Why People Don't Listen
Commitment and Communication
Reducing the Hurt
You know that harsh words can hurt people deeply. Today's emphasis on violence and pain seem to fuel the demand for a constant diet of it as entertainment. In reality, most of us find it frightening on a personal level.
I too, have experienced the pain of being tossed aside by partners pointing a finger rather than looking for reconciliation.. I love too much, it is the way I am wired. No amount of counseling or self-help books make a dent in my extravagance when it comes to caring for others more than myself. That is my choice, and I am beyond trying to change what God values.
The worst relational methods are applauded while kindness and gentleness are perceived as weakness and/or stupidity.. Relationships shouldn't be reduced to contracts or settlements by manipulation when it's over. They should be showered with grace for their investment and selfless devotion. They should be honored and acknowledged for their sacrifice of time and love. Faithfulness to their commitment "til death do we part", is all too often deemed of no value.
There is a need for a shift in our culture. Just as the principles of The Power of One changed an entire nation, we can begin believing that making a difference can start with us. When we choose the road of forgiveness and reconciliation rather than justification of malicious intent of the heart, greed and hatred won't run rampant.
When engaged in the hostile exchange between spouses, everyone loses. All of us are affected from time to time by misunderstandings, but when we take sides, we may be assuming something that is entirely inaccurate. We rarely hear the other side's story, or even begin to ask the probing questions necessary for reconciliation Drama rules, and often, based on one biased account, we consolidate forces in isolating and punishing the imagined "offender" on behalf of the "injured" one.
How do I know? I have gotten in the middle of things trying to be a mediator. I have been the object of wrath and I have made assumptions with lack of information. After reaping the awful consequences of broken relationships on both sides, I learned some painful lessons. They work it out and then resent my interference, when they come to their senses and find peace. I lose both friends. You know what I mean, right?
Families, it's time to wake up. No one is always right, thoughtful, generous and loving. It takes two. We have a tendency to take the side of the one to whom we are most acquainted and idealistically overlook their behavior when we know ourselves that it has been out of control and we haven't cared enough to say the hard things when it was going on. Look at the factors, what is the motive?
Direct communication is the only way out. We have to practice it ourselves before we can help anyone else. Other people's business is not ours unless they invite us in. When they do, we have to tell the truth, even when it hurts. After it hurts, it has the potential to heal.
Why to we hesitate to offer to sit down with the two of them? It might be uncomfortable. Funny thing is, it will probably never happen, because they just might be embarassed enough to decide to work it out. That's ok, of course, but you may not be popular, particularly if you know the secret workings.. Often, when you suggest this, the one who is angry and gathering up ammunition, doesn't really want the truth. They want to be right, and to be applauded for their "sufferage", which they have in actuality perpetrated on the other.
If it doesn't work, it is often the one with the most money who "wins". It happens every day in courts across America. Control freaks who abuse their partners into submission while keeping it a secret from their business associates and family by portraying them as weak and stupid. Someone has to take the blame, if they are to maintain their stature.
There are some guidelines for conflict resolution that go all the way back to Jesus' time. I have seen them work, when applied the right way. There are actually many of them in the Bible, but Matthew 18 covers these situations. It states that we are to go to the person we have the offense with and talk to them one on one! What a concept!
We go to everyone else first, and then are surprised when the other person is difficult because the whole world knows their business. If we are honest with ourselves, what we really wanted was to get them to admit their heart was not right so we don't have to take a look at our own and as a result, their actions were not appropriate.
That's how it works, because part of healthy relationship is having the trust between you to discuss and resolve difficult things. Two people rarely see things eye to eye, but love helps bring them together.
When a person is offended, forgiveness is required as an act of grace, to intervene and change hearts. To be able to see the incident through the eyes of another, and to understand the impact on them, positively or negatively, is humbling and healing at the same time. If you won't, you don't, and it just might hurt you down the road somewhere.
All these things run through filters that we have developed over years of interaction. They are ours, and we esteem them highly, even when they are not necessarily benefitting us. Some need to be shattered, and that for some can be frightening enough to let it not happen.
Grace helps both realize that it could have been either one who acted inappropriately because we all have shortcomings, therefore, we need each other to call us to higher thinking about how we treat each other. The result of such consideration is not only irresistable (although sometimes not immediately), it is conciliatory in it's nature and working towards what the best outcome is. That is not decided by one person and then imposed on another.
The sayings that time heals all wounds, is only true when forgiveness is extended. The alternative saying time wounds all heels, is also true, when you consider unforgiveness, for we are destined to repeat what we do not learn from. So sad for the next person who comes our way.
Forgiveness frees you from bondage to your own suppositions and assumptions which hold others hostage to your expectations. No one can behave exactly the way you want them too. You would think we would have learned that by now through experiences with our children, but we forget.
Why will we not tell the truth? Even more confusing is why we are so afraid to confront the fact both are in error if the relationship is severed? I think the answer is simple: we fear the repercussions of the "stronger" party. We become part of the committee of hate, and we champion the one who makes the most commotion.
Whoever is doing the most talking is usually the one in the wrong. When you are acting rightly, you have little need to defend. Pride defends possessions, position, and popularity. Humility rarely does, even when it is provoked. Humility takes the low road, the lonelier of the two, the least visible.
How many times have we sided with the wrong, just because it was comfortable and easier, the road to no conflict. We are called to a peaceful life, but at the expense of the abused or mistreated? Then we realize that the louder, more dominating person is just an overgrown child, who has been indulging themselves whether it be an affair, financial deceit, or obsessions with drugs, alcohol or pornography.
When two people are not in agreement, look at the history. How can you ignore the past? They both need counseling, help, and spiritual guidance to find their way back. It can be done, but it takes a softening of the heart, and each one taking responsibilty for the failure.
No marriage can be restored without honest confession of inadequacies in the love department, acknowledgement of pain caused, and sincere desire to do it differently.
We don't do that, though, instead we offer our children as casualties. We teach them "what not to do" in relationships, and teach them that if you have enough money, everything will be taken care of, you can just hire a lawyer and get yourself out of the mess.
Except there will always be another mess. When you move on, your baggage goes with you, and it is paid for by your children. You can't get past it, what you teach your children about life will be perpetuated. If not in this generation, then the next. You may not be around to see it, but it will take place.
So before you take that next breath and express your nasty words, stop and count to ten. Ask yourself, why am I really saying this? What am I hiding? What did I not do that I am feeling guilty for? What can I do differently that might change the entire course of my life?
You just might find that the best thing to say is, "I am sorry". Consider the possibilities, the energy you will have from not rehearsing the drama, the offense, the hatred. All the negative will be turned into positive creativity that could be used to change yourself and your world.
The Power of One? Just sayin!