“The past is where you learned the lesson. The future is where you apply the lesson. Don’t give up in the middle”.
Isn’t that the challenge? We get discouraged. The trek seems impossible. It seems as though no matter how hard you try, or how sincere your heart is, someone misunderstands or misinterprets you. Life is like that, though. We do not get 100% success in life. But we must keep going. The application of the lessons in life takes blood, sweat, and tears.
Oh, the struggles of life can be exhausting or they can be exhilarating. But we keep pushing forward, running our race. It is our calling. It is our clarion call, to continue on. St. Paul knew all about that, didn’t he?
For in his letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 4: 6-8) he wrote. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
I tell my students to keep on pushing, to keep on trying. I tell them to move on through the frustrations, the boredom, the challenges, the successes, the failures, the progress, the setbacks, and the bullying.
You see, my heart understands their fears and sorrows. I understand how they feel when they feel completely worthless when they fail. I understand how they feel when someone takes the air out of their balloons. It breaks their hearts, these tender-hearted folks I know. I tell them that they know and God knows about their struggles, dedication, and hard work. I tell them that despite the fact that someone they trusted excludes them or makes fun of them, that they have worth. But you see, when pain is carved into us, it leaves a mark on our hearts. Yes, I know that God heals that and restores that.
The great sculptures of the world were carved with chisels, not chamois cloths. However, the greatest sculptors in the world (in my opinion Michelangelo and Rodin) stopped their chiseling to wipe away the residues with their cloths. Otherwise the marble would have been damaged.
The residue of bullying does the same thing. The residue of pain brought on by bullying, being minimized, or excluded from a group they thought they were part of leaves a certain kind of damage. It is often for the usual school type or societal reasons ~ the group in question doesn’t think the person is attractive enough, or talented enough, or it is a social status thing. When the student’s social group is all together, and they are taking pictures of everyone BUT her, or they all move away from her over and over, on the playground,at the lunchroom table, in forming small groups in class for assignments, or handing out invites to a birthday party, the student left out is damaged.
You may not see it that way. At one point in time, I did not either. But you see, when you are suddenly excluded in ways you did not see coming, you are understandably unprepared. It more than throws you for a loop. Of course we often say in reaction to that statement that only God’s opinion counts, and that the mistreatment says more about the other person than the person being mistreated. Or we say, surely you must have misunderstood….as if the mistreated person imagined the mistreatment. This only further serves to minimize the heart of the mistreated person.
There are times in this life when the way someone treats folks is just plain wrong. It is bullying. It is minimizing. Healing of the relationship cannot be completed unless the person doing the mistreating realizes and believes that (s)he has wronged someone and hurt them. That is the frustrating part, of course.
The question for the person that has been hurt becomes “when and how do I convince this person that (s)he has hurt me? Will (s)he even care? Will anything change? Will the person forever after say humiliating things like, ‘well, susie-q, do you want to join us? I wouldn’t want you to feel left out. I know how sensitive you are’. That is the dilemma that bullied or excluded people often face.
If the people who have hurt others through their actions, words, or excluding ways want to make amends, they have to stop saying or thinking that the person they wronged is “too sensitive”. They have to stop saying “I’m sorry if I hurt you”. there is the enraging word; IF. As long as they believe that if is the appropriate word, the mistreated person cannot feel restoration from the damager. Again, I understand that only God has true restorative powers.
But you see, we are called to live in this world and make change and evangelize in this world. That was part of the purpose of Pentecost. So we must push on. I tell folks that even though they have been hurt, they need to dust off and move on. That does not mean that they must be a willing participant in bullying. They can confront, or they can walk away, or they can wall off a bit. But they must continue to reach out to others ~ and try to recognize the warning signals that someone may have become habitually narcissistic or self-absorbed. You cannot run your race if you insist on being in the lane next to someone that continues to trip you or shove you down. You need an ally. You need a running buddy. You need to stop at the rest station, have some water and a snack. You can only run your race.
I think the hardest part is this. Let’s say that someone you thought was your ally, friend, advocate, etc hurts you. You begin to wonder if you imagined that the person cared about you all along. It makes you doubt your abilities to discern. For awhile you overlook the behavior. But after repeated digs and hurts you realize that it is what it is. The person is not going to change. Admonishment and discussion is only going to make the person hurt you more.
You take it to God and ask God to help the person. But running your race does not mean that you must continue to put yourself in the position of emotional availability to the person. Here is my analogy. If the person keeps pushing you under the water, you will eventually drown.
But we must not drown. We must find a way to swim towards Him. But it is important to find a way to keep swimming. The hard part sometimes is finding the strength to swim when you have been hurt. Personally, I do not have the strength to face down the demeaning people. I do not have the ability to explain to them how hurtful they have been. I have tried that in the past, but they very successfully end up belittling me or denying it.
Many of my students have that same issue. I tell them this. God is your ally, always. Somewhere, in that classroom, in your neighborhood, in your church, God has placed an ally for you. Find that person.
I say to them, “Do not allow people who demean you to break your heart. That is the hard part. It is hard because those are the people who have already broken your heart, and you are trying to heal. But we must heal.” So I tell them; and I tell you. Any pain that has come your way from people you loved and trusted, put it in God’s hands. Know that you have value and worth. God does not take His eyes off of you, not even for a second. I ask you this weekend to keep some people in your prayers. First of all, keep in your prayers the folks who have been emotionally ambushed by people they thought would never, ever do that to them. They are in shock, and may very well have suffered a trauma because of it. I ask you to pray for healing and restoration for them. I ask you to also pray for the ones who belittled and demeaned them, and continue to do so.
Psychiatrists say that this kind of behavior comes from deep seated hurt. So pray for their restoration as well.
But most of all, let us each try to use the weekend to regroup and restore. For we must continue to run our race….On your marks, get set, GOOOOOOOOOO!