"The Lord will vindicate his people, and will have compassion on his servants. "
Many of us have experienced relationships like this: someone we love acts toward us in ways that continually damage.
It’s one thing to forgive and move on from a wound we received in the past, and another animal entirely when we get hurt again and again, in the same place, a scab not quite healed over before it’s ripped off again.
Margaret came to me five years ago with the following story: There is a person in my life who I love with all my heart, but in this relationship I struggle to keep a full cup myself. They are family, the situation is complicated and tender. But learning to have compassion for this other person begins with having compassion for myself.
A nasty divorce spanning most of my childhood set the stage for our current situation. My mother was deeply emotionally wounded by my father, and carried that pain into her parenting of my sister and me.
Contact with the ex (my dad) dropped to nil—maybe a week a year, far below what the court had decided.
Any efforts on our parts to connect with our absent parent, even recounting fond memories, were seen by our mother as attacks on her legitimacy and a discounting of her pain. And what emotional intimacy we shared was often exploited—it kept us locked into the family unit, not believing we could have our needs filled elsewhere, least of all with our absentee father.
A few short years prior, I felt part of a happy, perfect family. Suddenly one parent was effectively gone. My relationship with the other became a labyrinth of confusion—love down this path, hurt down the other, and at my young age I couldn’t find the rhyme or reason to it.
Childhood gifted me a number of unhealthy survival mechanisms, which still follow me around today: a deep fear of conflict (because conflict often meant someone would leave), constant apologies and guilt for things I’m not truly responsible for, and a voice in the back of my mind telling me no matter what I do, who I am, who I become, it will never be enough.
The scripture says, "Never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God's wrath." (Romans 12:19) Notice if you continue to see people in an old light, or try to pay them back, you are closing the door for God to do anything for you. If you're going to let God handle it, you can't have the attitude of "I'm not going to let anyone hurt me again." That will prevent God from avenging someone who hurt you or opening a new door to happiness. If you want to keep that door open so God can bring in justice into your life, you have to totally turn it over to him.
Maybe you've been working through a situation and you've been doing the right thing for a long time. Perhaps this has been going on month and month, maybe year after year, and now your wondering, "Is God ever going to change this situation? Is God ever going to bring about justice? does He even care about me?"
Don't give up! This is what I told Margaret. Keep doing the right thing. God is building character in you, and you are passing that test. Remember the greater the struggle, the greater the reward. The Scripture says, "Don't get tired of doing what's right, for in due season, you will reap if you don't faint." (Galatians 6:9) Don't grow weary; trust God to bring justice in his timing, not yours.
Last week I was strolling through the park trying to gain some more daily "steps" for my Fit-bit when I ran into Margaret. She had three children playing and laughing on the slide. I sat for moment to catch up. She had married two years ago and once her first was born she understood the turmoil her mother went through. That relationship was patched up a year ago she explained. Once she had a family of her own, it was easier to sit down and really listen to what her mother had to say. "My life is fantastic now! I'm so glad I let God handle everything! I don't think I would have understood her if I didn't have children of my own."
This Week's Meditation:
Let miracles replace all grievances
Meditate on this for several minutes a day. Allow various thoughts to come into your mind. If you are especially upset state:
Let me behold my Savior in this one.
He is the only one who can lead me to the Holy light in which he stands,
that I may join him.
Remind yourself of healing each moment. God has you in his arms always.