Critical Spirit. The Little Things. Relational Injuries.

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Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. – Romans 14:13

 

At times we don’t feel respected.

At times we don’t feel being cared for.

At times we stepped on the other person’s feelings.

At time we brushed each other the wrong way.

At times unkind words lashed out heedlessly hurtful and regretted later.

At times we get disappointed.

 

Crowded schedules. Money pressures. Communication problems. Midlife crises. Emotionally inaccessiblity. Insecurities. Fears.

And there’s never time to talk. Disconnected.

When you do talk, frustrations stirred instead.

Our own share of human frailties in one way or another irritate the other. All those little things sank your heart like the Titanic.

Difficulties in relationships arise out of unresolved relational hurts, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and when they are not dealt with, those little things become issues themselves. Eventually, they grow to become relational injuries.

 

The 7-key checklist of relational injuries:

1. Acceptance in love or expectation?

(a) What is your expectation of the other person whom you are relating to?

(b) Has your expectations get too much in the way?

(c) When he/ she failed to meet your expectations, do you withdraw?

 

All of us are made different, and grow differently as well, the first step is learning to discover “What do you want?” When you let your expectations get too much in the way, it may pave the way to idolatry in your heart. When you truly love someone, you accept the person as who he/she is, not what you think he/she has to be. Remember, no one is perfect, including yourself. Even God loves and accept the way you are but, He is not done with our flaws yet. Acceptance comes with true love.

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7 NLT, second edition).

 

2. Responding in love or rejection?

(a) Have you been sensitive with your words and actions?

(b) How do you responded to someone even when you feel lousy?

(c) What is your language of love?

As a picture says a thousand words, so do your words and actions painted that as much. It is often contradictory why you can be patient, gentle, kind and understanding to the people who are not close or dear to your heart, but you often the “ugly split-personality” when you are with your loved ones- you are not so patient, you get angry and upset, you often lashed out unkind words, you get frustrated easily and you feel unappreciative towards them and they often get your cold shoulders. Have you ever paused for a moment the emotional injuries you have done? Consider why your dear ones have been a “punching sandbag” than a “hugging pillow” to you, it makes a whole world of difference when you spend time to share what is bothering you than to throw them around like cold turkeys. Just as you thought the other person is disconnected, chances are you, yourself probably haven’t been emotionally accessible either!

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

 

3. Finger-pointing to edify or tear down?

(a) Do you always point out the other person’s faults more than you readily label your own?

(b) Have you first seek to understand the whole situation and put yourself in the other person’s shoes?

(c) Do you demand changes from the other person?

The attitude of “That’s your problem, not mine!” is deceptive- don’t you have a part to play too? Put yourself in a scenario in a court room where you stand in as a prosecution witness in a difficult case. During cross-examinations by the Defence Attorney (DA), he will try all ways and means to pull you down by finger-arrowing your credibility and character flaws, the more you tried to defend yourself, the heavier the onslaught of verbal abuses. And you left wounded by his hurtful insinuations and unjustified judgement. Are you one who is such a Defensive Accuser (DA)?

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

4. Giving up your rights or demanding your rights?

(a) “Why should I?”

(b) “I expect you to be… …”

(c) “I have the final say!”

If you struggle with this area, you may have problems with pride. When one is full of himself or herself, he/ she always think himself/ herself is better than the other, thus it is hard to relinquish his/ her own rights. They usually struggled in accepting people who give them problems and who are weaker than them spiritually and emotionally. This category of people are very protective of their rights cos they always think they are right. Their expectations fall in line to what they think it should be and how he/ she should be, they are never understanding nor apathetic to consider how the other person feels or where he/ she is coming from. In any relationships, we are taught to be humble and submit to one another in reverence.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:!0) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21 NLT)

 

5. Shallow understanding or mutual understanding?

(a) Have you been communicating?

(b) How understanding have you been?

(c) Do you understand how a person’s background has some way influenced the way how he/ she think, feel and act?

