’s absolutely draining and it makes you feel miserable, leaving you with a negative outlook on people. You’ll start resenting the very people you’re trying to please.

God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterwards they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. ~James 1:12

Even in romantic relationships, we’ll place blame for our past traumas onto our new love- or even place it upon innocent people, like our friends and family. It’s not fair and it’s not healthy. Directing your past aggressions onto someone who doesn’t know where it’s coming from is detrimental to the relationship. Figure out the source. Focus on it. Resolve it, and most of all, ask God to help you handle it.

Listen! The Lord is not too weak to save you, and he is not becoming deaf. He can hear you when you call. ~Isaiah 59:1

Sometimes we doubt that God can hear us when we’re emotionally upset. We even put prayer aside so we can cry, complain or bicker with somebody else about it. I even find myself sometimes pacing around the room while I’m emotionally upset about something, wishing there was something “I” can do. But, the thing is, if I don’t let God help me, how can I rely on only myself? When I put all my burdens upon myself, I find unsuccessful results.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~Matthew 11:28-29

Do you have enough faith to let God handle it?


Ross12345 said...

I love this post! So good!


Lordmanilastone said...

I like the idea of putting some pod casts to go with my posts. I just don't know if you have encountered any problems so far. Earlier when I clicked on your website, there were some pop ups. I am just worried that people might have second thoughts about going through your site because of these. This is my second visit and I didn't see those pop-ups anymore.^^

Lordmanilastone said...

There was a time I wanted to give up my faith in God. I was so religious then. These days, I rarely go to church but I do believe in God's healing power. I feel guilty that I don't keep in touch with home as much as I used to. Your posts here give me some inspiration especially that you show a great concinnity of Bible passages that go along with your essay. Good Job. And you are right, forgiveness really heals your pains in time with the assurance that God is always beside you if you cast your faith in Him.^^

~Deb said...

No pop ups on my blog anymore. I had a problem with them when I enabled bravenet. I removed that. I appreciate you bringing that up. As far as the podcasts, I haven't experienced anything negative, except that people are going to assume I have a very "manly" voice. (hehe)

Anyway, thank you for commenting. I think that the bible passages are so important (especially for me), because it shows that God really wants you to call out to Him, when you're in need, and even when you're not in need. He hears us all the time! :)

Thanks so much for your input!

Enemy of the Republic said...

I know about this all too well. At a later date, I will comment more.

Gary Baker said...

Excellent thoughts, Deb. Inspired, I would say.

There are so many things tearing away at people these days. The media loves to stir the pot when they can. Special interests work overtime to either get enraged about injustice, or in tears about it. And there is the physical side of it, too. I read not too long ago that anger stimulates brain chemicals similar to endorphins. Anger feels good. (I wonder if some people are addicted?) It's no wonder that it's so hard to find that peaceful center where God rules. But there's no better place to be.

thewishfulwriter said...

Great blog - as usual. You have incredible insight into so many different topics - thank you for sharing that insight!

~Deb said...

Enemy: Thanks! I look forward to it.

Gary: Thank you… Do you speak of adrenaline junkies? The ones who either need excitement, whether it’s bad or good? It is an addiction, and sometimes, we feed of drama. You’re absolutely right. If we can only stay in that peaceful center that God rules, then all that other static energy will fade off and we’ll eventually come to not miss it.

Thewishfulwriter: Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I try speaking from experience, as well as what I see my own loved ones going through. I appreciate your kind words!

Gary Baker said...

The article I read was more specific than adrenaline. It focused on the types of chemicals that are released specifically from an angry state of mind. One example that I've run across is the "continual venter." I know that we all reach a point where we need to left off steam from time to time, but occasionally I've run into a person that vents and vents, but never seems to get any of the anger out of their system. Usually I try to distract them from the subjects that they keep venting on. If I can't, I tend to stay away from them so that they won't get me too revved up on the subject. For the definitive example, look up the episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" from Star Trek (original series).

~Deb said...

Believe me...I have a lot of "continual venting" friends....not naming names or anything of course... Do you think it may be a genetic thing? There are some people who just look at the glass half empty...all...the...time.... I know I'm getting off topic from childhood traumas and how people deal with it in other ways as adults, but sometimes it feels as though it may be a personality type of thing.

Not sure. Interesting. I'm going to look at episode. Thanks, Gary!

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Sexual abuse is a tough subject. It is important particularly among folks from a faith background that they not be made to feel they must provide forgiveness on demand. It takes time and healing and understanding and acknowledgment of the victim's feelings and trauma before forgiveness can (or should occur). Grace is not cheap - Jesus paid a hefty price for it - and amendment of life on the part of the pepetrator is needed for forgiveness to happen.
Sometimes the most healing thing for the victim is for them to come to an understanding that God can forgive the perpetrator and that the victim does not need to do so until the time feels right for them. And beyond this, with sexual abuse in families, there is often the need to protect those who might become victims in the future.

Ricardo said...
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ann said...

I'm not so sure about forgiving, that almost condones the actions, but I am a great believer that hatred is self-destructive and eats away at your heart and your soul

Bad things happen to practically everybody in some way or other; some people sadly perpetuate it; the wise learn. They know they didn't like it and they know not to carry on that pattern... they know to break the mould and live their lives at peace with themselves

Amy said...

You have a way with words, great post...I will say this, I know some of this too well

Ricardo said...

