Tag Archives: Blameshifting

Forgiveness…Can’t be done..Or can it? “Victim” to Victor

I was literally gasping for air…physically choking on my own avalanche of emotion and confusion.  What did they just say? I can’t grasp this? What does this mean? Does it mean what I think it does? The relationship was severed….instantly with nothing I could do but reel physically in shock and the crushing kaleidoscope of emotions that were threatening to drown me….. trying to come up with a way to take the next step, let alone walk to my car and drive away…

I had trusted that person with my soul, my deepest pain, my heart, and they had simply dismissed me with a “flick of the hand.”  They had promised to support and help and assured me they were trustworthy…. and then..BANG they were not!!!

….when I most needed them to be.  It reminded me of the words of a song

“I leaned my back up against an oak…I thought it was a trusty tree…but first, it bent and then it broke (Bob Dylan).”

Only in my case, there was no bend!  It was an instant SNAP and CRASH!  What was even more crushing is I had no one to talk to about it. No one who could understand what this terrible tear meant in my soul. Part of me died that day and I was sure it would never EVER revive again!  The ensuing weeks and months were lived in a mindless numb shell as I carried on the functions of life without a soul.  I literally felt like a switch had been snapped between rational logic and emotion.

Those of you who know me may be shocked to know I felt that way..after all,…I am the MK (missionary kid) who knows more verses and Biblical songs by heart than most people I know…. because I was raised memorizing them and loved singing so have been called a walking hymnbook by some… But that was my reality at that point. My world was instantly catapulted into an emotional vault that words could not touch for a time.

I had been trying to learn how to trust again and the one person I thought I could trust to help me, had proved untrustworthy and walked away.  The picture I had in my mind was of being rowed out on a dark night into deep water and then told to get out of the boat and start swimming. The assurances of support and guidance were there until I was in the water and then… they were GONE! I was left to find my way back to land in the dark in water over my head… good thing I had learned how to swim as a child… but in the depths and not being sure which was land????…. God led me back to land in ways no person could.

I felt like I had been taken in for open heart surgery and then left on the table to figure out how to sew myself up, get up and walk out of there without any help from anyone. I did sew up and walk out by God’s grace alone. But in the process infection set in… and I was in a dark place of confusion between indescribable grief, despair and anguish once I processed what had happened. I would certainly never trust THEM again or ANYONE else for that matter.  Because I had no one to talk to at that point, the pain, gut-wrenching sense of loss, and confusion got buried into deep crevices in my soul like puss does in infection.  God left me alone with that dark place for a time, because we all need to know how helpless we really are before God can do anything with us… before He intervened … but that is for later. It took a full year for the emotional confusion to clear enough for me to fully grasp truth again and for God to use some wise people to carefully reinvite me into the world of trust again.

I was driving to a place of retreat and on the way was begging Him to help me out of this, to find a way back to hope and light and life if it was ever possible to recover from this kind of utter crushing? I was listening to the audio version of Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart.  Trying to figure out how to get past this to a point of forgiveness… I finally understood in a powerful way how Jesus felt when his disciples deserted him in his hour of greatest need for emotional support. Andy’s book was a HUGE help in unraveling how to think about all this, but it took time for me to absorb the truths while battling the emotional blocks.  My mind still whirled and at times would be caught in a downward spiral of “How could they? and I  didn’t deserve this!!!  They completely misunderstood and misused me!! and I am all alone!! and No one understands!!”  You may also be familiar with the  “beat me up” or “beat them up.” ideas that plague the mind in these dark moments of the soul? The Psalms are replete with David’s thoughts like this.

I was aware in the fog of emotion that I was in a battle of a lifetime to regain control of my mind and in doing so I would be able to stop this emotional volcano. I had no idea how to do it. So I begged God for help and below is what I did.  (I have now told enough people these steps that I thought it was time to put it in one place so I can send people here who ask me how I was able to, not only forgive, but enjoy spending time with this person again.)

