Thursday, June 30, 2011

Family: Sometimes They Hurt You

Recently I've discovered a truth that I've tried for years to keep from myself: family can sometimes hurt me.

Maybe it isn't so much that I've not known it, but I haven't wanted to admit it. Admitting it means I may have to take steps to do something about it and that's what I truly was trying to avoid admitting in the first place.

Family comes in many packages. There are the blood relatives, and then there are family groups that originate outside of genealogy, like church family and friends who are like family. Writing groups and play groups. Work groups and neighborhood groups. In all these examples of family, one thing is certain: one or more of the members of the family groups are going to do something that will hurt me.

My reaction to that hurt is what is important. Here are three ways I can see myself reacting:

1. I can curl up and try to stop breathing. Not very likely as my body will not let that happen. My autonomic nervous system will kick in and make me breathe. Whether I want to or not. Probably a good design on God's part.

2. I can lash out with the same kind of anger and retaliation which was directed at me. Somewhat likely...if I can remember the next day what caused such hurt. I have a tendency to forget things like that rather quickly anymore because my menopause brain just doesn't hang on as strongly as it once did to things that happened yesterday. But those little "forgotten" hurts tend to pile up and can come crashing down to cause damage through repressed resentment and anger.

3. I can freeze the hurter out of my life. Very likely. This is my nature. I have a weird little gauge inside me that tips the scales to the had-enough side of my brain, and once it is tipped, there is no going back. It is amazing how long it takes me to reach that point, but once I have, it is equally amazing how easily I can hit the eject button on a person and forget they ever lived.

I don't recommend any of the above reactions. None of them are healthy and none of them reflect Christ. So what does Christ say about those who hurt us? Simple. We must forgive them:

"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.
Matthew 6:14"

I notice that He doesn't say we have to be with them all the time, especially if it's someone who habitually hurts us, but we do have to forgive.

I've discovered that if I try to view my offenders as they were as children or as hurting souls the way God sees them, it's easier for me to forgive them.

Now it is up to me to demonstrate what Christ asks of me the next time family hurts me. But I'll first have to get rid of the wish that an eject button was part of His plan!


Cindy Thomson said...

Amen! How well I understand this roller coaster. Thanks for the encouragement, Dee!

~Jan said...

Lovely, Dee.

Yvonne Blake said...


Joanne Sher said...

So much truth, sweetie. You KNOW I need it. Love you.

Dee Yoder said...

Thanks for your comments, ladies. I appreciate each of you!

Patty Wysong said...

Oh what a post! Yeah, I'm *kinda* familiar with those reactions. =[ God's way is best. Not the easiest, but the best things are not usually the easiest.

dandelionfleur said...

The eject button must be a German thing--but usually I eject myself. For a while I thought I could not handle one more bit of rejection from family--ha, I was wrong.

Yet, through Christ, all hurts are healed and unbelievably even forgiven.

I send you a great big hug and kiss and a ton of love.

The Prairie Nightingale said...

Such a beautiful blog you have here, Dee. And, I appreciate your insights on what must be a common experience, even within Christian families (who are also frail human "beans" as well as numbered with the saints)! It seems the one who feels the hurt of rejection, who may be responsible all be it unintentionally, may have triggered the negative response. Rather than both working to communicate and resolve the misunderstanding, together, the other person feels justified in getting on their high horse, acting as if they have a right to take offense (without even trying to clarify), cut the reins and gallop away. They leave us no room to even try and correct any possible offense. Thank God for His forgiveness working through us and the issues at hand, in both hearts involved.

Dee Yoder said...

It's a life-long lesson--learning to live in relationships. And all too often, we just get the wrong end of the stick, and as you say, climb our high horse, cut the reins and ride off. Settling differences, living in peace--as I get older, those are the ways I most often want to live with others. Thank you for commenting. :)