How well do you understand yourself and the other person? Understanding is a crucial fundamental in all relationships to work, and it is paramount to foster better understanding through daily communication. In times of silence, there is tacit understanding too. Understanding the background of the person whom you are relating to, can give you a better and clearer picture how certain thoughts, feelings and actions can be triggered. For him/ her to understand you better, be honest about how you feel and what you think, instead of trying to do something to get his/ her attention. All of us think and feel differently, be open to share so that in each other you will learn something and know each other better to deal with the differences. All you need is a heart to listen.

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. – Romans 15:14

 

6. Pain and gain or close and strain?

(a) What is God teaching you through the other person?

(b) Did you apply what you have learn that God is teaching you?

(c) Are you avoiding the issues?

What is your approach- do you avoid pain or confront and gain? When you close in to a relationship, you strain it even more, the wounds may fester. And anytime when the same situations happen, it will playback the old scores. Unfortunately, the way to learn is often through unpleasantries. Pain is God’s Refining Fire.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. – 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

7. Praying with an open heart or clenched fists?

(a) Have you been praying for a breakthrough?

(b) Have you pray for God’s ultimate control and His way in your relationships?

(c) Have you try praying together?

Prayers open door to miracles, for our God is a God of Transformation. Go to Him with all your emotions, surrender your rights and expectations at the feet of His throne. Look to Him first as He will lift you up in due time. He always leave the door open for those who are weary and wounded. He has a special place for them. He is always there in assurance. And He hears you and trust that He will do something. His love never fails.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. – Philippians 4:6-7 CEV

 

All relationships goes a long way, but take heart, all is not lost yet. Give each other space, take time to do your own reflections, pray about the issues, be honest with yourself, take time to share your thoughts and your feelings openly to the other person, confessed to each other your vulnerability and mistakes, discuss with each other how to overcome barriers so as to solve those nagging issues, last but not least, be committed to making healthy changes and mean it. It takes time and courage.

There may be someone in your midst who is hurting. It is always worthwhile to confront it than to take a passive stand, even though you have prayed and trust God would do something about it, but that does not mean we should be doing nothing! How can you reap the fruit when you never bother to sow the seed? God moves as you move, you never know till you try however difficult it can be but God will supply His Strength, Grace and Mercy to keep you through.

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13

Keep at it, those little things CAN and WILL GO AWAY. Remember, forgiveness is a precious gift too. Don’t give up.

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Careless Words Can Kill

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Being a familiar recipient of past scorns, I could very well relate to careless words. What really hold me on good ground is the verse that God is ultra-stern on- “But I tell you, on the day of judgment people will have to give an accounting for every (empty, careless, idle, thoughtless, worthless or useless) word they speak. For by your words [reflecting your spiritual condition] you will be justified and acquitted of the guilt of sin; and by your words [rejecting Me] you will be condemned and sentenced.” – Matthew 12:36-37 AMP

Imagine, every words are recorded in God’s account that we ultimately have to come before Him on the day of judgement. If you read verse Matthew 12:37 carefully, it is “by our words, whether we be justified or acquitted of the guilt of sin…” Woah, scary isn’t it?

If we are truly honest, we all are guilty of careless words whether with another person or even with God:

(a) Broken promises

(b) Empty words

(c) Tongue-lashes from anger

(d) Gossips count?

(e) Grumbling counts?

(f) And the what-nots…

Prov 12:18 says “Careless words stab like a sword”, which literally mean it is as good as (attempted) murder.

