Friday, July 27, 2012

Lessons I’ve Learned



       There was time in my life when I allowed another’s lies to define who I was.

       That was a lifetime ago; and that time has ended.


       I don’t know why God put this on my heart today. Maybe with all the violence and ugliness going on in the world, we all need to be reminded to love one another. Maybe someone needed the message I had to impart. 


       We learn, as Christians, to see Jesus when we look at people; but how many of us actually have that thought running rampant through our mind every second of our busy days?


       My former mother-in-law never missed an opportunity to voice to my mother that she told her son he should not have married me – and this was while we were married. Do you think she was seeing Jesus when she spoke those words to another mother? Truth be told, it would actually hurt me to voice that sentiment to another mother. I identify with other’s feelings on too deep a level to ever consider voicing such a hurtful comment.


A "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) bracelet
A "What Would Jesus Do?" 

       I remember a time when my former husband and one of his co-workers went fishing for the day. At the end of the day, after cleaning the catch, we shared a meal with the other family. As women will do, we talked as we stood in the kitchen preparing the meal. I was surprised – or perhaps not – when she very candidly told me that her husband had told her of a conversation he had with my then husband. In that conversation, he said that I was a bitch. There is no other way to phrase that particular word – my apologies. She went on to tell me that her husband said that he was told I did nothing but scream and yell and fuss all of the time.


       Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not handle matters in that particular way. I am a person who holds their anger inside. I rarely ever show my anger or hurt. I detach and become very quite. That doesn’t mean I am not human. I am, and I have been known to slam a few doors – loud and hard- did I mention loud and hard - but screaming is not something I do. I do not like confrontation, and I avoid it whenever possible.

Ephesians 4:29 – “Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.” 

       I asked this woman, if after getting the chance to know me, if she still thought that I was this kind of person. I did not let on, but I was extremely hurt when she replied that she did in fact still believe all that she had heard, because she did not feel that my former husband would lie – which said to me that she thought I was lying when I denied the allegations. What I wanted to do at that time was grab my daughters and leave. I did not want to stay in a place that was detrimental to my emotional well-being. I could feel myself shutting down, and pasting on that fake smile.

       What I did was hide my hurt and anger inside of me, and stayed for dinner. I never told anyone how devastating that conversation was to me. Little did I know that it would become one of many such conversations in the years to come.

Colossians 4:6 – “Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person.”

       Ever since that night, when the thoughts come back to haunt me, I get angry with myself. I am angry because I did not stand up for myself. I am angry because I did not confront my ex-husband. I am angry because another person believed his lies. I am angry because I let what this person believed bother me. I am angry because I wish the memory would vanish. And, that, is not very Christian like either.

       And, then I think, maybe the memory comes back to remind me that I am worthy. I am worthy of Jesus’ love. I do not need people like this woman in my life because they make me feel like less than. And, to feel less than, is an insult to God. It is also a lesson that we need to know and remember. Lies hurt; lies maim; lies destroy; and lies kill. Lies destroy a person’s spirit; what lies within.

Proverbs 14:1 – “A wise woman builds her house, while a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands.”

       For a while, the WWJD – What would Jesus do – bracelets were extremely popular. It seemed as though everyone was wearing some form or another of the symbol. I wonder if our actions would be significantly different if we had WWJD branded on our foreheads. While it sounds like a farfetched idea, I urge you to think about it for a moment. When we opened our mouths to lie, or to gossip, would we continue or would we close our mouths?

       This story brings me to a lesson we need to remember. Everyone is of God. And, to insult or lie or belittle another person, is to belittle God, our creator. For that reason, when we see or speak to others, we need to remember one of the greatest lessons of all – look for Jesus in each face we see and not be led astray.

       As always, I encourage you to share your opinions and experience, and/or questions. Remember to show courtesy to others in your comments.

Donna


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9 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I (as well as most I'd guess) have experienced some of that in the past. It is hurtful and it angers me that I didn't stand up for myself. Once I decided to do away with toxic relationships and to realize I deserve so much more, I've been much happier and less stressed. One of those was a long time friendship, but it's better this way. This is a great reminder for how we should speak with people and about people. Like mom always said, "If you can't say something nice, then say nothing at all." :-)

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    1. Your mom's phrase is one of my favorites and I try to always have it running in my head when I want to say something not nice. When I was diagnosed with the two blood disorders, something in me changed. I decided I was no longer going to be silent, that I was going to speak up for myself. I had to end a friendship too.

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  2. I can feel the pain as you stood there and listened to that...because that has happened to me, too. Not by my hubby, but by someone else. I'm sure that many of your readers can identify. Thank you for being willing to share this, knowing that someone needed to read it. Your words are so true - we need to search (and with some people it seems to take a lot of searching :)) for the goodness, for that spark of decency within those we meet. They are His children, too, and we should treat each other as His family. Thanks, Donna!

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    1. Snoodles - you would think that a person, after spending time with you, could tell what kind of person you are. I guess some are incapable of it and I no longer want to value their opinion or let it define me. Everyone is not going to like me and I can live with that.

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  3. Love this post! If you live long enough someone will take an opportunity to lie about you and this behavior is nothing but destructive to everyone. I love the fact that you remind us that everyone is of God. Everyone should be treated with respect.

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    1. Thank you Amy for stopping by and commenting. I think that God was guiding me with this post and reminding me as well as anyone who stopped to read it that we are all of God. Thanks for your words.

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  4. Michelle SanchoYesterday 10:11 AM
    I also believe sometimes people and their lies are being used as tools of the enemy. Lately, I have felt under attack in different areas in my life. It helps to remind myself, the individual is of God, their words and actions are not. In turn, it has opened my heart to treat them with love and forgiveness and has healed my own heart in the process. Thanks for sharing. 

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  5. Hi Donna - just popping in to grab a few images for your jambalaya recipe in the August issue of Ruby . . . . I couldn't capture the ones you sent me in the email so this should work ;o)

    Again I must tell you that I so admire your honesty and courage - your willingness to open your heart and speak the truth, even though it is often painful, and brings back haunting memories. I hope we can chat one day because I remain the one who keeps it all in (the memories of years ago), put on that pretend smile when I have to be around those people, and I have learned in self-defense just to smile a lot and be very quiet. Fortunately my current situation is one of safety, security, faithfulness and love, but occasionally when I have to return to that other world (as I did this past week for a funeral) all of that pain comes flooding back into my heart. You, my dear friend, are being used of God to bring hope and healing to many. Keep up the good work! BIG Hugs, Nina

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  6. PS May I use your photo and bio from the top of your blog for the magazine? I need to include you in our writers' section so if there is something your would rather I use, please send it to me at editor@rubyforwomen.com Thanks, Sweetie ;o) N

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