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons
are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end,
but by His making us wait,
bearing with us in love and patience
until we are able to honestly pray
what He taught His disciples to pray:
Thy will be done.”
~ Elizabeth Elliot
(for those who may not know her story, her husband was killed senselessly.
You can read about it, in this book. Through Gates of Splendor)
I love how God patiently waits when we are in these dark places until we can see Him and then gently helps us to walk out of it. He truly is the Gentle Shepherd!
I  have learned a great deal in the months and years since then, but to begin with, this was the first most important step and lesson. .. I can say much more about the Biblical verses. I knew those but I had never been in a place like this where words meant nothing and I could not control the raging emotional overload. A pressure cooker had exploded all over my soul and I had to find a way to put the pieces back together.  I will develop more of the Biblical part of this in the coming weeks but for now, this had to be step one!
 I am going to be very practical with this because the pat “you just need to forgive them” was simply not working!!
I needed a real way to get out of this tunnel of emotion!!!
The first thing I needed to think was “not forgiving was actually giving ammunition to them. It was hurting me, not them. It was allowing them to continue to ruin my life.” That was NOT ok with me. I NEVER wanted them to ever have any control over me again!
Once I fully realized that I was not willing to give them that kind of control over my emotions and mind anymore. They had betrayed me.  Jesus Never did. He had to be the controller of my mind and emotions!
Then I learned that forgiveness is a process… it’s not a one-time Act. Every time thoughts of that person came into my mind I had to intentionally tell God I needed help to forget them.
Then I had to force my mind to go somewhere else regardless of how my emotions were raging.  It truly was one of the most difficult things I have ever done!!! But I was determined to win by God’s grace!
I knew I could not take it on all at once so I picked one the specific times of day that were often trigger points. Usually, times when I could be alone with my thoughts, like when getting dressed or showering or driving to work.
I picked…
driving to work time.
Then EVERY day for 3 weeks, I refused to allow thoughts of that situation to control my mind for that time.  When a thought would hit, I would intentionally force my mind elsewhere by praying, singing good songs, like these ones,   Beside Gentle Streams: Hope for Hurting Hearts.  or this one Don’t be Afraid, reciting verses, calling someone to encourage them, or things like that.
The first day was impossible but I  got a few mins of relief, the rest of the week was nearly impossible..lots of tears…begging God for help…
When God wants to do something big,
He starts with an impossibility,
then it is difficult,
and then it is done!
~Hudson Taylor
The second week got a little bit better. I would play good music, I would think about the things I loved…I would pray, I would sing or play good music.
By the third week, I could see the thought pattern was finally breaking and with it some of the deep crushing emotion. So I picked another point of the day that I used to dwell on those thoughts and went after it in the same way. It was easier but still a challenge.
I kept working at it till each point of the day was broken, despite setbacks, and in time the pain Eased, the soul-crushing grief became manageable and I could move on.  I learned the real truth of the verse “having your senses exercised…Hebrews 5:14” (that word exercise in greek is the word we get  “gym” from. We develop brain cells just the way we develop other muscles in the body by working them which gives all new meaning to Romans 12:1-2 and especially the phrase “renewing your mind…”.  I have learned lots about the science behind mind, emotion connection as well. (more later)
My motivator was that these people were no longer allowed to control my emotions and my life. God was the only one who got to do that!
Thinking this way rather than trying to determine whether or not they deserved it, helped,….they didn’t deserve forgiveness…neither did I….none of us “deserve” it, we were all eternally condemned till Jesus died for us… We have to turn to Him, recognize him as God, believe that his death on the cross paid the penalty and ask for His forgiveness ourselves to guarantee a place in heaven. Keeping this truth in focus also helped!
It really had to be about getting back my life, my heart, my emotions, My Hope in Christ, My joy in Him, my ability to serve Him, separate from any other person.
What God has done since then is more writing and God’s work in progress.
Gentle Shepherd
Oh, the Lord is my Gentle Shepherd showing me the way.
Through the darkness, through the sunshine,
He will never lead astray.
He is with me ev’ry moment, He’s in my heart to stay.
Oh I feel His arms around me, and I hear Him gently say:
~~~~~
I am the Gentle Shepherd watching over you.
I am the Gentle Shepherd and I’ll surely see you through.
I have been where you’re going and I know what you have to do.
Oh, I am the Gentle Shepherd, and I gave my life for you.
~~~~~
If you’re looking for a Saviour, looking for a friend,
Oh let Jesus be your Shepherd, He will love you till the end.
The door is always open, come now and don’t delay.
And He’ll be your loving Shepherd; He will guide you all the way.
~~~~~
He is the Gentle Shepherd, watching over you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He’ll surely see you through.
He has been where you’re going, and he knows what you have to do.
Oh, He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He gave His life for you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd.
words by Duane Nichols, music by Duane Nichols and Mary Lynn Van Gelderen
recorded on Come and Sing by the Stouffer Men.

When someone thinks they needed you and you did not do what they wanted.

I was reading a blog today that talked about dealing with the accusations of someone who was demanding attention and the blogger discussed the fact that the individual who was attacking was essentially not trusting God enough.  Having experienced some things in my life these are my thoughts.

Several topics are needing to be addressed here, Forgiveness, trust, boundaries, true love, confrontation, blame-shifting, mercy.

Having experienced my own situations like this and unfortunately once being the one making the accusations I have a double-sided perspective on this that has caused me to pursue answers. These are things I have learned.

When someone accuses me I start by asking a very important question.