It took me years (including being trained under as a cell leader to lead by example) to really master the art of silence whenever I am upset or angry (the latter is not of my personality to arrive at). Simply, it is harder to remain silent than to react because silence is Strength under Control. It is a lot much easier to flare. Apart from remembering the preceding verse, the other verse is Proverbs 18:6-7, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”

Let me give you an illustration- All of us has a battery life in us, that indicate our strength. Aside to indicate our energy level, it also indicates our emotional quotient. Imagine you scold somebody very harshly, the battery life in that person will minus a bar or more depending on the severity. It can be dangerous if the person’s battery life is left with a bar… We can either choose to top up the person’s battery life with kind words or deeds or rob the person with unkind words or deeds. So the take home point is, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21

What kind of fruits are you reaping? In other words, it should be “heaping” in your life? If we have been recipients of the magnitude of God’s Grace, Forgiveness, Mercies, Gentleness and Love, is it too difficult for us to show in our human weakness even a portion to others?

P.s. To clarify- it does not mean I have perfected it, none of us can arrive there. But we can only get better with the help of Holy Spirit if we lead a spirit-filled life. 🙂

Under the Carpet

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One sultry weekend afternoon, a young wife decided to keep the house spick and span as it had been quite a while she last cleaned the house since her monstrously hectic work schedule. The husband comfortably retreated into his couch to read the papers while the wife vacuumed the floor.

As she lifted up the carpet, to her dismay, she found a cruddy avalanche of dust, loose hair strands, cobwebs, food crumbles that had invited an army of ants. The cacophony of noises from the vacuum cleaner and the wife’s shriek irritated the husband.

“Look honey! You should have help to clean the house when I have been busy. See, what is this under the carpet?!?” the wife hollered with frown furrowing her forehead.

“Is this my problem?!? What has it got to do with me?!? You are supposed to clean the house! But all you do is work, work, work!” the indignant husband bellowed.

“What are you trying to imply?? You have a part in this house too! It is also your responsibility to keep the house clean, don’t dump all the dirty work on me? All you ever care straight from home is your television, your papers and your computer!” the wife engaged the verbal war.

Flames of anger danced in the husband’s eyes, he retorted involuntarily, “You think about it, are you any better?? When I first know you, you weren’t like this but now you are always over-reacting over nitty-gritty stuffs. Remember the last time you…”

The wife interposed with glint of intensity suffused her eyes, “Why are you bringing up the old scores?!? Why everything I do I can’t seem to be doing it right in your eyes?!? You are always picking on me in this and that…”

Fingers-arrowing. Incessant-brawls. Emotional-vehemence. Disconnected in a bad note.

Cold wars blanketed the house for days. Eventually the couple decided to reconcile by glossing over the conflict, “Let it go and move on.”

However, an angel was sent on a special mission to intervene between this couple. He gathered both the husband and the wife, “Remember the ruckus both of you have about under the carpet? The more you sweep anything under the carpet, the more it’ll grow? Why not seek to clean it up when the dust has not yet settled, it will be a lot easier to maintain this house cleaner then. Both of you have a part to play and the responsibility to keep this house clean. Here’s a lesson for both of you from Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

“The strongest of marriages is one which has weathered the most storms. Look around you, is there any relationship that is not fraught with problems? It is in learning to deal with problems that surfaced each other’s weaknesses that both parties will learn to overcome in patience and perseverance. As all of us are different, thus the way we relate to each other is different too- in the way we think, the way we react, the way we perceive and the way we feel and even the way we expect. It is like putting two individuals of different backgrounds and attachment styles which may have caused the variance in preconceptions, the frictions and the blows.

But problems have purposes, and it is always in problems that you can understand each other better and improve the relationship. Issues are always best to iron out face to face than merely glossing over them or sweeping them under the carpet as unintentional or intentional relational injuries may resulted in woundedness. Such woundedness can cause the relationship to strain. Thus anytime when the same context happens, it will play back those old scores that has been buried. Anything that falls short of our expectations can hurt. Pride can hurt. Demands for our own rights can hurt. Indifference or insensitivity can hurt. Lack of understanding can hurt. Lack of communication can hurt. Tempers can hurt. Unkind words can hurt. Impatience can hurt. Any weaknesses can be like a thorn in another person’s flesh.

Remember, all of us has weaknesses and we are all learning over time. Remember, the God who will never leave us just as we are.”