Well said. I deleted my last comment. I hope the people that went through such a rough ordeal can find a way of getting out of the cycle you describe. Such terrible damage was done by these selfish actions. I can't understand why adults do this to kids.

~Deb said...
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~Deb said...

I just feel that forgiveness, in any type of abuse, whether it be verbal, emotional, physical and/or sexual (which is extreme) should try to establish forgiveness, yet,, with the ability to still maintain the self-respect and "distance" that needs to take place. Each circumstance is different, but if we can determine what type of communication we have with the offender or none at all, that's of our own will to protect our hearts.

The key is forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't mean to chit-chat everyday on the phone out of guilt and uneasiness - but to let the person know, "I forgive you, and it is my choice to ________ ." That may mean to continue communicating with them, or to keep a distance and not talk to them again.

If the trauma is still affecting you today, where you cannot hold a steady relationship or have difficulties with others, then maybe the best choice is to heal (as Kate has described), forgive and then move on with your life.

Why bring the past into future relationships?

awannabe said...

I never thought of it in terms of self respect. But I have been avoiding my mother in law because she is so blunt and verbally abusive towards me. I'm scared to tell her off for the sake of my husband... What does that make me?

~Deb said...

Human. ....A human that obviously cares.

Lisa said...

This hits close to home for me.

The definition of forgiveness that I strive for: To move past my need for revenge on the people who hurt me. I don't see it as condoning (don't mean to argue with a previous poster); I see it more as recognizing that the damage was done, and no amount of anger or begrudgement on my part will change the fact that my issues are MY issues to overcome with God's help, regardless of how they became mine.

Not to detract from the abuser's responsibility in inflicting the pain.. I just choose to think about me more than them right now. :)

Really good post. Really good comments, too.

Taz said...

Gary - I read some interesting stuff on the addictiveness of anger. It was in a CBH (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) book.

Basically Anger helps us to feel justified, and safe. It helps you feel that you are 'right' in the conflict. It's emotionally addictive, though I'm not surprised to hear it's physically addictive as well.

Deb - I agree that we need to concentrate on healing our hurts, rather than on spending time with the people that hurt us. Forgiveness is fine - but we really need to look after our own well being first.

Since I've done that I find I am naturally a better, more forgiving person (I have not had to deal with trauma, just normal set backs, and I used to deal with them badly).

I agree with Lisa. This is an interesting post - and interesting comments too. I will be back =).

Gary Baker said...

I kind of have a different take on the subject of forgiveness (surprise, surprise), which I'll respectfully offer here:

Forgiveness really has (or perhaps "should have") very little to do with the offender. Rather, forgiveness is a spiritual process that mainly benefits the person doing the one forgiving. It benefits them in a number of ways, particularly if they are a believer. It demonstrates obedience to the scriptures, which is a key to growth. And in the case of wrongs so great that the person finds they cannot forgive, it requires that reliance on God and the use of his power which helps build the spiritual relationship. With respect to the commentor above, an act of forgiveness does not condone. It says that I have evaluated your actions, and have placed them before the highest Judge. He will deal with them; I will move on.

Even for the unbeliever, forgiveness has many benefits. Living with anger is harmful, as most of us have found out. And holding a grudge can become a habit. Fortunately, so can forgiveness. And when someone is forgiven, they are no longer occupying our thoughts in a harmful way. In short, they have no power over us.

As to the forgiven, they may or may not benefit. If they accept the forgiveness as a gift meant to spur repentance, then they to can grow as a person. If they consider it an act of weakness or stupidity, then they are likely to head into worse trouble in the future. In that way, it's a lot like the choice God gives us when we decide how to accept his forgiveness.

I agree with you Deb that respecting yourself is important, but not essential to forgiveness. At least not at the beginning. Taking forgiveness as an act of spiritual worship, relying on God's strength will build you up as a Christian and a person in general. I believe that practicing forgiveness will help develop that self respect, and it will be a healthy, not haughty, version of it.

Sermon concluded. Have a great day everyone.

~Deb said...
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~Deb said...

Lisa: I agree. I don’t believe forgiveness condones the act itself, however it helps us within ourselves to heal in a better way, as well as let God take over. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue a close relationship with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is recognizing the damage, and letting yourself heal, as well as moving on in whichever direction “you” choose to. Thanks, Lisa!

Taz: The most important thing is taking care of “us”…our hearts and how we can heal in a more effective way. Forgiveness is the first step to healing, but again, it doesn’t mean we have to continue speaking to that person, or having them in our lives. Depending on the situation, it can definitely lead to many setbacks if we were to let them in again. I appreciate your input! Thank you!

Gary: Beautifully said! ”…With respect to the commentor above, an act of forgiveness does not condone. It says that I have evaluated your actions, and have placed them before the highest Judge. He will deal with them; I will move on.”

That’s why at the end of my post, I explained how important it is to give your burdens to the Lord. Let Him protect you- protect you from the hurt, the pain and the emotional turmoil that it plagues on the victim. Forgiveness is very important for a believer, and yes, I think it’s imperative that one forgives out of health reasons, emotionally and physically. When we lack forgiveness, we lack the presence of God within us, we risk health benefits and we’ll harbor resentment in our hearts that can lead to many physical ailments. I didn’t mean to sound as if “self-respect” was meant to be sought out in a conceited type of way, but more in a self-loving type of way. Love ourselves, take care of ourselves, let God handle our burdens and to nurture our emotional woes, and not let it fester.

Lisa said...

Gary - your comment really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing it.