Hey there! How are all y’all doing? Things are going pretty well here. It’s been cloudy all weekend, but not much rain. That’s actually okay here. I was able to take a beautiful drive through an impossible detour to meet with my spiritual director this afternoon. We sat at a small table at the edge of a little pond, surrounded on the far side by trees and teeming with fish and dragonflies. It was such a beautiful and peaceful setting. It was a bit warm, but cloudy, with a cool breeze rippling the surface of the water, so it was quite pleasant. Grab a glass of sweet tea or something and find a relaxing spot!
Lots going through my mind and heart at the moment. Our relationships with others can get very complicated really quickly. How often do we jump in and try to give unsolicited advice, and then we are hurt when that advice is not taken, or worse yet if it is immediately rebuffed? What is the root of our advice-giving? What is our motive? Maybe we truly care for the person, and just get a little carried away with trying to help them. Maybe they really do need help.
But that being said, are we speaking truly from love, or a sort of veiled pride that makes us think we can ‘fix’ the other person’s life?
What is our role? The only consistent thing I can find in the Scriptures is to love one another, as Christ loved us. In the Gospel of John, especially in chapters 13 and 15, then again in the epistle of 1 John, we are told over and over to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, and show honor to one another. In 1 Peter 4:8, it says, “Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (RSVCE)
What if the other person doesn’t want our advice or our help? We get to choose what we want – do we want to be right? Or do we want to be happy and at peace? Does that person have to take our counsel? Or can we let God truly be in control? Are we trying to take God’s place, attempting to change the other person, albeit maybe unknowingly and innocently ‘just trying to help!’?
Has the person ‘wronged’ you – in reality or in spirit? Can you forgive? Will you forgive and not bring it up again? Is there still pain attached? Do you need healing so you are free to simply bring them to God and let Him heal them and change their heart and behavior?
As I said previously, it gets complicated quickly. Our own hearts get all tied up in knots of rejection, pride, and frustration. After all, we know best, right?
Or do we?
How well do we really know that other person? Do we honestly have the wisdom to judge their motives? Do we have the right to tell them how to live their life? I wasn’t there when they were created, and I wasn’t there when they were living through experiences that affected them clear up through today. Only God knows each of us inside and out; only God has the right to make those sort of course corrections in a life.
Now, hear me, I’m not saying we shouldn’t warn people of blatant sin that will end up harming them or possibly even take their life or the life of another. I’m talking about the ‘little’ judgements we make, often times unconsciously, about how others live. We judge their clothing, their driving skills, their taste in nearly everything, the way they spend their money, the way they wear their makeup, how they raise their children, the way speak, the immature way they act… the list can be endless.
Has someone rejected your advice, or lashed out at you and wounded you? Are you nursing a grudge against them, even if the outward relationship looks just fine? Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgiveness does not excuse their actions as right or justified. Forgiveness gives us the freedom to love, gives us peace, gives us freedom from the pain of the encounter. It takes the sting out of our own hearts. Holding on to these things, rehearsing them in our minds, usually doesn’t even affect the other person; it only robs us of the peace, joy and love that God intends for us.
If you’ve been hurt and need to forgive but can’t get there, find a pastor or a priest. Talk it out with them. Let them help you pray through it to gain a forgiving heart of love and mercy that brings you peace and joy. So, there’s the question, what do you want? Peace is right there waiting for you to accept it.