  1. Am I guilty of this selfishness that has been levied against me. If so, how must I change and be more Christlike? If not, how must I carefully confront the sin? You can’t do this till you ask some careful questions because “he who answers a matter before he fully hears it is a fool..” Proverbs 18:13
  2. Have I misread her confusion as accusation. 1Co_2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? There are situations where people genuinely do not know how to engage in relationships and I need to be willing to deal with some anger to help them see how to relate as adults but only if they are demonstrating the humility to change and look at their relational misunderstanding. I was in a situation once where I was seeking counsel and at a time of very real need and confusion reached out to someone who said she would help. She left me hanging instead of following through on her commitment. It left me confused because she had invited me to ask.  When I came back with a hurt, questioning email (never a good idea BTW– go talk to people who say they care at that level and Biblically go back again with someone else if you can’t get resolution Matt 18) she accused me of manipulation. I can honestly say, as God is my witness, because of the things I was dealing with, that manipulation was the farthest thing from my mind. I needed genuine help.  That accusation devastated me.  To discern this takes two things.. Patience and careful questioning.  The next time this happened the new person was more mature and wiser and started asking questions and went to the root of my confusion knowing what she was really dealing with (first by not assuming I was intent on evil thinking) and with genuine loving, carefully-crafted Biblical questions and guidance helped me gain a whole new level of understanding in relationships.

I have also been in relationships that despite continual attempts to help them see and change, they refused and asserted their rights.  Then the Word of God is also clear. (More below)

  1. Forgiveness cannot be granted unless it is asked for on the human level, otherwise every person on this planet gets to go to heaven, no matter what, because God is the ultimate forgiver. So what does this look like biblically?

Forgiveness is first Vertical. Mar 11:25  And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mar 11:26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.  Before God I choose to hold no animosity towards this person. We all MUST do this. This means letting go of my right to retribution before God where He can truly make it right.

Forgiveness is also Horizontal. Luk 17:3  Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

That means I rebuke the other person (in a spirit of meekness knowing I can also be tempted Gal 6:1) But s/he also has to repent. Which means s/he has to ask for forgiveness before I can grant it.  This does not mean I am holding on to anything because I already placed it before God. It simply means that I can’t say “I forgive you” to someone who does not ask for it.  God does not forgive us until we ask Him.  A very important point here is the term “repent” which means change your mind AND change your direction. If people ask for forgiveness but they make no attempt to change, they have NOT repented and you need to consider if you should “cast them out” (Proverbs 19:25; 22:10) of the ability to associate with you or if you are “casting pearls before swine and they will rend you”(Matt 7:6) so you must flee if they continue in sin. (More under boundaries below).

  1. Forgiveness is not a one-time act. It is an ongoing choice to not engage in negative thoughts about that person and as things are triggered, even when they are not there, we have to choose once again to take it back to God until it no longer triggers us.  For some that is a once or twice process because the wound is a skin scrape. For others it is an ongoing process because the wound is deep, like heart surgery, and like a physical wound, needs time to fully heal.  Modern medical research has shown that the same area of the brain is activated when you suffer an emotional wound as is activated when you suffer a physical wound. Emotional wounds do leave scars inside that need to heal. They cannot be seen but they are VERY real!
  2. Thankfully God has never commanded that we trust anyone but Him. Trust is earned and can be broken. Once broken it must be re-earned and as Proverbs 18:19 says “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.” There is a reason for this!  It is not about the brother being bitter. It is because offenses deeply wound and healing takes time and can be very hard to do.  This is completely separate from Love. Unconditional love is NOT the same as unconditional trust and just like you don’t cast your pearls before swine, you do not trust someone who has not earned it by long use and reliability. Or a demonstration of true repentance in action.
  3. Healthy relational engagement means that at times we have to say “no more!” Jesus got away by Himself at times. He eluded the angry, accusing crowd. He confronted the accusing Pharisees. In Acts, Paul escaped in a basket from his accusers. He confronted his accusers as well. More examples are in the Word. The verses “They went out from us because they were not of us (1 John 2:19).” and “cast out the scorner so contention will cease.” (Pro 22:10) come to mind here.  We hate to call a fellow believer a scorner, but at times this is actually the case.
  4. True love does not allow sin upon a brother. (Lev 19:17) Love is not all mushy. It is compassionate and it is also. It is also neutheteo, (the greek word “admonish” in Romans 15:14 I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another) means able also to exhort one another and means at times confronting Jude 21-22 says “on some have compassion making a difference.” But it also says “others pull from the fire, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”  Compassion comes first but repeated unrighteousness needs to feel the fire.
  5. Questions prick the conscience, accusations harden the will.
  6. One of the most gracious experiences I have ever had was when I reacted in anger to another person’s failure to follow through and she responded in anger back, initially, but later came back to me and did what I would consider over restitution for the offense because she cared more about the relationship then her agenda to prove I was demanding too much. I needed to learn that, I, in fact, was not considering everything that was on her schedule and needed to think more of what she needed. She put so much value on the relationship that she sacrificed later in a way that greatly humbled me!  It taught me a whole new level of what love looks like!  It let me know how much more I NEED to learn of what AGAPE looks like. She did this because she knew I was invested in truth and in the relationship with her as fellow believers. She would not do this with someone who was unrepentant.

Just my thoughts😉